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The best US lakes for recreation
Lake Powell Lake Powell is a reservoir in Glen Canyon National Recreational Area near the Utah and Arizona border. The water is a crisp blue, and snakes through the red rock canyon, offering plenty of opportunities for water sports and recreation. Visitors to Lake Powell can take a boat tour, go waterskiing and visit Cathedral in the Desert, a stunning rock monument located in Lake Powell. Its location near the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley provides an amazing opportunity for adventurers to have the road trip of a lifetime. Lake Lanier Lake Lanier is located in North Georgia, about an hour from Atlanta and a short drive from Chattanooga. It is a man-made reservoir made by damming the Chattahoochee River to provide electricity and flood control for nearby Atlanta. More than 10 million people visit Lake Lanier annually, with many of them using the Lanier Islands as a recreational hub. The Lanier Islands have plenty of lodging and dining options for all budgets, including tent camping and an RV park. Lake of the Ozarks Missouri's crown jewel of a lake sits in the middle of the state and offers a world-class destination. Visitors can find a plethora of land-based activities, restaurants and accommodations. In addition, there are countless marinas available to rent or store a boat. There are also 32 hiking trails near the lake, along with four caves to explore. There is inexpensive camping available nearby at Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Pickwick Lake © Laura Brown / Budget Travel Pickwick Lake, Tennessee The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) created a series of 9 major dams across Tennessee during the 1930s and 1940s to bring affordable electricity and jobs to an area stricken by the Great Depression. Today, all the TVA lakes are great for water sports and recreation, but our favorite is Pickwick Lake, on the border of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, just outside Memphis. Yellow Creek Cove on the lake is a constant party for boaters in the summer and features a rope swing into the water below. There is a great camping spot at Pickwick Landing State Park, where there is also a marina and available boat rentals. Big Bear Lake Big Bear Lake in Southern California, the ‘Jewel of the San Bernardino National Forest,’ prides itself on being open all four seasons for water recreation. Located 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, it also can be accessed easily from Las Vegas or Phoenix. Big Bear offers a mountain atmosphere, with hiking trails, winter skiing, and summer swimming. The heart of Big Bear Lake is at Big Bear Village, a charming small town that serves as the region’s hub for dining and lodging. Make sure to check out the local festivals at The Village at Halloween and Christmas. Lake Tahoe © MariuszBlach / Getty Images Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe sits on the border of California and Nevada, near Reno. It is the second deepest lake in the United States (after Crater Lake) and is known for its incredibly clear water and vibrant colors. Tahoe is known as a gateway for recreational adventure. Visitors can access hundreds of miles of beautiful hiking trails, as well as rent paddleboards and kayaks to explore the lake. Lake Mead Lake Mead lies outside of Las Vegas, and is the largest reservoir in the United States, formed by the Hoover Dam. Boating in Lake Mead is a popular activity, with four separate marinas available to rent or store boats. Lake Mead Cruises also takes a nightly cruise to the Hoover Dam and back. Lake Mead is heaven for fishing and offers some of the best sport fishing in the United States. Lake Placid © Chuck Robinson Photography / Getty Images Lake Placid Lake Placid in the Adirondacks is a classic New York mountain town, with views so legendary the town was selected to host the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. In the winter, Lake Placid has amazing opportunities to snow ski and snowboard. In the summer, Lake Placid is a utopia for waterboarding and tubing. For those who own their own boat, there are several public launch points. For those on a budget, there are hostels off the lake for low rates or camping in nearby campgrounds or in the Adirondack backcountry. Lake Winnebago Lake Winnebago is a glacial lake in eastern Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee near Appleton and Oshkosh. It is a relatively shallow lake, known for great fishing in both the summer and the winter, with a prominent ice fishing industry. The lake’s most abundant fish are the Walleye, Perch, Sturgeon and Bass. Boats are readily available for rent at nearby Marinas. Boaters have access to more than 18,000 acres of water, including Lake Butte des Morts and the Fox River. Lake Winnepesaukee You can explore more than 250 different islands in New Hampshire’s Lake Winnepesaukee, or hike in the nearby White Mountains. There are a plethora of small villages on the shores of the lake, which can be reached by either boat or car, and each offers an individual flavor. Rent a boat and go waterboarding in the summer or plan a snowboarding adventure in the winter. When you’re ready to go indoors, check out one of the many breweries nearby, such as the Woodstock Inn Brewery in Woodstock. The nearest major city is Manchester. SPONSORED BY GEICOAs always, prior to travel, make sure you are up to date on your destination’s health and safety restrictions. See how much you could save when you bundle your car and boat insurance with GEICO. Carefully crafted collaboratively between GEICO, Lonely Planet and Budget Travel. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.Sponsored by GEICO
Travel 101: How to Raft the Grand Canyon
WHEN SHOULD I GO? Thanks to its desert location and dramatic changes in elevation, Grand Canyon National Park is a veritable climate roller coaster, with recorded temperatures spanning from winter lows of -22ºF to summer highs of 120ºF. Amazingly, these shifts have no impact on water temperature: Because the Colorado River is dam-released from the bottom of the country’s second-largest man-made reservoir, Lake Powell, waters remain at or near a brisk 46ºF, even during the blazing summers. While you’re welcome to raft year-round, keep in mind that each season offers a markedly different experience. May through September is the most crowded, when the summer sun offers a welcome respite from the chilling rapids. But consider the less crowded months of April and October, when you’ll practically have the river (and the limited campsites) all to yourself. Plus, spring and fall come with their own natural perks. April is peak wildflower season in the canyon, while October brings about the so-called “yellow” season, when golden plants all seem to miraculously blossom at the same time. You might say rafting the Colorado River is like Choose Your Own Adventure: It’s an infinitely customizable trip that you can cater to your skill level, stamina, and schedule. The easiest option is a half-day, “smooth water” raft trip with Colorado River Discovery (raftthecanyon.com, from $87 plus $6 river-use fee). You’ll start at the base of the 700-foot-tall Glen Canyon Dam, near the town of Page, Ariz., and encounter no rapids along the way. The most hardcore trips, which require expertise and months to years of planning, are the 12- to 25-day self-guided journeys, which take rafters from Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek—a whopping 225 miles. HOW EARLY SHOULD I START PLANNING? Your planning schedule will all depend on the length of your trip and whether or not it’s professionally guided. For quick day tours, you can book online, often at the last minute. But most other options require months to years of planning. For overnight self-guided trips, you’ll need a permit from the National Park Service. Only two raft groups can disembark each day, so you should have a date in mind and pounce on the slot when it becomes available a year in advance. Longer guided trips can be booked with one of the park’s approved tour outfitters, and many fill up two years early. Finally, if you’re hoping to set out on a large-scale, self-guided river trip (12 to 25 days), it’s all about luck: To receive a permit, you’ll need to enter a weighted lottery system (nps.gov/grca). Names are drawn and launch dates are assigned each February, but keep in mind that it can take years to have your name selected, so be open to other types of trips as a backup plan. WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER A PROFESSIONAL OUTFITTER? Unless you have experience with whitewater rafting, you’ll definitely want to use one of the National Park Service’s approved tour vendors. While the river may look peaceful from up above, it can actually be rather treacherous for amateurs. The most intense rapids—labeled either Class V on a standard river scale or size 10 on the Grand Canyon’s unique ranking system—can include enormous waves, steep drops, waterfalls, and extremely narrow passageways between dangerous cliffs. But it’s notjust safety that makes outfitters so great: They also, quite simply, make planning infinitely easier. Most tour companies will provide rafts and oars (as well as auxiliary watercraft, such as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards), helmets and life jackets, sleeping accommodations (such as sleeping bags, mattress pads, or tents), food, and, perhaps most importantly, bathroom accommodations. In addition, tour operators will shuttle guests down to the river, which can often be an adventure in its own right for travelers going it alone. WHAT ELSE WILL I DO ON THE TRIP? The river may be the focus of your rafting adventure, but it’s also a fantastic delivery device, connecting the canyon’s many diverse activities. During layover days and meal breaks, you might find yourself rock climbing, bird watching, swimming along the banks, cliff jumping, searching for hidden waterfalls and grottoes, or touring ancient Anasazi granaries and dwellings. Rafting offers a serious upper-body workout, so consider a hike to get your legs moving. By heading into one of the many narrow limestone slot canyons and going up in elevation, you’ll find a totally different view of the river—an outstanding perspective on how far you’ve traveled and how much river is still left to conquer. WHAT WILL I SEE ON THE JOURNEY? Bald eagles spend winters along the Colorado River, stocking up on trout.Bighorn sheep can be seen negotiating the steep cliffs leading down to the water.Eight species of bats live in the desert uplands, but feed on bugs right along the river.Arizona’s state mammal, the raccoon-like ringtail, is a nocturnal hunter, frequently seen scavenging around campsites.The rare California condor can often be glimpsed circling on thermal wind currents high overhead.WHAT SHOULD I PACK? L.L. Bean Neoprene Paddling Gloves: The Colorado River remains at or near a chilly 46°F, even in the summer. Neoprene gloves are a lifesaver, and these come with a Sharkskin grip so you won’t drop your paddle (llbean.com).Pelican iPhone Case: Professional photographers swear by Pelican’s heavy-duty camera cases, but you’ll love its water-resistant, crush-proof iPhone covers, which are O-ring sealed and include an attached carabiner (cabelas.com).Outdoor Research Bug Bivy: River banks can be notoriously buggy, so campers swear by this affordable sleeping sack that comes complete with a protective layer of mosquito netting (rei.com).
Epic Road Trip: Southern Utah & Northern Arizona
It's time to embark on an epic family road trip adventure through the rugged wilderness of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Whether you're planning to hit only a few of these places or want to cover the entire park circuit through Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Monument Valley, Arches, and Canyonlands, here's how to make the most of your trip without wasting a cent. Slow down and savor the beautiful scenic byways While your trusty GPS might say there are faster ways to get you from point A to point B, stick to Utah's Scenic Byways as you travel between the parks. State Route 12 takes you from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon on a beautiful 124-mile journey with awe-inspiring views at every turn. Give yourself at least three hours so you can stop for photo ops along the way. Step into your favorite movies in the places they were filmed There's a reason why some of this scenery looks so familiar. It's been the background in plenty of films, from John Wayne classics like Stagecoach (filmed in the Monument Valley area) to Thelma & Louise, (filmed in Arches National Park; the final scene was really filmed in Dead Horse State Point State Park, not the Grand Canyon—who knew?) Die-hard Forrest Gump fans can also be seen pulling over at Mile Marker 13 on Highway 163, outside Monument Valley, for a chance to take the perfect photo in the spot where, one day, Forrest just stopped running. Get to know lesser-known national parks like Capitol Reef Often overshadowed by Zion and Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park is definitely worth visiting: Admission is only $5 per vehicle, and you'll have access to unspoiled views of red rock country and a chance to explore the area's rich pioneer history. Infamous outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid even used parts of the park as a hideout! Stop by Rim Rock Restaurant for a gorgeous vantage point of the red rock as you dine, and stay around the corner at Broken Spur Inn (Rim Rock Restaurant, 2523 E. Highway 24 in Torrey, therimrock.net; Broken Spur Inn, rooms from $99 per night, 955, E. SR-24, brokenspurinn.com.) Don't miss Page, Arizona, on your way to or from Monument Valley Spend some time on the shores of Lake Powell, part of Arizona's scenic Glen Canyon Recreation Area ($15 per vehicle for a weekly pass), or rent a kayak at Lake Powell Resort to see the area from the water (kayak rentals from $45 per day, 100 Lakeshore Drive, lakepowell.com). Stop by Horseshoe Bend just south of Page on Highway 89 (free). Don't be intimidated by the three-quarters-of-a-mile hike through desert sands to reach the scenic overlook point. (Author's note: If I can do it, you can do it, and that amazing view from the top of the ridge was totally worth it!) Immerse yourself in Native American culture and history in Monument Valley Stay at Goulding's Lodge, a remote but charming outpost minutes from Monument Valley that's home to Goulding's Trading Post Museum. View photos and artifacts from the Old West; learn about the area's Native American tribes; check out John Wayne's Cabin, where She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was filmed; and catch classic western flicks at the Earth Spirit Theater. Goulding's also offers several guided trips into Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, including its three-and-a-half hour deluxe tour, which gives you a close-up look at scenic rock formations like the Mittens, the Three Sisters, and North Window, and the chance to explore parts of the park that are off-limits to the general public (tour from $70 per person, rooms from $89 per night November through April, from $211 per night May through October, gouldings.com). Explore Bryce Canyon on horseback Embrace your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) and get a different view of the park from the back of your trusty steed. Bryce Canyon Rides takes you on a two-hour guided tour from Bryce Canyon Lodge down to the canyon floor, past scenic spots like the Wall of Windows and the Chessmen. Bring plenty of water, and whatever you do, don't forget your camera! (from $60 per person for a two-hour trip, from $80 per person for a half-day guided tour, canyonrides.com; admission to the park includes unlimited use of park shuttles and is valid for seven days, $25 per vehicle or $12 per person entering on foot, nps.gov/brca). C'mon and take a free ride at Zion and Bryce Canyon While you can bring your car to Bryce Canyon National Park, we recommend staying at Ruby's Inn (rooms from $149 per night, 25 S. Main St., rubysinn.com), leaving your car there, and hopping on the free Bryce Canyon Shuttle to avoid spending your precious time in the park worrying about traffic. Parking at Zion National Park, meanwhile, is limited to a frequently overcrowded parking lot near the entrance, and after a certain point, no cars are allowed and you must take free shuttles to see the rest. Leave the car at your hotel—we love the Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park (rooms from $197 per night, 1127 Zion Park Blvd, hamptoninn.com)—and take the Springdale Shuttle to Zion, where you can catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle inside the park (admission to the park includes unlimited use of park shuttles and is valid for seven days, $25 per vehicle or $12 per person entering on foot, nps.gov/zion). Treat yourself to dinner and a show For the Moab portion of your trip, spend your days exploring nearby Arches and Canyonlands national parks (admission to the parks is valid for seven days, $10 per vehicle or $5 per person entering on foot for each park). Don't miss the Moab Adventure Center's Dinner and Night Show: You'll start with an hour-long Dutch oven cowboy-style dinner, then board a jet boat for a two-hour journey up and down the Colorado River. Watch as the canyon walls are lit up by 40,000 watts of light and hear stories of how the are came to be settled by Native Americans and later, cowboys ($69 for adults, $59 for children ages 12 and under, 1861 N. Highway 191, moabadventurecenter.com). Back in Moab, stay at Kokopelli Lodge, a funky, retro-style motel a few blocks from Moab's walkable downtown along Highway 191 (From $79 per night, 72 S. 100 East, kokopellilodge.com). Surround yourself with culture and history in Salt Lake City Use Salt Lake City as a base for your first or last night and spend a day at the Natural History Museum of Utah, one of 13 attractions covered by the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass ($29 for adults, $24 for children 12 and under, $23 for seniors over 65 for a one-day pass; two-day, three-day, and annual passes are also available). If you're working on a family tree, stop by the Family History Library for access to millions of records and complimentary help with your research. Stay at Hotel Monaco, a swanky Kimpton hotel with family-sized rooms from $159 per night (15 W. 200 South, Monaco-saltlakecity.com) and stop by Eva's Bakery for a delightful French café breakfast (155 S. Main St., evasbakeryslc.com). Don't forget to pack: Sunscreen: apply an ounce (about a shot glass) of SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen every two hours while you're exposed to the sun. Sun-protective clothing: Wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective shirt and pants. (Hold them up to the light; if you can see the sun through your shirt, it's not protecting your skin from damaging UV rays). Water: The National Park Service recommends that you bring one gallon of water per person per day. Sure, it sounds like a lot, but you'll be glad you did. Layers: While the dry heat of midday in Utah can be challenging, don't forget that evening temperatures drop quickly, especially at altitude. Be sure to bring sweaters and jackets. Hiking shoes: Leave the sandals and flip-flops in your hotel room! When exploring any national park or other wild place, it's best to wear durable socks and closed-toe shoes with sturdy support and water-resistance. Take advantage of free weekends at all national parks Aug. 25, National Park Service Birthday Sept. 26, Public Lands Day Nov. 11, Veterans Day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Presidents' Day Weekend Opening weekend of National Park Week in April
National Parks Closed? Try These State Parks and Local Attractions Instead
In these bizarre times, it's best to keep an open mind, especially when the government suddenly throws a wrench in your national park vacation plans. As Budget Travel's Digital Editor, I've been keeping track of how the recent shutdown has affected the travel industry—and it isn't pretty. For starters, more than 800,000 "non-essential" government workers are temporarily out of a job and most, if not all, of the country's National Parks and Monuments have been closed. You're not even allowed to stop on roads that happen to go through National Parks to take a photo. Camping enthusiasts around the country were given a 48-hour grace period to vacate the parks, while others who held reservations for National Park lodges were technically allowed to stay, though not permitted to hike or otherwise enjoy themselves while inside the park. I recently tried to get ahold of my usual media connection for the TSA to see if the shutdown reached as far as the airline industry, but alas, my email to him was returned, as he had, as it turns out, been furloughed as well. Still, for those seeking take a trip anytime in the forseeable future, all is not lost. In the coming days, prepare to be flexible with your travel plans and check in with the state or county tourism office, local outfitters, and guide services for updates and insider tips on what's currently open and available in the area you wish to visit. Has the shutdown shut down your National Park vacation? Try these alternative State Parks and nearby local attractions instead: UTAHRather than mourning the closure of popular parks like Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion, the Utah Office of Tourism has come up with a list of 50 Awesome Alternatives to Utah's National Parks, a lineup of State Parks and other points of natural beauty and historical significance that are also worth a visit. All Navajo Nation Tribal Parks are currently open as well, including Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Four Corners Monument, Bowl Canyon Recreation Area, and Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park. Among the many alternatives for visiting Arches and Canyonlands are Dead Horse Point State Park, Edge of the Cedars State Park, Goblin Valley State Park (pictured above), Goosenecks State Park, while those for Capitol Reef include Anasazi State Park, Horseshoe Canyon, and Otter Creek State Park. Alternatives for visiting Bryce Canyon include Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Red Canyon, while alternatives to Zion include Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Gunlock State Park, Quail Creek State Park, Sand Hallow State Park, and Snow Canyon State Park. Please click on the links above for a full list of alternative parks, monuments, and scenic byways; visit this website for updates on park closures. SOUTH DAKOTABadlands National Park and Mount Rushmore are both closed at the moment, but that doesn't mean your trip to this part of the country is ruined. Custer State Park is located just an hour's drive south of Mount Rushmore and is one of those places where reaching it is half the fun—there are plenty of twisting mountain roads, gorgeous views, and incredible wildlife encounters to keep you on your toes, and very few places on earth where you can actually get stuck in traffic because a herd of buffalo decided to cross the road, so keep those cameras handy! Once inside the park, opt to spend the night camping in the South Dakota wilderness or visit one of the Custer State Park Resorts—I stayed at The Game State Lodge, a beautiful historic property that once served as the "Summer White House" for President Coolidge in 1927 and was later visited by President Eisenhower in 1953. The best part: it's the launching point for Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours, a spectacularly intimate way to get up close and personal with the park's diverse wildlife—we drove right up to a grazing herd of bison, past fields of noisy prairie dogs, and ended the night with a traditional chuck wagon cookout. Admission to Custer State Park costs $4 per person per day, or pay $15 per vehicle for up to seven days. Children ages 11 and under get in free. Rooms at The Game State Lodge start at $115 a night. Adults pay $82 each—children ages 12 and under pay $62—for the Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour plus Chuck Wagon Cookout. Prices for just the Jeep Safari are $43 for adults, $36 for kids 12 and under. Prices for just the Chuck Wagon Cookout are $47 for adults and $37 for kids 12 and under. Rather than harp on how you won't be able to get a close up shot of Mount Rushmore, visit nearby Crazy Horse Memorial, soon to the be the world's largest mountain carving, and located about a 30-minute drive southwest of Mount Rushmore, just 10 minutes outside of Custer. Luckily for visitors, Crazy Horse Memorial is privately funded, meaning no matter how bad things get in D.C., it will still stay open. Don't leave without trying the Tatanka Stew at The Laughing Water Restaurant (it's delicious!). Visit the museum to learn more about one of the Sioux's most famous leaders and to view Native American artifacts from around the area. You can even take a $4 bus ride to the foot of the mountain for a closer look at the stone carving, still a privately-run work in progress, or you can make a personal donation of $125 or more per person and get an escorted trip to the top of the mountain carving to meet the famous warrior face to face. Admission is free for Native Americans, military personnel with a valid I.D., uniformed Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and residents of Custer County, SD. General admission is $10 per adult or $27 per car; those on motorcycles are charged $5 per rider. NEW MEXICOWhile all 13 National Park Service units in New Mexico—including Carlsbad, Gila, White Sands, Chaco and Bandelier, among others—are currently closed, the bright spot is you can still visit portions of Petroglyph National Monument since the Boca Negra Canyon and Piedras Marcadas Canyon sections are technically owned by the City of Albuquerque. Another good thing about New Mexico: there are several opportunities to explore Pueblo culture on tribal lands. A great day trip from Albuquerque is the Sky City Cultural Center at the Acoma Pueblo, located 60 miles west of the city center, where tours are given daily and you'll get a chance to meet the locals of the longest-inhabited city in the U.S. If you prefer to stay closer to town, take a ride on the scenic Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway for some of the best views in New Mexico, and stop by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for a taste of Albuquerque's unique history and culture. Admission to the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway costs $20 for adults and $17 for seniors over age 62, active military with a valid I.D., and teens ages 13-20; children under age 5 get in free and those between 5-12 pay $12. Admission to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is $6 for adults over 18, $5.50 for seniors over age 62, $4 for residents of New Mexico, and $3 for students with a valid I.D. and for children ages 5-17; children under 5 get in free. HAWAIIVisiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is a major bucket list item, and unfortuntely, it's not possible as long as the Congressional craziness continues, however, you can still visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial next door. You'll be able to experience a special complimentary pier-side interpretation of what happened the morning of December 7th, 1941, from the 1,000-foot long pier located a few hundred feet from the closed USS Arizona Memorial. You also have the option to pay admission for access to and tours of the Battleship itself. On nearby Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum gives visitors a look at the way the are was impacted by the attack on Pearl Harbor—you can still see bullet holes in the outer walls of some of Ford Island's buildings if you look closely enough. General admission to the Battleship Missouri Memorial is $22 for adults and $11 for children ages 4-12. Military personnel and Hawaiian residents can obtain special discounts with a valid I.D. Admission to the Pacific Aviation Museum is $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 4-12.
"What exactly is that down there?"
Ever look out an airplane window and see an extraordinary landscape? Well, here's a guide to what you probably saw. Astonishing aerial images taken from commercial and NASA-operated aircraft form the heart of the new book, America from the Air: A Guide to Landscape Along Your Route. When seen from the air, Lake Powell, Boston Harbor, the Caprock Escarpment in Texas, and other sights may inspire you to hum "Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies." In a clever move, the book provides maps of 15 popular flight corridors, making it easy for you to find aerial photographs that correspond to about 40 popular routes you are likely to fly. Authors Daniel Mathews and James S. Jackson have helpfully annotated each image with captions that identify important features of the landscape. We've put together a slide show of 10 images from the book to give you a taste. Enjoy. —Liz Webber MORE ON THE WEB A pilot is blogging photos and stories from his travels, including photographs of the aurora borealis ("northern lights") and unique cloud formations as seen from 35,000 feet. The blog is Flight Level 390.
18 Great Places to Go Camping
When it comes to getting up close and personal with nature, Budget Travel editors know the spots where you'll find elbow room, nightly lodging for under $30, and North America's most beautiful flora and fauna. This morning, Budget Travel's President and Publisher Elaine Alimonti appeared on the Weather Channel's AMHQ with Sam Champion to share these best-ever campsite recommendations. Here, some off-the-radar faves, surprising East Coast campsites, family-friendly outdoor spots, and places that are perfect for the adventurous camper. SEE 27 CAMPING LOCATIONS BUDGET TRAVEL READERS LOVE TOP 3 OFF-THE-RADAR CAMPING LOCATIONS: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia. Take one look at Blackwater Falls and you'll see why it's one of the most photographed places in West Virginia: Five stories of amber-colored water gets its signature hue from the hemlock and red spruce needles of the forest. You'll find 20 miles of hiking trails, trout fishing, and if you need a dose of civilization, the park is also home to a lodge and an excellent restaurant. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. If you think they go big in Vegas, head an hour northeast to Nevada's biggest state park, which boasts its own show: Stunning, 150-million-year-old sandstone formations that give the park its name; and 3,000-year-old petroglyphs carved into the rock by the region's original inhabitants. When it comes to getting away from it all, well, Valley of Fire has stood in for Mars in Hollywood movies. Ruckle Park on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. The Gulf Islands in British Columbia are some of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest, just north of the border with Washington State. Ruckle Park offers miles of shoreline, towering headlands, and gorgeous coves and bays where you can camp with a spectacular view right outside your tent. The terrain is a perfect blend of forest, grassy fields, and shore, where you can hike or cycle the miles of trailhead, or kayak along the beach. (Keep an eye out for sea lions, killer whales, and adorable otters.) TOP 5 EAST COAST CAMPING LOCATIONS: Mount Desert Island, Maine. Pitch your tent where the mountains meet the sea in coastal Maine, this island is also home to beautiful Acadia National Park. Salisbury Beach State Park, Massachusetts. Yes, a public beach on the Massachusetts coast where you can camp and enjoy the legendary surf and sand. Eagle Point, New York. On the western shore of upstate New York's Schroon Lake, this is that rare East Coast getaway that makes you feel like you're in the wilderness, but still close to great food and amenities. Hershey Park Camping Resort. Some people consider this America's finest campsite for convenience and fun. Its proximity to chocolate (at Hershey Park) may be a factor. Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina. Add some art to your camping adventure here, with the spectacular Brookgreen Gardens sculpture collection nearby, and cast a line at one of the Southeast's finest surf-fishing beaches. TOP 5 FAMILY OUTDOOR SPOTS: Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida. A perfect stretch of beach, tidal marsh, and opportunities for cycling, hiking, and canoeing make this an all-in-one camping spot. First Landing State Park, Virginia. Add a little history to your Virginia Beach getaway here, where European colonists first landed in Virginia. Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford, Nebraska. Kids will love the old west history, buffalo, and longhorns here, not to mention thousands of acres of parkland to explore. Glacier National Park, Montana. Meet mountain goats up close (but stay a few feet away from those horns) at the Continental Divide, and ogle sky-high mountains that contain some of the lower 48's only remaining ice age glaciers. Mount Hood Village, Oregon. Camp in the shadow of gorgeous Mount Hood and explore Oregon's rich forests and tasty food scene at one of the West Coast's finest campsites. TOP 5 ADVENTURE DESTINATIONS: Mount Washington State Park, New Hampshire. Climbing Mount Washington is near the top of many adventurers' bucket lists. Dress for all four seasons and bring water - the weather changes dramatically, which is all part of the fun if you're prepared. Everglades National Park, Florida. Amazing opportunities for drive-in camping or backcountry for the truly adventurous. A great way to explore the waterways and wildlife of this iconic park without breaking the bank. Big Bend National Park, Texas. A hidden gem on the Texas-Mexico border, we love the beautiful canyons and spectacular vistas this lesser-known park offers. Lake Powell, Arizona. The seemingly endless shoreline of Lake Powell is no secret to Westerners, and presents opportunities to take on just about any watersport challenge. Pfeiffer State Park, California. Hiking trails through the forest and purple-hued sand on the beach make this a magnet on the Central Coast, but many people don't know you can book a yurt (essentially a big, fancy tent) for a "glamping" experience like no other in the U.S.
More Places to go
Page is a city in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, near the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 7,247.
Bryce Canyon Country is the nickname for Garfield County, Utah. As the main tourist attraction in the county, Bryce Canyon National Park is what most people come to this area to experience.
Kane County is a county in the U.S. state of Utah. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 7,125. Its county seat and largest city is Kanab.
Grand Canyon National Park (East entrance)
Located in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. The park is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon; a mile (1.6 km) deep, and up to 18 miles (29 km) wide. Layered bands of colorful rock reveal millions of years of geologic history. Grand Canyon is unmatched in the vistas it offers visitors from the rim. Open 24 hours.