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.
When most people book a Grand American Adventures tour, they are looking to leave behind the grind of their everyday lives, and escape to the wild National Parks of North America.
Growing up in rural Maine, I was very spoiled with some of my experiences with nature as a child. One of those was enjoying the stars of the night sky. On a cool autumn night I could walk outside and have perfect views of the entire Milky Way, and more stars and constellations than I could ever identify. It wasn’t until moving to Los Angeles that I realized I would miss the stars when deprived of their nightly arrival overhead. The light pollution of the sprawling city stole that nightly treat I had taken for granted, and I immediately learned to appreciate them again once returning to the dark skies of the wild.
Our day in Cape Breton Highlands National Park began with an amazing drive along the spectacularly scenic Cabot Trail Highway. Named after early explorer John Cabot, this road twists and turns its way along beautiful coastal cliffs and through gorgeous mountain scenery. Even as someone who drives every day, it would be hard not to get excited by this beautiful drive.
Memphis sits high up on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River. Historically it has always played an important role in trade on the river and that continues today, although tourism now plays a big role as well. Home to musical greats like WC Handy, BB King and Elvis Presley, there is also plenty of music in the air.
Nashville! Music City. Hillbilly Hollywood. When a kid has a country music dream, they will inevitably make their way to this Mecca of country music. Thankfully for us, our dream was only to hear great country music, and that was a dream which came true several times over during our stay.
On most of my lodging tours I try to include an evening getting away from restaurants, and have a real American BBQ somewhere beautiful. There is a perfect opportunity at Dead Horse Point State Park to do just that.
At 35km long and 19km wide, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the United States. It is also our second deepest lake at right around 500 meters deep. It contains enough water to provide every man, woman and child in the country with 200 liters of water a day, every day, for 5 years! That’s a lot of water.
Originally inhabited by the Washoe people, it was rediscovered by legendary western scout and mountain man Kit Carson in 1844. When the Comstock Lode of silver was discovered in nearby Virginia City, people came in droves to the area. Thankfully some of these early settlers saw the beauty of the lake and its tourism potential and set out to preserve it. Today, the environmental group Keep Tahoe Blue keeps up this vigilant watch.
Jackson, Wyoming is a beautiful old west town located at the base of the Grand Teton mountain range. World renowned for its natural beauty, Jackson is also the base for dozens of interesting and exciting excursions. With so much to choose from, we had to get a jump on the day to make the most of our time there.
I remember vividly looking at various magazine advertisements for outdoor gear as a kid. You know, the picture of the perfect couple – standing on the edge of a cliff in awe of the scenery that appears just too perfect to be real? Their bodies erected tall, each with one leg bent, chins up and hiking poles held at a perfect angle. To this you can add their hair which usually flowed gently into the wind as they stood so proudly into the foreground of a spotless sky – a view that could inspire entire generations to boycott western civilization as if it were obsolete.