Raise a glass! Friday 3rd August is International Beer Day, and who are we to argue with such an important event?
Without a doubt the Yellowstone Wildlife Walks tour has one of the best itineraries of any Grand American Adventures tours. With three nights in the towering peaks and rugged wilderness of Glacier National Park, two nights in Jackson Hole Wyoming, allowing ample time to wander the breathtaking scenery of Grand Tetons National Park. Bear, elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goat and a seemingly endless variety of birds are plentiful.
But it is Yellowstone this tour is named after and you're given four days to explore the 2.2 million acres of wilderness; bison become an ordinary sight in the vast meadows, elk walk beside humans in the historic Mammoth village, and as we experienced recently, sometimes the grizzlies and black bears seem to go on parade and offer once in a lifetime experiences seeing these awesome predators.
By all accounts, Yellowstone National Park is an amazing place. It is one of the three “crown jewels” of our national park system, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has half of all the world’s thermal features, over 10,000 in all, within its borders. Add to that North America’s highest concentration of large mammals, and we were all very excited for our visit.
When you think of taking a holiday to the USA your mind probably wanders to the clear blue waters of Florida or the incredible national parks on the West Coast, and we don't blame you, they make for an amazing adventure. But, have you ever thought about a road trip through America's second largest state, Texas?
Monument Valley is a stop most of our tours make between Grand Canyon National Park and the adventure sport capital of America, Moab UT. Its iconic sandstone mesas, buttes and panicles have provided the setting for countless western movies over the past 75 years. The North and South Mittens are possibly the most recognizable rock formations in the whole of the United States. But the greatest treasure here, in my opinion is not the scenic beauty, which is amazing and breathtaking, but rather the people and the culture of the Navajo Tribe, who call Monument Valley home.
New Orleans – aka “NOLA”, aka “The Big Easy” – seems different to the rest of America. You could almost not be in the USA. There’s a languid, tropical feeling in the air as soon as you land – on my visit the effect being enhanced by touching down in the middle of a monsoon.
Hidden away in the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite places to visit during the busy summer months. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is a man made lake, which fills the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The O’Shaughnessy Dam constructed between 1915 and 1922 block the Tuolumne River creating a source of drinking water via canals and aqueducts for the entire San Francisco Bay area. It also provides a passage from the parking area at Hetch Hetchy to one of the most easily accessible, yet pristine and quiet spots in the entirety of Yosemite.
Our day starts at the Grand Canyon North Rim. We’ve been staying at the lodge, enjoying the spectacular view, 5 star dining, and peace and quiet for two nights; tonight we will be staying in the heart of the Zion Canyon. As if these two parks, one in morning, and one at night weren't enough, today I have decided to stretch our day to capacity and include Bryce Canyon National Park.
Olympic National Park is full of natural beauty, and a variety of ecosystems so close to each other that in a single day you can travel to a beach, a rainforest and a glacier, and still be back to camp in time for dinner. A national park that is often overlooked, Olympic is a difficult stop for a leader like myself, not because there is a lack of things to do, but rather a lengthy list of sites not to be missed, and fitting it all in is nearly impossible in a couple of days. As the leader of the tour it is my job to plan the days out to give the best experience in the park with our limited time. In parks like Olympic, it is usually my favorite spots that make it to the top of this “to do” list.
Our journey to walk on the Appalachian Trail started with a stop in beautiful Baxter State Park in upstate Maine. Baxter State Park is unique for many reasons. Former Maine Governor Percival Baxter donated the land and created this park as part of his lifelong mission to preserve wilderness areas forever for the people of Maine. Because of his wishes, the park remains isolated and undeveloped with only dirt roads and minimal facilities within its boundaries. Today, this leaves us with a beautiful, quiet, unspoiled landscape to spend our day.