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national parks

North America Road Trippin

Which National Parks Should Be on Your Bucket List This Year?

When you think about your list of perfect destinations, are you considering traveling domestically this year? If this sounds like you, then it’s time to refresh your travel bucket list and think about what places you want to visit.

Given that city escapes are a little too overpopulated right now (and most of us have been stuck in a city metropolis for what feels like too long), then expansive and outdoorsy sounds exactly right this year. A visit to a National Park is certainly going to be high on the list of easy decisions for travel.

Here are four National Parks that shouldn’t escape your attention if you’ve never been to them before (or are up for a follow-up visit now).

Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain National Park is simply perfect if you’re looking for impressive landscapes, wildlife, and interesting trails to explore.

There are alpine overlooks to get the best views, trails that lead to lake destinations, and plenty of waterfalls to see. Anyone who loves forested areas will also particularly enjoy a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

The park is just one of the featured places from the National Park Foundation that focuses on protecting the natural beauty of these national parks for centuries to come. Their guide to Rocky Mountain notes that this is the perfect place to camp, as they have 5 established campgrounds to choose from. Just make sure you book early as it fills up fast!

Biscayne National Park

When you want tropical heat and lush surroundings, it’s difficult to find somewhere better for it than Florida.

While the trails are minimal because of the landscape, this National Park is best explored by boat or using boat tour facilities to get around. Still, you can try your hand at one of the five hiking or walking trails in the park, but once you’ve done this, it’s sensible to get on the water for the best experience.

The trail that starts at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center is perhaps the easiest to walk because the walkway is paved along the coastline. It’s not much more than half a mile, so most reasonably fit people can make it, despite the warm Florida weather.

Whether you take a trip on the water or walk for a bit, we’d recommend wearing sun sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the Florida heat.

Zion National Park

The Zion National Park features epic landscapes dating back centuries.

The park is situated between the Mojave Desert, a Plateau, and the Great Basin. This provides for an incredible ecosystem with canyons, arches, monoliths, rivers, and mountains.

There’s plenty of hiking in nature here. Also, horse ranches are scattered about if you fancy getting on horseback and covering some distance that way.

It’s worth noting that some of the hiking lasts for several hours duration and will require a good degree of fitness. For instance, the Angels Landing hike covers considerable undulating ground over 4 hours. There are also some lifts in elevation along the way, which can cause shortness of breath for unfit people or those with asthma.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

To escape some of the midday sun in the summertime, another national park worth looking at is the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

The Carlsbad Caverns has become a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique structure. The interior gets down to 56 degrees at times, which is a lovely respite from the outdoor summer heat. The caves are great for kids to explore and for parents to get the “Indiana Jones” feeling of exploration and adventure.

There are plenty of National Parks to visit and get away from it all. And even when those are all ticked off your bucket list, there are recommended State Parks that are interesting in their own right.

Insider Tips North America

An Insider Guide to White Sands National Monument Park, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument is a white washed oasis of gypsum dunes dotted with greenery, and truly one of the most unusual and beautiful landscapes in the US. Located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, it is an easy drive from the airport in El Paso, or the perfect addition to any Southwest road trip. Here are a few tips for your visit to the park:

Stay: Alamogordo is the nearest town, and it is home to most chain hotels and inns. It also has quite a few charming motels, neon lights and all. The White Sands Motel is a wonderful choice, with friendly staff, clean rooms and even free sleds to borrow.

Do: Wake up to catch the sunrise, or stay late to see the sunset. The white sand reflects color, magnifying those cotton candy hues that are so magnificent.Rent or borrow sleds. Sledding down the dunes is the epitome of fun, and it does not get old. While there are trail markers, I’d recommend just wandering as you please, hiking up the hills, and sledding down the other side. The best!Catch a lightning storm (from a safe distance!) if you are able to. Wild!


Keep in mind:
Pack lots of water. Even when the temperature does not feel as hot, staying hydrated is so important. The National Park Service recommends one gallon of water per person per day, so be sure to pack accordingly. Snacks are important, too, as the hiking is quite a workout. High energy snacks like granola bars, fruit, nuts, etc. are all great choices to load in your backpack.


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Australia Food Guides Insider Tips

Insider Guide to Noosa, Australia

We’re @emmakateco and @carlystephan – bloggers, travelers + soul sisters. We’ve packed our Noosa essentials – bikinis, sunglasses, and a map. Kicking off today with fruity frappes and coffee. Excited to share our road trip to Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast!

Noosa National Park
We’re following a stunning forest trail with hidden turquoise beaches along the way. This national park is an important refuge for black cockatoos and koala bears – we saw a cute little koala snoozing the day away in a tall gum tree.

We made it to the jaw-dropping jagged cliffs of Hell’s Gates – amazing 360 degree views of the entire region. Perfect spot for a picnic, and some amazing photos!

On our way back, we stopped at Granite Bay for an afternoon dip in the rock pools. This beautiful beach is made up entirely of black granite boulders and stones. Beautiful to photograph, hot under foot!

A day in Noosa is not complete without a visit to Massimo Gelateria, a local spot. It’s pistachio and macadamia for Carly, pink grapefruit and coconut for Em. Our tip – eat them quickly or face the consequences! Eating gelati and cruising Hastings Street in this shopping mecca is highly recommended.

Front row seats to a spectacular ocean show. Cool breezes and breathtaking colours greet you at every turn on this trail. If you’re lucky you may spot turtles, dolphins and breeching whales. Mother nature turns it ON in this part of the world.

Dotted along the beautiful coastal track of Noosa’s National Park there are many little slices of paradise to explore. We saw these amazing boulders from afar and had to have a play on them. A little bit of ‘bush-bashing’ off the beaten track, and we were there! They made for fantastic perches to admire the view.

We cap off a perfect day with sunset at the Noosa river mouth, where fisherman, family and friends all gather to salute the sun goodbye after another gorgeous day. Thanks for following our Noosa soul sister adventure! We hope you venture down here some day xx

Emma Kate is a designer, blogger, author, traveller, and founder of the Emma Kate Co. stationery/lifestyle brand.

With her lighthearted and whimsy designs, Emma Kate is in the business of making days all over the planet – for customers, virtual visitors, creative clients, and everyone in between. Her words + imagery inspires unbridled freedom, unabashed love, and unforgettable kindness. 

When not tapping away on her laptop, you can most likely find Emma brunching, or cross-legged + barefoot on a plane, daydreaming about how deep down, she really wished she lived in Paris.

For more from Emma, her creations and writings, or to work with her yourself, hop online. She’s got something very special waiting for you. www.emmakateco.com // @emmakateco

 

Carly is a passionate international aid and development project manager, writer and blogger. Her work has taken her across the globe many times over, working on projects in East Africa, South East Asia and throughout the Pacific Islands. These projects have focused on cultivating sustainable livelihoods, the empowerment of women, community enterprise, local market development and positive social change. Growing up in Singapore, Carly’s wanderlust and wonder for the world was stoked at an early age, her passport heaving with stamps by the age of 10.

Carly also has a blog, Pockets of Peace, where you will find spirited musings on peace, wellness and living an inspired and light-filled life.

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