Discussing our really good Summer 2014 with some friends recently, we could not limit our favorites places & visits to just the top three.
In no particular order, we chose our ‘dirty dozen’ favorites and share those here.
Big Bend – a puzzling National Park. One of the least visited and spectacular. Limited amenities and great scenery. A confusing & confounding place.
Yellowstone National Park – one of my favorite places on earth. With every turn in the road, something new to discover. The New York City of US Parks. Crowded, captivating.
Yellowstone is greatness spread over 7M acres.
Zion National Park – the best of the great Utah National Parks. Maybe. Until we return to Arches, or Bryce. Lovely, dramatic views and climbs that cannot be matched. The recent bus service (mandatory in summer) makes the park a better place – and Springdale is a great little town right outside the park, a result of town & government partnership. Nicely done.
Ape Canyon & Lava Canyon – Ranger recommended. A small exploration in Washington State, south of Mount Saint Helens. Two routes at this popular little hike – either a level fairly easy 3/4 miles or a 1.25 mile one scramble up an 8′ wall, a “meatball” rock and other rock climbs. Fun!
Mono Lake – a place I have wanted to visited for 20+ years. As spectacular as imagined – and a place I want to revisit as soon as possible. A photographer’s delight. Lots of hiking trails to explore – and surrounded by great vistas as you travel down Route 395 – which winds through Oregon, Nevada & California and brings your through this lovely area of the US.
Milo McIver State Park – our home for two months while leading kayak tours, bat hikes, Junior Ranger programs. A little known state park –about to grow with some upcoming changes to the park. Visit while you can!
Fort Stevens – what can be said about the largest State Park (campsite-wise) West of the Mississippi? Lots to explore, lots to discover. Great Bike trails, old Army Batteries, Mushroom hunting. Love this Park! We were surrounded by 500+ campers who loved it as much as we do. People poise over there computers 11 months out to ensure they can stay at this park. We learned about Fort Stevens while hosting at an Oregon State Park on the Columbia River. It seemed that everyone staying at that park was on their way to or from Fort Stevens – and enjoyed it immensely.
Lava Beds National Monument – another great National Monument for exploration. Out of the way in Northern California with great caves to explore + Native American Pictographs to view.
Lava Beds is a little visited and quiet park with lots to view, including US Army and Native American battle sites.
Wine Tasting in Washington & Oregon. Sigh. Some new additions to the wine fridge. We included a visit to the great State of Washington and the Walla Walla and Tri Cities wine areas; enjoyed all and especially Red Mountain.
Part of the greatness of Washington Wineries was the very reasonable tasting prices ($5.00!!!!). This kept us visiting Washington and, or course, Oregon and away from Napa Valley – whose tasting prices climb all the time and continue to rise.
Oregon Exploration – Oregon is a State that continues to amaze. Lots of places to discover. We explored the Central Coast for the first time and saw some of the great owned-by-the-public beaches. So different from the East Coast – so refreshingly different from Jersey where you have to pay to park, step on the beach or get shut out altogether. Thanks Oregon legislators & Tom McCall.
Las Vegas – loved visiting this great, crazy town. We stayed at a great, great RV resort, where, ironically, former B-I-L Dan knew one of the managers yet he was visiting the property for the first time. Alene & Dan & Danny toured us through Freemont Street with its great old neon, fully restored, operational and shining bright.
Finally, meeting great people. Rangers, Volunteers, Guests. Many folks added great fun & knowledge to our 2014 experience and we thank them all!