As anyone who has traveled the United States by car extensively will tell you, sometimes you just happen to come across a landscape during your travels that so completely blows your mind that it renders you speechless. For me, one of these is undoubtedly the kind of weird, extremely cool, and very unique landscape of Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho. If you aren’t familiar with this park, you are definitely missing out. If you were to take a road trip thru Idaho, the contrast between the black lava formations and craters found inside the national monument and the landscape found throughout the rest of the state is nothing if not striking.
A look at my travel journal for our 2020 National Parks Road Trip for the Mesa Verde National Park and Canyon of the Ancients segment of our trip.
A look at my travel journal for our 2020 National Parks Road Trip for the Rocky Mountain National Park segment of our trip.
As far as this summer goes, I have been itching to take another road trip thru the American Rockies and American Southwest, and I think the current situation makes this year the ideal time to make that trip happen. I feel much more comfortable driving than flying and it is easy to distance yourself from others when you are out hiking and camping. When things start to open up in the United States this summer, taking a road trip and knocking off some of the US National Parks that I have yet to see sounds like a great alternative to the plans I had to cancel.
As a beginning hiker, the tougher 14ers in Colorado like Capitol Peak, Long’s Peak, Little Bear Peak, or “The Deadly Bells” might be too much for you to tackle at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set your sights on the clouds. In fact, there are a number of challenging, yet completely doable, 14ers in Colorado that beginning hikers can attempt to tackle. With the experience of summiting these easier peaks under your belt, it won’t be long before you build up the experience and confidence needed to tackle some of the more difficult peaks in Colorado.
White Sands is one of the most stunning landscapes in the United States. Not only is it the largest collection of sand dunes in the United States, but the beautiful white, gypsum sand dunes are also some of the most unique sand dunes found anywhere in the world. While gypsum is one of the most common minerals on the planet, because it easily dissolves in water, it is very rarely found on the surface of the ground. These unique and amazing traits made White Sands worthy of becoming a National Monument back in 1933.
Consisting of 117 known caves, the biggest of which spans roughly 8 acres and is the largest accessible cave chamber in North America, Carlsbad Caverns is one of the most unique landscapes in the American National Parks system. In addition to being an amazing landscape, the national park is also home to some fantastic wildlife.
The most notable wildlife residents are the parks many species of bats. There are 17 species of bats found in the park and they all live within the caverns. In fact, the park was initially discovered by a young cowboy named Jim White when he saw a large group of bats leaving the caverns back in 1903.
Imagine a place where cactuses grow to be as big as telephone poles, the sunsets look like they came right out of a postcard, and the roadrunner you grew up watching on cartoons really does scurry around the landscape. If that sounds intriguing to you, then you will absolutely love Saguaro National Park in Arizona.
This beautiful desert park also includes over 100 miles of great hiking trails and a number of paved roads that assist visitors in seeing the park. Visitors to the park are able to hike, camp, bird and animal watch, go star gazing at night, or just relax and enjoy the serenity of the desert. One thing this park is never in short supply of is peacefulness.
In this third installment of my Epic National Parks Road Trips series, I will be talking to you about an itinerary that takes you thru some of the most remarkable desert mountains and caves in the Southern United States. As you make your way thru the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, you will see one of the largest cave systems in the world, one of the biggest cactus species in the world, and beautiful mountains and rivers that have shaped the American Southwest.
The next epic road trip in my five-part series is an amazing trip thru the American Southwest. The Southwest is one of the most unique and beautiful areas of the United States, and undoubtedly my favorite part of the country. With breathtaking canyons, beautiful forests, and stunning desert landscapes, the canyon region of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona is an absolute must-see for any outdoor enthusiast. In this epic road trip, you will get to see the best that this region of the United States has to offer.