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North America Outdoors

13 National Parks Worth Visiting

With travel put on hold indefinitely due to COVID-19, National Parks have been the perfect refuge for local road trips. These are a few of the 62 National Parks worth making the trek for, and to help temporarily fulfill our wanderlust.

Arches

When you think of a landscape in the American Southwest, Moab, Utah, easily fills that image. With over 2,000 arches to explore, this sandstone saturated setting is an adventurer’s dream. Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, and Park Avenue are just a few of the many recommended sights that will awe you in the desert.

Badlands



It might feel like you landed on a different planet when visiting Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The built-in walking paths spill out into expansive contours of unique rock formations. Take in the impressive spires and spend the day feeling out of this world. There’s a good chance you might even run into Bighorn Sheep, but hopefully from a distance.

Bryce Canyon


Walking among the hoodoos on the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail is a surreal experience. You will be thrust into the thick depths of the orange canyon, all while taking in the up close and mesmerizing perspectives of the crusted compositions. It all culminates to a jaw-dropping view of Thor’s hammer.

Canyonlands


It’s all about the dramatic views. “Island in the Sky” is a very suitable name for an area of this park. Overlooks will have you peering into the cores of craters that look like huge imprints left behind from something extraterrestrial. For one of the most epic settings in the National Park System, make sure to take in the scene of Mesa Arch, an easy 0.7 mile trail.

Grand Canyon

When you ask someone where they want to travel, one of the answers will likely be, “The Grand Canyon.” As you amble towards one of the rims, you will take in one of the most monumental panoramas you’ll ever see. The first thing one does when seeing the Grand Canyon is to simply stare and marvel at this wonder. Take things to the next level with a rafting trip on the Colorado River.

Grand Teton


If you are seeking solitude and yearning for the mountains, Grand Teton might be the perfect escape. The Teton mountain range naturally shows off its snow-capped stunning beauty via mirror reflections in its many majestic lakes. Close to Jackson Hole and adjacent to Yellowstone, it’s a park for all seasons but is particularly striking in the Fall. You might even experience a chance encounter with a moose, and where better to do that than in Moose, WY, where the Tetons are located.

Joshua Tree


These famous trees dot the desert landscape in southern California. It gets hot in this arid climate so it’s always most pleasant to visit in the winter, or spring, which is a notably great time to wander about as wild flowers are in full bloom. The Cholla Cactus Garden makes for a memorable sunset site while Barker Dam, Skull Rock, and Wall Street Mill are other hotspots to uncover.

Rocky Mountain


The Rockies are a quick ride from Denver, and makes a perfect day trip. There are bounds of nature sights, impressive lakes, and mountains to seek out. Elk will be plentiful and like to take their time crossing the streets in nearby Estes Park. It starts snowing early in Colorado so if you don’t feel like snowshoeing on the sometimes ice-covered trails, it’s recommended to visit before winter arrives.

Sequoia


Easily accessible from Los Angeles or San Francisco, this is where to go if you want to be wowed by huge trees. The impressive giant Redwoods will make one feel teeny-tiny when taking in the scope of their size. If a change of scenery from trees is needed, there are endless meadows to discover. Home to the world’s largest tree by volume, this is where the famous General Sherman tree lives. Crescent Meadow, Tokopah Falls, and the Congress Trail, are other must-see spots.

Shenandoah


One of the only accessible National Parks to east coasters, Shenandoah is an underrated gem. Popular with those who live in Washington, DC, a drive on Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge mountains is a necessity when visiting this park. It’s also perfect for leaf peeping, where one can enjoy the changing autumn colors. From easy to challenging, there are some great hiking options. Old Rag is the summit to ascend, which at 10.2 miles, will take a full day. Stony Man and Dark Hollow Falls are easier ones to climb, and should be added to your list.

Yellowstone


There’s a reason why Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872. It’s beauty, diversity, and vast landscapes easily makes this park a one-of-a-kind experience. Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful might be famous geysers, but there are 500 hot springs in total. Waterfalls and wildlife are in abundance and the best spot to get your bison fix (from a distance) is in Hayden Valley.

Yosemite




In the land of waterfalls, there seems to be an impressive one in every direction. Some of the most famous viewpoints in the National Park System call Yosemite home such as Tunnel View, and Glacier Point. There’s a lot of ground and distance to cover in this park so a few days spent exploring is recommended, especially if you want to see past Yosemite Valley in the picturesque but less busy area of Tuolumne Meadows, and the many alpine lakes peppered throughout the park.

Zion


Visiting Zion feels like you were suddenly transported back in time to the Mesozoic Era. The spectacular overlooks commonly have astounding canyons that include varied red sedimentary rocks. Less commonly known, are the ample water features ranging from waterfalls, rivers, and creeks. This is a park for thrill-seekers as the two most popular hikes are Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, though there really is something for everyone.

There are so many amazing National Parks that are worth your time and these are just a few that will impress and bring some much-needed solace to your inner travel itch. With Fall quickly approaching and leaves soon to change, it’s the perfect time to jump in the car, hit the road, and surround yourself in nature amongst sensational surroundings.

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.

Advice Outdoors Travel Planning

Conscious Travel: 8 Tips for a Sustainable Vacation

Regardless of our personal opinions, one thing remains an irrefutable fact: our planet is facing an ecological crisis. The environmental changes we witness everyday are increasingly serious and some of them are irreversible. Still, we can try to help the environment with small, but meaningful actions. One of them is sustainable travel. It’s an expanding territory that has grown alongside our own consciousness about the world that surrounds us and awareness of our intrinsically wasteful society. Sustainable travel, in its essence, means being aware of and try to minimize the impact tourism has on the environment and local communities. Here are eight ideas to help you make an informed decision when you go on vacation, keeping in mind you’ll be using your leisure time to contribute to sustainability.

E.R.I.E: Ecological, Responsible, Impactful, Ethical

Four simple words to guide you as a conscious traveler. Ecological is as simple as enjoying the environment in its natural form with activities such as camping. Being responsible just means you have to be aware of how your individual actions can impact local communities. “Impactful comes down to spending your pocket money on helping locals, as opposed to adhere to regular mass consumerism. Ethical refers to your moral duties to respect the environment, animals and communities,” explains Fiona Hill, a lifestyle blogger.

Keep It Local

It’s common knowledge that tourism makes up a huge part of many different economies. However, in order to ensure you are financially contributing to the local communities themselves, it is important to choose local products and activities. Avoid gift shops and their mass market production by choosing local keepsakes instead. A local business will most likely invest its profit back into their community, which is the opposite of what worldwide-known franchise chains do.

Avoid Over-tourism

Popular destinations such as Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona and Paris might seem like a good vacation option. The history and aesthetics of those places are a no-brainer. However, they do tend to be overcrowded, punching a big hole in sustainability. There are so many other destinations that would benefit from your contribution to their underrated economy. Not to mention that it will be less stressful for you if you’re not constantly surrounded by massive crowds of tourists! “Why not choose the Portuguese islands of Azores or Madeira? Or perhaps explore the Greek paradise that is the Skyros Island? You’d be surprised with the range of alternatives available instead of your standard vacation destination,” says Silvia Olive, a travel blogger.

Alternative Accommodation

Avoid hotels! They are some of the greatest culprits in damaging the environment, with outrageous amounts of food waste, toiletry bottles thrown away without being fully used and AC units on full blast.

Choose hostels, locally owned hotels that don’t belong to international chains, or guest houses.

Say No to Cruise Ships!

Cruise ships are a big no-no in terms of sustainable travel. They are horrendous for the environment and don’t benefit local communities whatsoever when they dock. They pollute the oceans, damaging marine life and they don’t avoid plastic waste and fish consumption.

Pack Light

There are several benefits in packing lightly for your travels. If you choose carry-on luggage with only essentials, planes will carry less weight and consume less fuel. Also, with less luggage to transport, you can opt out of getting a cab from the airport to your chosen accommodation and use public transportation instead. Don’t pack wasteful items like plastic bags, containers or bottles!

No Clue Left Behind

Wherever you choose to travel, ensure you don’t remove objects from their original environment. Don’t litter! Reduce your waste by recycling and packing reusable items. You can always find local recycling points when on vacation.

Choose Mass Transportation

Take small steps to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. Choose shared services like Uber and local transport as opposed to taxis. You can also explore cities by walking or being part of bike share programs.

It’s becoming more and more important for us to be conscious about our decisions. We are all part of this planet and have our roles to play, small as they may be. Even when you’re having fun in your vacation, you can make small alterations that will help the environment, as well as creating new experiences for yourself.

 

Advice Guides Insider Tips Outdoors

Five Beautiful Botanical Gardens Around the World

As an avid traveler, I love pounding the pavement in a city I’ve never visited before. Urban architecture and artwork never ceases to impress and inspire me. But there’s one non-negotiable must-do that’s always at the top of my trip list: botanical gardens. Below are a few of my all-time favorites any wanderlust should add to their itinerary.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Walking distance from Melbourne’s bustling central business district – known as the CBD to locals – lies 90 acres of open air space. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is filled with an array of lawns, lakes, pavilions, and paths. Several entrance gates lead to a vast range of collections from bamboo to ferns and palms to roses, with many rare species of trees and foliage. You don’t have to be a botany buff to appreciate the Australian Forest Walk or Water Conservation Garden, but the Garden does have an education team that offers programs for those who want to learn more. It may take multiple visits to soak in all that Melbourne’s garden has to offer; luckily it is completely free of entry. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria hosts wellness experiences, family activities,  art exhibitions, guided walks, and more throughout the year. Or you could simply bring a picnic and soak in your surroundings before hitting the nearby beach or city. 

Innsbruck University Botanical Garden, Innsbruck, Austria

Two hours outside of Salzburg is the small, charming town of Innsbruck. Tucked away in the Austrian alps, Innsbruck is a prime location for year-round sports like hiking, skiing and mountain biking. But plant lovers are also in luck: the University of Innsbruck happens to have a lush park with three gorgeous ‘gram-worthy greenhouses. Each steamy greenhouse houses orchids, ferns, cacti, and more tropical plants. The real stunner is the indoor pond flecked with giant lily pads, surrounded by luxurious palms. The greenhouses are open every Tuesday, Thursday, and first Sunday afternoon of the month and cost just two euros to enter. Wander the rest of the botanical garden for free and explore over thousands of plant species from around the world.

Malahide Castle and Gardens, Dublin, Ireland

A peaceful outdoor retreat can be found thirty minutes outside of Dublin’s city center. Malahide Castle is a popular tourist destination, and daily tours of the medieval home fill up fast. The grounds around the 800 year old castle are equally as impressive: 260 acres are filled with gardens, greenhouses, the Republic of Ireland’s only butterfly house, and a fairy trail that’s perfect for kids. You may run into brightly colored peacocks who call the gardens home, which was originally created to grow vegetables and herbs for the castle kitchen decades ago. The last owner of Malahide Castle was enthusiastic about exotic plants and rare flora, and transformed the kitchen gardens into the existing landscape. Explore a rose garden, Victorian Conservatory, a geometric greenhouse and much more. Malahide also screens movies and hosts concerts, yoga and more events when weather allows. P.S. – their onsite cafe and food market is insanely delicious as well. Tickets for the gardens, butterfly house and fairy trail are 7.50 euro for adults, and are included in the 14 euro guided castle tour ticket. 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri 

Not only one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States, the Missouri Botanical Garden was also awarded National Historic Landmark status. 79 acres of indoor and outdoor space with more than 20 individual gardens make up this serene space. Historical structures, including founder Henry Shaw’s townhouse built in 1849, make this botanical garden unique. Victorian era architecture – like a  stone cottage from the late 1800’s and a brick greenhouse constructed in 1882 – give a glimpse of the past, while newer builds like the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory are equally impressive. Multiple museums, a maze, koi fish pond and more round out the garden grounds. The Missouri Botanical Garden hosts events throughout the year, including the jaw-dropping nighttime Garden Glow with over one million lights; the only tradeoff being chilly temperatures. The garden is open daily with free admission for kids 12 and under, and $14 for adult visitors. 

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado

It may be relatively small, but it’s substantial. Denver’s botanic garden on York Street, near downtown, is 24 acres of diverse plant life from around the world. Explore Gardens of the West, highlighting greenery that’s native to Colorado, and international gardens with foliage from China to South Africa and beyond. Colorful ornamental gardens with fan-favorite annual blooms, shady low-light gardens and water gardens with aquatic plants make up the rest of Denver’s collection. While Denver may be known for breweries and sports teams, the Mile High city makes outdoor space a priority with over 200 parks: the botanic garden being the most memorable. The York Street gardens are open all year with $12.50 entry fee for adults, with weekly events ranging from sunrise yoga to botanical illustration for an additional fee. There is a second Denver Botanic Gardens location at Chatfield Farms in nearby Littleton on working farm and native plant refuge. 

Outdoors Travel Planning

The Most Breathtaking Natural Locations Around the World

The world is an incredibly beautiful place with all kinds of stunning natural sights in every area. There are so many breathtaking, natural locations to see around the world and anyone with a love of nature should look to tick as many of these places off of their list as possible. With so many fantastic places to visit, it can be tricky to decide where is best to visit but here are a few ideas for the most awe-inspiring places in the world.

Great Barrier Reef – Australia

With so many astonishing colours, it is sometimes hard to remember that the Great Barrier Reef is a natural coral reef system and not manmade. The largest coral reef system in the world is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands over a gigantic area of roughly 344,400 square kilometres. In addition to the mesmerising colours, the Great Barrier Reef is also home to all kinds of stunning and majestic creatures which only adds to the appeal.

The Most Breathtaking Natural Locations Around the World

Cliffs of Moher – Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher tower some 214 meters into the sky and make up around 14 kilometres of Ireland’s wild, dramatic and incredibly beautiful coastline. Located on the southwestern edge of the Burren Region in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are home to around 30,000 birds which are fantastic to watch as the waves crash into the imposing cliffs. Ireland is sometimes overlooked in terms of natural beauty, but it is quite unlike anywhere else in the world and somewhere that any nature lover will feel at home.

Grand Canyon – USA

One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon in Arizona has an average depth of one mile and an average width of 10 miles with amazing views and surrounded by natural beauty. The gorge has been carved out by the Colorado River over the last 5,000 years and left behind layers of colorful rock which show the great history of the area.

Iguazu Falls – Argentina

Found at the Brazil/Argentina border, the Iguazu Falls are one of the most famous and breathtaking sights in South America. A chain of mini waterfalls spanning nearly 3 km, the Falls are quite unlike any other waterfall on earth as you can see water plummeting to earth as far as the eye can see with some of these being incredibly powerful and impressive – on average, there is about 1,500 cubic meters of water flowing ever second. To make this experience even more special, you could look into private jet hire so that you can arrive in style and feel calm and relaxed when you arrive in one of Argentina’s most gorgeous natural locations.

Moraine Lake – Canada

Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park has postcard-esque scenery which will take your breath away. The blue waters of the lake are fed by a glacier and surrounded by imposing snow-capped mountain peaks and thick forests for a serene, diverse and incredibly beautiful setting. 

The Most Breathtaking Natural Locations Around the World

Salt Plains – Bolivia

Spanning a jaw-dropping 4,086 miles, Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the entire world and an otherworldly, natural landscape that has to be seen to truly appreciate. A prehistoric lake which went dry and left behind an enormous landscape of white salt and rock formations as far as the eye can see. The reflections allow for some surreal and stunning sights and the opportunity for some amazing photography so don’t forget to pack your camera.


There are many amazing sights to behold in every region on this very beautiful planet, but the above are a few of the best natural locations which anyone with a love for nature will adore and give you a greater appreciation for the world.

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