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    Sedona,

    Arizona

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    Sedona is a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 10,031. It lies within the Coconino National Forest. Sedona's main attraction is its array of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails. Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city's first postmaster, who was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness. Her mother, Amanda Miller, claimed to have made the name up because "it sounded pretty".
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    Best spots for fall foliage out west

    New England gets all the credit. It is known for its seasonal changing of the leaves throughout Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont - and you can find a road trip guide to New England here. But this region is not the only part of the U.S. that cast off different shades during autumn. Here is where to see the best fall foliage in the western states. WEST Arizona Outside of Sedona, Red Rock State Park’s riparian zone of Oak Creek Canyon goes by Fremont cottonwood, sycamore, velvet ash and Arizona alder trees on various trails and the path up to the Eagle’s Nest Trail to get a top-down view. See Slide Rock State Park on the same day; trees there also provide a vibrant contrast against the Oak Creek’s red rocks. Idaho The Boise River Greenbelt is a tree-lined pathway throughout the city and connects walkers and cyclists to its various riverside parks. Or head out on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway, as this Highway 75 rolls north past the Harriman Trail and the Galena Summit Overlook, then on through the resort towns of Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. Great Basin National Park. Photo credit: Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada Nevada In Eastern Nevada, the Great Basin National Park encourages you to drive around at your own pace. Its Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is a paved 12-mile route leading to an elevation exceeding 10,000 feet and views of groves of aspen trees in yellow, red and gold. New Mexico The Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway leads to a 13,000-foot aspen filled alpine wilderness, where the hillsides from Hyde Memorial State Park to Ski Santa Fe shine vibrantly gold. Fall colors hit nicely along U.S. 64, across the Carson National Forest between Taos and Chama and through Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla, where the view of the Brazos Cliffs is worth the stop. Wyoming Along Battle Pass Scenic Byway, a 57-mile Sierra Madre Mountains of the Medicine Bow National Forest, see the famous strand of trees known as Aspen Alley. Jackson is a gateway to two of the country’s most beautiful national parks – Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Drive along the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, the southern-most route across the Bighorn National Forest, for views of the Bighorn Mountains that are framed by yellow- and gold-hued aspens.

    Budget Travel Lists

    The 12 best day trips in the US Southwest

    Rugged. Beautiful. And fun. The Southwest is the ultimate playground, luring adventurers with red-rock canyons, Wild West legends and the kicky delights of green chile stew. Day trips in this region conjure up visions of vast desert landscapes, rodeos, and lake adventures. Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Best day trips from Austin FredericksburgWith a wealth of events, wineries and in-town attractions, it’s often hard to decide how to best spend a day in Fredericksburg. It was settled by some of Texas’ first German immigrant families, and the European frontier ethos shines through in the architecture and history of the town itself. Further afield, vineyard tours are a hit with groups on weekend trips from Austin. 1hr 30min by car. Fall foliage on the river at Guadalupe State Park ©Richard A McMillin/ShutterstockGuadalupe RiverThere’s no better respite from the Central Texas summer than jumping in the water, and few places could beat the Guadalupe River; specifically, drifting down its course on an inner tube. Head to Guadalupe River State Park for a family friendly float (plus campsites and hiking), or look for local private operators that offer a more party-focused experience on the river. 1hr 30min by car. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, FredericksburgThe 425ft high pink granite dome of Enchanted Rock towers over the surrounding Central Texas hills. The popular Summit Hike tracks past vernal pools and rock fissures to panoramic views from the top. Queues form at the State Park gate as early as 8am on busy weekends, but campers with confirmed reservations cruise straight on through and into the park. 1hr 40min by car. Best day trips from Dallas The daily Texas longhorn cattledrive through the Stockyard streets ©typhoonski/Getty ImagesFort WorthFamous as being "Where the West Begins," Fort Worth still has the cowboy feel. It first rose to prominence during the great open-range cattle drives of the late 19th century. These days, the legendary Stockyards are the prime visitor destination, hosting twice-daily mini-cattle drives and rodeos every weekend. Downtown is bursting with restaurants and bars, while the Cultural District boasts three amazing art museums. 40min by car. Waco, TexasIn this college town, Magnolia Market at the Silos draws more visitors than the Alamo. Once you’ve shopped, played and eaten at ‘Fixer-Upper’ duo Chip and Joanna Gaines’ biggest renovation project, stroll Baylor’s 1000-acre campus or stand-up paddle straight through town on the Brazos River. 1hr 30min by car. Caddo Lake State ParkCaddo Lake State Park is a good place to start your lake adventure. Take an interpretive hike through the cypress forest on the lake’s western edge. Or, in summer, rent a canoe. The park has some great little cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the riverside tent sites are pretty sweet. 2hr 30min by car. Best day trips from Phoenix Saguaro National ParkSaguaros are icons of the American Southwest, and an entire cactus army of these majestic, ribbed sentinels is protected in this desert playground. Saguaro National Park is divided into east and west units, separated by 30 miles and Tucson itself. Both sections – the Rincon Mountain District in the east and Tucson Mountain District in the west – are filled with trails and desert flora; if you only visit one, make it the spectacular western half. 1hr 40min by car. Watch the desert sunset in Sedona ©aaronj9/ShutterstockSedonaNestled amid striking red sandstone formations, Sedona's truly spectacular landscape has long attracted spiritual seekers, artists and healers. Outdoorsy adventurers have begun to see the light as well: there are some inimitable thrills to be had hiking, mountain biking and climbing amid these desert spires. Red Rock State Park has 5 miles of well-marked, interconnecting trails in gorgeous red-rock country. 2hr by car. Historic train station in Flagstaff at sunset ©Nick Fox/ShutterstockFlagstaffThe laid-back charms of Flagstaff, the home of Northern Arizona University, are many; from a pedestrian-friendly historic downtown, bedecked with vintage neon, to hiking and skiing in the country’s largest ponderosa pine forest. 2hr 30min by car. Best day trips from Las Vegas Desert landscape at sunset at the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area ©Dean Pennalad/500pxRed Rock CanyonRed Rock's dramatic vistas are revered by Las Vegas locals and adored by visitors from around the world. Formed by extreme tectonic forces, it's thought the canyon, whose 3000ft red rock escarpment rises sharply from the valley floor, was formed around 65 million years ago. A 13-mile, one-way scenic loop drive offers mesmerizing vistas of the canyon's most striking features. Hiking trails and rock-climbing routes radiate from roadside parking areas. 30min by car. Valley of Fire State ParkA masterpiece of Southwest desert scenery, the Valley of Fire State Park contains 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, petrified trees and ancient Native American petroglyphs (at Atlatl Rock). Dedicated in 1935, this was Nevada's first designated state park. Its psychedelic landscape has been carved by wind and water over thousands of years. 50min by car. Lost City MuseumWander away from the big city to unearth some of the best art, culture and history on the continent in the most unexpected places. At the Lost City Museum, learn about the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans through reconstructed homes and the artifacts that were saved as this desert land developed. 1hr by car.

    Budget Travel Lists

    Budget Travel readers' 2020 bucket list

    ©Witold Skrypczak/Alamy Stock Photo Big Bend National Park in Texas provides some of the best stargazing sites in North America. ©John Woodworth/Getty Images Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming is beautiful, and Yellowstone is a short drive away! ©f11photo/Shutterstock Las Vegas is a perennial favorite (albeit difficult to do on a budget). ©Yukinori Hasumi/Getty Images New York, New York, the city of lights. ©mtnmichelle/Getty Images Lots of Budget Travel readers are planning trips to Alaska in 2020! ©Valentin Prokopets/500px/Getty Images Who among us wouldn't want a trip to Hawaii? ©pics721/Shutterstock Cruises to the Bahamas can be found for cheap rates! ©f11photo/Shutterstock Charleston, South Carolina, is a great place for a long weekend. ©CPQ/Shutterstock Witness the thunderous natural power of Niagara Falls. ©Micha Weber/Shutterstock New Orleans, Louisiana (or NOLA), known for throwing a great party. ©Martin Wheeler/EyeEm/Getty Images San Juan in Puerto Rico is an explosion of color! ©cdrin/Shutterstock Seattle, Washington, has great weather and mountain views! ©Matt Munro/Lonely Planet Sedona, Arizona, might be a center of mysterious spiritual vortexes. ©lightphoto/Getty Images The Catskills in New York are a great road trip!

    Budget Travel Lists

    10 Most Relaxing Spas in America

    Need a little R&R? Say no more! We’ve scoured the country to find the 10 most relaxing spas in the U.S. If you’re ready to unwind, pack a bag and head to one of these sanctuaries. 1. Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, FL (Courtesy @acqualinaresort/Instagram)Take in breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean from one of the 98 impeccable guest rooms at this five-star resort and spa located on 4.5 beachfront acres in Sunny Isles Beach, Miami (one of our favorite cities for foodie adventures and more). Enjoy a soak in one of the resort’s three oceanfront swimming pools before retreating indoors to the property’s world-class, 20,000-square-foot spa. Its signature spa treatments include a full-body massage using hot volcanic stones, a hot salt stone massage, and a detoxifying body wrap and advanced body massage that targets cellulite, fluid retention, and skin tonicity. The spa also has a Finnish sauna, a crystal steam room, and a shower room with cool Arctic and warm Caribbean mists. 2. Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, TX Built on a secluded lakefront, this sprawling Texas getaway is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a luxury resort with waterfront views. The resort offers more than 100 spa treatments and services, from seaweed body wraps and collagen-boosting facials to Thai massages and acupuncture. Guests can also enjoy any of the resort’s wide range of activities that are included in their stay such as a Mediterranean cooking class, outdoor yoga session, or canyon preserve hike. 3. Auberge du Soleil in Napa, CA Budget Travelers have always loved California wine country. Secluded inside a terraced, sun-kissed hillside amid 33-acres of heritage olive and oak trees, this Napa Valley resort has a spa surrounded by sweeping views of the wine country. Its “best of Auberge facial” uses advanced ingredients rich in marine collagen, powerful antioxidants, and exfoliating enzymes to provide immediate firming and facial contour results. Traveling with your significant other? Get a joint full-body exfoliation using crushed grape seeds, followed by a fragrant bath for two in a private garden where you’ll enjoy fresh fruit and wine before receiving side-by-side scalp and foot treatments, followed by full-body massages. 4. Encore spa at Wynn resort and casino in Las Vegas Sin City tops many traveler’s must-see list. This hotel spa may just be the definition of opulence. Featuring designer treatment rooms, the Wynn’s Encore spa sets a tranquil mood with glowing gold lanterns, life-size Buddhas, and blossoming orchids. For a relaxing full-body treatment order the Good Luck Ritual, which combines a custom massage, invigorating peppermint foot treatment, ultra-moisturizing hand therapy, and botanical scalp treatment. Have tired, achy feet? The Encore Foot Surrender will revitalize them by incorporating the use of steamed herbal poultices, reflex point therapy and a cooling peppermint foot treatment. 5. Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel in New York City This Japanese-inspired wellness center is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Lanterns that softly illuminate the heated swimming pool set a soft ambience that will put your mind at ease. Consider getting the Bamboo Glow, a bamboo and lemongrass body scrub followed by a private shower with yuzu sea algae wash, a mint mineral bath, and a 60-minute, moisture-binding massage infused with bergamot, vetiver, and wild, Japanese lime. Spa guests also enjoy complimentary tea and dried fruits. 6. The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, PA A two-hour drive from New York City, this resort’s luxurious spa draws guests with its selection of creative body treatments, massages, facials, and salon services. Enjoy a soak in the facility’s activity pool with floor to ceiling windows, surrounded by nature, before retiring to one of the 27 treatment rooms for a European deep cleansing facial, Swedish magnesium massage, or Thai bodywork—a technique that uses stretching, point therapy, and breath work to create a sense of balance throughout the body. In addition, the spa specializes in pre-natal treatments that focus on rehydrating skin and promoting circulation. 7. Mii Amo in Sedona, AZ You’ll fall under Sedona’s spell at this ultra-private spa retreat nestled in a red-rock canyon that’s sacred to Native Americans. Guests can choose from a 3-, 4- or 7-night all-inclusive program that includes scheduled fitness classes, lectures, and two spa services per day. Opt for one of its indigenous-inspired therapies, such as the Soul Seeker treatment, where a master therapist uses guided imagery, energy soul journeying, emotional release, and breath work to help you achieve heightened awareness. 8. Sundara Inn & Spa in Wisconsin Dells, WI Tucked in a pine forest on the scenic outskirts of Wisconsin Dells, this resort’s spa is the perfect spot to disconnect and enjoy spa treatments that blend ancient wisdom with modern wellness techniques. Guests can choose from a wide range of spa treatments, including a coffee bean firming body wrap, exfoliating wrinkle reduction facial, or warm oil scalp massage. Also, the indoor bathhouse features an essential oil-infused hot pool with hydro jets, a cool plunge pool that improves circulation, a rainfall shower, and a steam room with aromas of rose and sandalwood. 9. Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe, NM (Courtesy @sunrisespringsnm/Instagram)With 70 tranquil acres of gardens, walking paths, and a scenic high desert landscape, this Santa Fe resort attracts guests from around the world to its wellness spa, which offers the best of Eastern and Western therapies. One of the spa’s cutting-edge treatments is a CBD full-body massage therapy that uses CBD oils and products grown and processed in Colorado to release tension in sore muscles and reduce inflammation in joints. The spa also offers—among many treatments—a facial that uses hot herbal towels and wild-crafted local herbs to gently soothe and tone skin. 10. The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY Founded in 1869, this Hudson Valley destination serves up skin and body treatments in a 30,000-square-foot eco-friendly spa, which includes 16 treatment rooms, relaxation verandas, solarium, 60-foot long indoor heated pool, and outdoor heated mineral pool. The spa offers more than 80 unique treatments, including a deep-heat massage with arnica oil helps calm the nerves and provides relief to over-used muscles. A nice bonus: both men’s and women’s changing rooms have a eucalyptus steam room and dry rock sauna.

    Budget Travel Lists

    Travel News: 10 Most Welcoming Countries on Earth

    Our friends at Booking.com (who power Budget Travel’s lodging-booking page) recently announced their annual Guest Review Awards, honoring more than 750,000 properties around the globe that deliver exceptional guest experiences. When a huge booking site crunches tons of user-provided data, some trends tend to emerge. Here, some of Booking.com’s findings, including some of the most welcoming places around the globe and in the U.S. TRAVELERS VALUE APARTMENTS AND OTHER UNIQUE LODGINGS In yet another sign of a significant paradigm shift in the way people travel, apartments were the top awarded accommodation category, comprising 36 percent of Booking.com’s award-winning properties worldwide in 2018. Hotels came in second. But perhaps most significantly, a full 73 percent of all award-winning properties were “unique properties,” including not only apartments but also private homes, bed and breakfasts, farmstays, riads, boats, and even igloos. 10 MOST WELCOMING COUNTRIES ON EARTH A significant number of travelers, more than 70 percent of those surveyed, reported that “friendly and interesting locals” are among the criteria they value most when choosing a destination. With that in mind, Booking.com for the first time compiled a list of the “most welcoming” countries in the world. We couldn’t help noticing that eight of the top 10 are affordable European destinations—let them inspire your next hop across the pond (or beyond): Austria Czech Republic Poland New Zealand Taiwan Romania Hungary Ireland Serbia Greece 10 MOST WELCOMING CITIES IN THE U.S. Further fuel for your wanderlust can be found in Booking.com’s most welcoming cities in the U.S., a good number of which Budget Travel has covered in recent years in our Locals Know Best and 51 Affordable Discoveries series: Newport, RISedona, AZOklahoma City, OKPittsburgh, PAFort Worth, TXBaltimore, MDLouisville, KYArlington, VAAnaheim, CAJacksonville, FL

    10 Endangered State Parks

    California's Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve has made big news twice in the past two years. The first time came in December 2010, when scientists thought they'd discovered an unusual form of bacteria that devoured arsenic while it lurked in the mud around the lake's knobby limestone spires. But it was the second headline, five months later, that was really scary. That was when California's state parks department announced that Mono Lake itself was about to be wiped out—though by a far more mundane force. SEE THE STATE PARKS NOW! Mono was one of 70 parks targeted by the state in an effort to cut $22 million from California's budget gap, which totaled $9.2 billion at the time. Also on the list: Jack London's former home and writing studio in Sonoma County and a handful of old-growth redwood forests along the northern coast. All told, California was talking about mothballing about 25 percent of its 278 parks. The news hasn't been much better elsewhere. New York, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Virginia, and Idaho have contemplated closing parks in recent years; Ohio has considered leasing some state park lands for oil and gas drilling to help raise money; and Virginia has explored corporate partnerships to keep park gates open. What gets lost in this game of budgetary Russian roulette is how precious these lands can be. State parks, such as the ones you'll see here, often rival their national-park cousins in sheer beauty: Did you know that Niagara Falls is actually a New York state park? Last year, the nation's 6,624 state parks attracted 720 million visitors, more than twice what the national parks see, and they do it with almost $1 billion less in annual operating revenue. "Some states have had cuts of 30, 40, 50 percent or more in their operating budgets, and some budgets have been cut twice in one year," says Rich Dolesh, the vice president for conservation and parks at the National Recreation and Park Association. Yet, true to their more-with-less ethos, state parks are finding imaginative ways to hang on. Michigan has seen some success selling annual passes to its parks system, and other states have made arrangements with communities and nonprofits to share the financial burden—at least for a while. In April 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged $89 million for repairs and improvements to his state's parks. As for California: As of press time, 65 of the 70 endangered parks had been temporarily spared—including Mono Lake—thanks to help from the communities that depend on them. They've cobbled together private donations, volunteer staffing, and funding by city and county governments and nonprofits to try to bridge the gaps. We may not be out of the woods yet, but we're certainly sniffing out the trail. 1. MONO LAKE TUFA STATE NATURAL RESERVE  California This park's namesake tufa towers, limestone formations that rise from its 65-square-mile lake, are impressive from wherever you're standing. But to fully apprecate them, you've got to approach like an osprey might: coming in low over the water. Can't fly? Then bring a canoe. Up close, the spires resemble white-chalk skyscrapers, a kind of surreal city that's visited by more than a million migratory birds each year. Just don't get too close to the ospreys themselves. From April through August, the birds nest on the towers, and it's forbidden to come within 200 yards. Like anything else this old—the lake has been around for anywhere from 760,000 to 3 million years—Mono Lake endured its share of woe long before the latest California budget struggle. Between 1941 and 1981, Mono lost half its volume and doubled in salinity after four of its five tributaries were diverted to supplement Los Angeles's water supply. Even now, it's almost three times as salty as the ocean. Yet, thanks to the Mono Lake Committee, which rallied to reclaim those lost streams in 1978, the lake is slowly filling up again. And now that the nonprofit Bodie Foundation has stepped in to help keep Mono Lake open to the public, you'll be able to witness the lake's gradual climb back to a healthy level—however long that takes. Let's hope we can say the same for the rest of California's parks. Where to Stay: There's no camping at Mono Lake, but you'll find a range of accommodations in Mammoth Lakes, a ski town 40 miles south. The pet-friendly Mammoth Creek Inn Hotel and Spa has a new spa and fitness center and 26 renovated rooms (themammothcreek.com, doubles from $109). While You're There: You can't very well travel to Mono Lake and not tack on a visit to Yosemite National Park, just 13 miles west. Although, with nearly 12,000 square miles to explore, you'll need more than a brief detour to tackle it all (nps.gov, admission $20 per car). How to Help: Make a donation to the Bodie Foundation, specifying that you'd like the money to go toward Mono Lake (bodiefoundation.org). Park Info: 1 Visitor Center Drive, Lee Vining, Calif., 760/647-6331, parks.ca.gov, hours vary (call the park in advance to check), admission free, parking $3. 2. NIAGARA FALLS STATE PARK  New York Niagara Falls has an image problem. Really. Start with the fact that almost no one knows that this crown jewel of the state park system is a state park—not to mention that, at 127 years old, it's also the nation's oldest. The American side has long played second fiddle to the casino-and-hotel-lined Canadian section, due in part to New York State's $1 billion park-repairs deficit, which has left its falls in desperate need of pedestrian bridges, railings, walkways, and upgraded water and electrical systems. Last year, the New York Times had one word to describe the 400 acres surrounding Niagara: "shabby." But even in reduced circumstances, Niagara is worth the trip. There's actual nature on the American side—it feels like a park, not a Vegas Strip knockoff. And that nature has a pedigree: The park was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the man behind New York's Central Park. In April, the state launched a $25 million project that will address the park's urgent infrastructure needs as well as restore elements—native plantings, intimate overlooks—outlined in Olmsted's plan. Today, prime viewpoints can be found on Goat Island, which sits between the American and Canadian falls. But the best bang for your buck is the $1 elevator ride up the Observation Tower at Prospect Point, which yields a priceless view from 220 feet. No raincoats necessary. Where to Stay: The 39-room Giacomo, in a 1929 Art Deco building, opened three years ago with modern furniture and abstract art; rooms also have free Wi-Fi, Keurig coffeemakers, and refrigerators (thegiacomo.com, doubles from $139). The Giacomo is two blocks from the park, and you can see the rapids from the hotel's 19th-floor Skyview Lounge. While You're There: If you've brought your passport, the Butterfly Conservatory at Canada's Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens is worth a border crossing. Its 2,000 airborne inhabitants (from 45 species) have been known to alight on certain lucky visitors (niagaraparks.com, admission $13, parking $5). How to Help: Donate to any New York state park via the Natural Heritage Trust (nysparks.com), the Alliance for New York State Parks (allnysparks.org), Parks & Trails New York (ptny.org), or any individual park's website. Park Info: First St. and Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls, N.Y., 716/278-1796, nysparks.com, open 24 hours daily, admission free. 3. LUDINGTON STATE PARK  Michigan Michigan's Recreation Passport Program, a $10 annual park pass, has pumped $6 million into the state and local parks system since it launched in 2010. The bad news: Collectively, parks around the state still need more than $300 million in repairs. The roof at Ludington's nature center buckled under heavy snow in 2009, and it still hasn't been fixed. Now the entire building has to be torn down. Sadly, there's no money for that either. Ludington deserves better. Snug between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, the nearly 5,300-acre park has seven miles of sandy, dune-strewn beaches, a historic lighthouse you can climb, more than 20 miles of hiking trails (plus paths for biking and cross-country skiing), and the shallow, clear Big Sable River, which is perfect for drifting down in an inner tube. No wonder Ludington has been a Great Lakes-area favorite since it was established 76 years ago. Where to Stay: Ludington's four campgrounds fill up quickly; reserve campsites six months in advance or cabins and yurts one year out, when openings are posted (midnrreservations.com, camping from $16). You can also try the Lamplighter Bed & Breakfast, an 1892 home with an original oak banister, leaded-glass windows, and a porcelain-tiled fireplace (ludington-michigan.com, doubles from $115). While You're There: Explore downtown Ludington, a onetime logging-town-turned-beach-retreat, or go further back in time at Historic White Pine Village, two miles south. The site has a collection of 29 restored (or re-created) 19th-century buildings, enhanced with educational exhibits (historicwhitepinevillage.org, adults $9). How to Help: Make a tax-deductible donation to a specific park or purchase a gift certificate (for camping fees, mooring fees, and merchandise) at michigan.gov. Park Info: 8800 W. M-116, Ludington, Mich., 231/843-2423, michigan.gov, open daily 8 A.M.-10 P.M., admission $8. 4. CACHE RIVER STATE NATURAL AREA  Illinois There are more famous swamps than the one in Cache River State Natural Area, a nearly 15,000-acre Illinois state park 30 miles from the Kentucky border. The Everglades, say, or Okefenokee. But who wants a crowd along? One of the northernmost examples of a true Southern swamp, the delightfully under-the-radar Cache River park gets only about 200,000 annual visitors—that's about one visitor per acre per month. Other life forms aren't nearly so scarce here: The park's wetlands, floodplains, forests, and limestone barrens harbor more than 100 threatened or endangered species. It's best explored by canoe, along six miles of paddling trails that bring you face-to-face with massive tupelo and cypress trunks. There are also 20 miles of foot trails in the park and a floating boardwalk that leads to the center of Heron Pond, which is carpeted in summer with a bright-green layer of floating duckweed. BYO boat, or rent one from White Crane Canoe and Pirogue Rentals in Ullin, Ill., about 12 miles west (whitecranerentals.com, canoe rental $15 per person per day). Where to Stay: A half-hour drive west of the park, Anna, Ill., has a handful of antiques shops, a pottery museum, and the Davie School Inn, an 11-room, all-suite B&B in a converted 1910 schoolhouse (davieschoolinn.com, doubles from $100). While You're There: Work in a detour to Metropolis, Ill., a.k.a. Superman's hometown. The Super Museum has more than 20,000 TV and movie props and other collectibles amassed by owner Jim Hambrick (supermuseum.com, admission $5). How to Help: Join the Friends of the Cache River Watershed nonprofit (friendsofcache.org). Park Info: 930 Sunflower Lane, Belknap, Ill., 618/634-9678, dnr.state.il.us, visitors center hours Wed.-Sun. 9 A.M.-4 P.M., admission free. 5. RED ROCK STATE PARK  Arizona When the grandest of canyons is in your backyard, it's easy to take your lesser landmarks for granted. That seemed to be the case in Arizona, which targeted 13 of its 22 parks for closure in 2010, including Red Rock. Fortunately, not everyone was so quick to write off the little guys. Red Rock's lifeline arrived via the Yavapai County and City of Sedona governments and the Benefactors of Red Rock State Park, which jointly raised $240,000 to temporarily finance the park. That will keep this 286-acre nature preserve open at least until June 2013. Among the best ways to take in the rust-colored canyon are the park's five miles of hiking trails and one mile for biking and horseback riding. Birding is big here, too: Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8 A.M. (7 A.M. in summer), guides lead aviary walks along the banks of Oak Creek, and guests can follow along with the park's checklist of feathered regulars: black-chinned hummingbirds, great blue herons, and the occasional yellow-billed cuckoo. Everything in Red Rock is colorful! Where to Stay: Sedona's hotels can be pricey, so try an apartment or casita rental on vrbo.com, with over 150 local listings—some under $100 per night. While You're There: Get your massage fix. Sedona regulars favor Stillpoint...Living in Balance, naming its massage the "Best of Sedona" in a local poll the past four years (stillpointbalance.com, 70-minute massage $90). How to Help: Visit benefactorsrrsp.org to make a donation, or sign up for a subscription to Arizona Highways magazine: $5 of the $24 cost will be directed to the park of your choice (arizonahighways.com). Park Info: 4050 Red Rock Loop Rd., Sedona, Ariz., 928/282-6907, azstateparks.com, open daily 8 A.M.-5 P.M., admission $10 per car or $3 for individuals. 6. BLACKWATER FALLS STATE PARK West Virginia Blackwater Falls's namesake cascade isn't just the most picturesque spot in this 2,456-acre park—it's also one of the most photographed places in the state. The area is equally eye-catching when it's dressed in the bright greens of spring, the Crayola-box colors of autumn, or silvery winter, when parts of the falls freeze into man-size icicles. The falls themselves—more brown than black—get their distinctive hue from tannic acid that leaches into the river from hemlock and red spruce needles upstream. But there's something potentially more serious darkening the future of West Virginia's state parks: hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) wells that could be built on ecologically significant public lands. Surface rights don't always include the mineral rights when park land is acquired; in West Virginia, the mineral rights under approximately 40 percent of the state parks, including Blackwater, are privately held. It's those split-custody parks that experts say are at greatest risk. Chief Logan State Park, about 200 miles away, already lost a fracking battle when the state's Supreme Court, over the objection of the W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection, voted unanimously in 2010 to allow natural gas drilling in the park—a process that typically calls for not just drilling, but also the construction of roads and the clear-cutting of trees. Almost the entire state of West Virginia sits atop the Marcellus Shale, the natural-gas source targeted at Chief Logan, which means that a dozen or so other parks could soon find themselves fighting for their rights, too. Where to Stay: Outdoorsy types can pitch a tent at 65 campsites, or upgrade to one of 26 deluxe cabins with full kitchens, private bathrooms, and fireplaces—but not A/C. For that creature comfort, you'll need to book a night in the 54-room lodge, which also has a game room and an indoor pool (blackwaterfalls.com, camping from $20, lodge rooms from $84). While You're There: Plan a day trip to the small yet lively town of Elkins, W. Va., taking the hour long scenic route through Blackwater and Canaan Valley State Park. In Elkins, the Randolph County Community Arts Center hosts free concerts, arts workshops, and traveling exhibitions year-round—its third Smithsonian exhibition just came through this summer (randolpharts.org). How to Help: Donate cash, stock, or even office supplies to Friends of Blackwater, a group focused on preserving the ecosystem of Blackwater Canyon (saveblackwater.org). Park Info: 1584 Blackwater Lodge Rd., Davis, W. Va., 304/259-5216, blackwaterfalls.com, open 6 A.M.-10 P.M., admission free. 7. HONEYMOON ISLAND STATE PARK Florida You'd expect a place called Honeymoon Island to be dreamy, and with four miles of white beaches and two more of nature trails (where osprey, terns, and bald eagles nest), Florida's most popular state park is tailor-made for romantic strolls. Even back when it was known as Hog Island—before a 1930s developer put up a string of beach cottages and renamed the spot to lure newlyweds—visitors to the tiny barrier island were all but guaranteed dolphin sightings and stunning sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. The cottages are gone now, but more than a million people still cross the bridge to the island each year to spend the day swimming, surfing, kayaking, and collecting shells along the north shore. The only thing you can't do is sleep under the stars. Last year Florida proposed adding a privately run RV campground to Honeymoon Island State Park, citing high demand for more camping opportunities in state parks. However, area residents protested the campground and its potential disruption of the park's ecosystem, and the plans were dropped. For now, at least, the beaches close at sunset, with only those osprey, terns, and eagles to look after them. Where to Stay: Hotels and vacation rentals abound in the adjacent towns of Dunedin and Clearwater. Frenchy's Oasis Motel, 11 miles south of the park, gives the old-fashioned motor lodge a Mid-Century Modern spin with starburst clocks, a bright, citrusy palette, and free Wi-Fi (frenchysoasismotel.com, doubles from $119). While You're There: Before a hurricane divided them in the 1920s, Honeymoon Island and neighboring Caladesi Island were a single land mass. Today, you can only reach car-free Caladesi by boat (or Jet Ski). The only public ferries leave from Honeymoon Island; rides take 20 minutes and run every half hour starting at 10 A.M. (caladesiferry.org, $14 round-trip). How to Help: Make a tax-deductible donation through Florida's Help Our State Parks (HOSP) program (mailed to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., MS 540, Tallahassee, FL 32399). Park Info: 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, Fla., 727/469-5942, floridastateparks.org, open daily 8 A.M. to sundown, admission $8 per vehicle ($4 for solo drivers) or $2 for pedestrians and cyclists. 8. KATY TRAIL STATE PARK  Missouri The largest rails-to-trails conversion in America, the 240-mile Katy Trail spans Missouri's midsection, from Clinton in the west to Machens in the east, along the former track of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad (a.k.a. the Katy). The mostly flat path is open to hikers and cyclists—and in some sections, horseback riders—and traverses historic railroad bridges, tunnels, forests, valleys, and open fields. In spots, it skirts the edge of the Missouri River. Some hardy souls tackle the whole trail (a roughly five-day undertaking for an experienced cyclist). Those who prefer a more leisurely trek should consider a daytrip between Rocheport and Boonville, two early-19th-century towns (the latter established by Daniel Boone's offspring) separated by 12 miles of nature preserves, vineyards, and river views. Of course, all those miles of pathway—including 500 bridges and 60 buildings—don't just tend themselves, and it is estimated that the Katy Trail has $47.5 million in deferred maintenance projects, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total $200 million backlog of repairs needed in Missouri's parks. Where to stay: There are no campgrounds in the park, but you can have your pick of small-town inns along the route. Some cater to cyclists with extras such as free laundry service, double-size whirlpool tubs, and free bike storage and tune-up tools. Rocheport's School House Bed & Breakfast, in a three-story brick schoolhouse from 1914, sweetens the deal with fresh-baked cookies at check-in (schoolhousebb.com, doubles from $149). While you're there: Missouri's 100-plus wineries produce nearly half a million cases of wine each year. Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery, the state's third-largest, is just outside downtown Rocheport on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River (missouriwine.com, open daily 11 A.M.-6 P.M.). Bonus: The School House Bed and Breakfast gives rides to guests who are too tired to make the uphill trek. How to help: Donation boxes are posted at all trailheads; you can also "adopt" a section of trail or a bike rack or make a tax-deductible donation at katytrailstatepark.com. Park Info: Clinton, Mo., to Machens, Mo., 800/334-6946, katytrailstatepark.com, open sunrise to sunset, admission free. 9. VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK  Nevada In the past four years, general funding for Nevada's state parks has been reduced by roughly 60 percent, with almost $3 million cut in 2011 alone. While no closures are planned, the parks are suffering from reduced maintenance, and staffing levels have been cut by 19 percent, even as attendance has grown. One of the state's best-loved parks is the Valley of Fire, 42,000 arid acres about an hour's drive northeast from Las Vegas. The park delivers its own kind of high-stakes drama, trading neon and nightclubs for 150-million-year-old sandstone formations and 3,000-year-old petroglyphs (images carved in rock). You could even say it has star quality: The surreal, burnt-sienna landscape stood in for Mars in the 1990 movie Total Recall. If you're embarking on your own photo safari or DIY sci-fi flick in Nevada's largest state park, don't miss Arch Rock, Elephant Rock, or the Beehives, all of which are essentially solid-stone versions of exactly what they sound like. And be sure to take snapshots with and without people in the frame—the structures are even more outstanding when you can get a sense of their scale. Most important of all: Bring lots of water with you. There are few facilities within the park, and the sandy stretches of some hikes make them more strenuous than you'd think, particularly in the summer, when Mojave Desert temperatures top 120 degrees. Best to come in spring or fall for a more comfortable trip. Where to Stay: The park contains 72 campsites, including RV spots with water and electrical hookups (campsites $20 per night plus $10 for hookups; $2 discount for Nevada residents). If that's not your speed, the family-run North Shore Inn has a pool, in-room fridges, and powerful air conditioning (northshoreinnatlakemead.com, doubles from $85). While You're There: When you've had your fill of heat, the waters of Lake Mead are about six miles away. Boat rentals for fishing and water skiing are plentiful; the nearest outfitter is Echo Bay Marina, on the lake's northern reach (echobaylakemead.com, five-seat fishing boats $60 for a half-day rental). How to Help: There's a donation jar in the visitors center where you can deposit a contribution. Park Info: Interstate 15 at Highway 169, Exit 75, Overton, Nev., 702/397-2088, parks.nv.gov, open daily sunrise to sunset (except for campers), admission $10 per vehicle (or $8 for Nevada residents). 10. OHIOPYLE STATE PARK  Pennsylvania If ever there were an all-purpose park, southwestern Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State Park is it. Looking for waterfalls? It has four (including the one in our slide show, which seems as if it must have inspired Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house, just five miles away). Trails? Hikers get 79 miles of them—plus 27 miles for cyclists, 11 for folks on horseback, and nearly 40 for cross-country skiers. And why not throw in a natural water slide or two? The lifeblood of the 20,000-acre park, however, is the Youghiogheny River Gorge-a.k.a. the Yough. The Middle Yough, which flows to Ohiopyle from Confluence, Pa., is the gentler section, with Class I and II rapids for rafters and kayakers; the Lower Yough, downstream, gets up to Class IV whitewater. Combined, they attract a good chunk of the 1 million people who visit the park every year. But if Ohiopyle has a little something for everyone, there's a lot more to the park than meets the eye—and that's just the problem. Like some 60 other Pennsylvania state parks (as well as West Virginia's Blackwater Falls, on page 60), Ohiopyle is situated atop the natural-gas-rich Marcellus Shale-and the state doesn't own the mineral rights underneath the park. In fact, the mineral rights to about 80 percent of Pennsylvania's state park lands are privately owned (or available for lease), and under current legal precedent, mineral rights are given precedence over surface rights. Parks advocates fear that it won't be long before a drilling rig is erected in a state park. Sound alarmist? Well, Pennsylvania issued its first lease for oil and gas extraction on state forest lands back in 1947 and drilling continues today. Where to Stay: The quietest campsites in Ohiopyle's Kentuck campground are the walk-in sites numbered 51-64 and 103-115; however, some folks have found the camp's firm 9 P.M. quiet hours a little too restrictive. If your brood tends to get livelier as the night wears on, consider a vacation rental in Hidden Valley, Pa., or Seven Springs, Pa., both less than 30 miles to the northeast; these two ski towns have solid selections of rental condos and homes that can be deeply discounted in the off-season (vrbo.com). While You're There: Two Frank Lloyd Wright homes are within a 10-minute drive of the park: world-famous Fallingwater, designed in 1935 (fallingwater.org, admission $8), and the lesser-known Kentuck Knob, built in 1956 (kentuckknob.com, tours from $20). How to Help: Send a donation through paparksandforests.org, or pick up a 16-month (Sept. 2012-Dec. 2013) Civilian Conservation Corps wall calendar, the profits from which are reinvested in parks (888/727-2757, $8.50). Park Info: 124 Main Street, Ohiopyle, Pa., 724/329-8591, dcnr.state.pa.us, open from dawn to dusk, admission free.

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    Jerome is a town in the Black Hills of Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. Founded in the late 19th century on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley, Jerome is located more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level. It is about 100 miles (160 km) north of Phoenix along State Route 89A between Sedona and Prescott. Supported in its heyday by rich copper mines, it was home to more than 10,000 people in the 1920s. As of the 2010 census, its population was 444. It is now known for its tourist attractions, such as its "ghost town" status and local wineries.The town owes its existence mainly to two ore bodies that formed about 1.75 billion years ago along a ring fault in the caldera of an undersea volcano. Tectonic plate movements, plate collisions, uplift, deposition, erosion, and other geologic processes eventually exposed the tip of one of the ore bodies and pushed the other close to the surface, both near Jerome. In the late 19th century, the United Verde Mine, developed by William A. Clark, extracted ore bearing copper, gold, silver, and other metals from the larger of the two. The United Verde Extension UVX Mine, owned by James Douglas Jr., depended on the other huge deposit. In total, the copper deposits discovered in the vicinity of Jerome were among the richest ever found. Jerome made news in 1917 when labor unrest involving the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) led to the expulsion at gunpoint of about 60 IWW members, who were loaded on a cattle car and shipped west. Production at the mines, always subject to fluctuations, boomed during World War I, fell thereafter, rose again, then fell again during and after the Great Depression. As the ore deposits ran out, the mines closed for good in 1953, and the population dwindled to fewer than 100. Efforts to save the town from oblivion succeeded when residents turned to tourism and retail sales. Jerome became a National Historic Landmark in 1967. By the early 21st century, Jerome had art galleries, coffee houses, restaurants, a state park, and a local museum devoted to mining history.

    DESTINATION IN Arizona

    Flagstaff

    Flagstaff is a city in, and the county seat of, Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2019, the city's estimated population was 75,038. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau and within the San Francisco volcanic field, along the western side of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the continental United States. The city sits at around 7,000 feet (2,100 m) and is next to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona. Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m), is about 10 miles (16 km) north of Flagstaff in Kachina Peaks Wilderness. The geology of the Flagstaff area includes exposed rock from the Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras, with Moenkopi Formation red sandstone having once been quarried in the city; many of the historic downtown buildings were constructed with it. The Rio de Flag river runs through the city. Originally settled by the pre-Columbian native Sinagua people, the area of Flagstaff has fertile land from volcanic ash after eruptions in the 11th century. It was first settled as the present-day city in 1876. Local businessmen lobbied for Route 66 to pass through the city, which it did, turning the local industry from lumber to tourism and developing downtown Flagstaff. In 1930, Pluto was discovered from Flagstaff. The city developed further through to the end of the 1960s, with various observatories also used to choose Moon landing sites for the Apollo missions. Through the 1970s and 1980s, downtown fell into disrepair, but was revitalized with a major cultural heritage project in the 1990s. The city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as Nestlé Purina PetCare, and is home to the U.S. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station, the United States Geological Survey Flagstaff Station, and Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, and Historic Route 66.