Outdoor Enthusiast’s Heaven – Smoky Mountains National Park

smoky-mountainsThe Smoky Mountains offers an incredible range of diverse activities for visitors to take advantage of. Hiking, cycling, fishing, and the exploration of wildlife and historical sites are available for all people; whether you are brand-new to the tangled wildlife of a national park or an expert, there are opportunities for everyone. Shorter trails are available for those who are more inexperienced, and there are even specially designated child-friendly trails are offered.

A basic understanding of what to do in a dangerous situation involving black bears should be maintained before a trip to the Smoky Mountains. Black bears are often unpredictable and violent animals, and one should not approach them or allow them to approach. In order to not encourage problems between humans and bears, do not throw away food into the wilderness, and certainly do not offer food to the bears.

However, black bears and other forms of wildlife is always a pleasure to view from a distance with a camera or telescope, and should definitely be done. Just remember that safety is first!

Gem of United States Nature – The Grand Canyon

grand-canyonA summer vacation idea not to be missed is a road trip to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon National Park is split into two rims; the North and South rim. Due to the disparity in their elevations, the two rims seem like two completely separate parks. If you’re interested in visiting the North Rim, be sure to save the trip for a date between May and October, or you may risk being trapped by snowfall. However, a visit to the North Rim is well worth it because of the breathtaking views and solitude that can be experienced through a day hike.

Both rims should be explored through day hikes, and can be explored in a variety of different ways. Park rangers are available to offer information on the history and science of the park, and mule trips are offered for both rims. The South rim offers a Desert View drive, whitewater rafting trips through the Colorado River, and a photo hot spot for nature photographers trying to find the best lighting to capture views of the park. The North rim offers a myriad of different hiking trails and roads, and should be explored as thoroughly as possible for some truly awesome sights.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

sleeping-bear-dunesLocated in Empire, Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a great place for a weekend of camping, nature exploration, and fun with the entire family. Not only does it offer rustic-style camping right by the crystal clear and beautiful Lake Michigan, but it also offers campgrounds with modern restrooms, electricity, and paved roads. Camping can also be done on the Manitou Islands.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is comprised of a multitude of different activities. Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing are all possible on the various lakefronts and rivers, such as Glen Lake and the Platte River. Biking is also a great family friendly activity for the outdoors. Of course, many visitors intend to visit the dunes, and the Dune Climb is highly recommended for everyone! A strenuous climb to the top, it is exhilarating to run and roll back down to the bottom

Yosemite – the Infamous!

yosemiteYosemite is one of the most infamous national parks in the United States. It also has one of the most infamous mispronunciations of all time. Contrary to popular belief (and my personal long-held one) the word does not rhyme with “hose-might”, and rather is pronounced “yo-sim-it-tea”.

But let’s not limit this magnificent piece of nature to its name. Yosemite is a buffet of the various spectacles of nature: waterfalls, mountains, rivers, you name it.

A classic visitor stop is the Merced River. A beautifully blue, bright body of water, it is an aquatic resource important to Yosemite and the ecosystem it supports within. Certain points along the river offer clear views to the mountains that rise in the distance, a feature that satisfies the most avid photographers. But the river is not limited to sightseeing: it is also a popular spot for rafting, especially in the summer. Swimming through the clean, clear water is enjoyable as well. But be careful, the water is often cold and the currents can be fast and dangerous.

The river and various lakes aren’t the only aquatic beauties of Yosemite. The waterfalls located in Yosemite are stunning, and some of the lesser known ones serve as a real treat for those looking to wander in solitude. A few to put on your list of potential destinations include Illilouette and Chilnualna Falls.

A visit to Yosemite would not be complete without a visit to one of the stony marvels along the Sierra Nevada. The most popular include El Capitan and the Half Dome, both situated in the Yosemite Valley. But there are other worthwhile peaks, such as the Sentinel Rock and the Cathedral Rocks and Spires.

One of history’s legendary photographers, Ansel Adams photographed Yosemite often. His photographs capture Yosemite’s sites at their most beautiful, and if you visit the gift shop, be sure to pick up a few copies of his pictures!

The Best Campsites Collection #5 -Bartlett Cove Campground

Camp where a glacier once stood. Bartlett Cove Campground in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park is off the beaten path, though worth every bit of effort it takes to get there. With endless trail to hike, waterways to kayak, and wildlife to watch (humpback whales, elk, grizzly bears, wolves, to name a few), you’ll quickly realize why Alaska still remains The Last Frontier.

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The Best Campsites Collection #4 – Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park offers visitors a rare opportunity to be humbled by nature in an extreme landscape that exists in total opposition to with what is generally regarded as typical U.S. geography. Walking among the dunes with sand as far as the eye can see feels like being on a alien planet—it’s entirely foreign and amazing. Whether your avenue of exploration is by horse back, on foot, or by car, the experience is one not to miss.

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The Best Campsites Collection #2 – Jumbo Rocks

Located toward the western border of California’s renowned Joshua Tree National Park, Jumbo Rocks Campground is just a short hike from some of the area’s coolest rock formations. With just 124 first-come, first-served sites you’ll have to arrive early, as Los Angeles is just over 2 hours away.

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