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Finding Love on the Road—Moab Style

When I quit my corporate job to pursue a life on the road, I knew that I might fall in love. Photos of majestic California Redwoods, jagged mountain ranges, and rolling green hills had prepared me to have my heart stolen by the landscape.

But I never expected to find my life partner in the middle of the Utah desert.

nicole bonilla in arches national parkIt was the Monday before Memorial Day in 2018, and I had just scored a last-minute campsite in Arches National Park for that Friday. I was 8 months into a solo cross-country road trip, and Utah was my 34th state. By that point, I had learned that little-to-moderate research was my travel style.

So when I pulled into Moab, I had no idea that I’d stumbled into the outdoor-recreation hub of Southern Utah.

This laissez-faire attitude was a relatively new development for me. While working in Austin, Texas, before taking to the road, I lived for knowing all the details. I was the type of person who would read at least 20 reviews for a restaurant before settling on a place to have dinner.

Now here I was in a completely foreign town, a whole week to spare with no plans, and I was excited about it.

A trip to the visitor center and an email later, I was set to go on an off-road excursion with a local father-son tour operator the following day. A larger group was already scheduled to go out, and I would be tagging along.

On Tuesday morning, I showed up to the pickup zone five minutes late to find a gaggle of septuagenarians waiting for me in the tour vehicle. Aside from our guide who looked to be around my age, there was at least a 45 year age difference between me and everyone else in the truck.

As the last to show up, I sat in the back row behind my seven new compatriots.Unimog tour vehicleThe excursion began with the ascent of one of the scariest 4×4 trails of the trip, aptly called Hell’s Revenge. As we began the treacherous climb, I giggled uncontrollably.

I was having a blast.

The only minor drawback was the bobbing of heads in front of me; I wanted a better view. So at our first rest stop, I worked up the nerve to ask our guide, Jamie, if I could sit up front with him. He agreed.

That’s when I actually started to notice him. Jamie was funny, capable, and his reflective sun- glasses lended an appealing air of mystery.

Throughout the rest of the tour, I found myself strategizing how best to communicate my inter- est. I was much too shy to ask him out, so ultimately settled on giving him the opportunity to ask me out.finding love on the roadHere was my master plan: I’d ask him for lunch recommendations. If he asked to join me, it was a date. (I found out later that literally everyone asks him this question after a tour, so it wasn’t much of a hint).

Little did I know that Jamie had also taken an interest in me, and had an idea of his own: “if she gives me a tip, that means she wasn’t interested,” he thought to himself. (He hadn’t considered that I’m not a cheapskate, and had planned to tip him regardless.)

The tour ended and I let everyone else pay first. When it was my turn, I enacted my genius plot.

“So, any place you’d recommend for lunch around here?” I asked as he ran my card. He rattled off a couple of suggestions and handed my card back. I paused to give him an opening.

Nothing.

I gave him a tip and we said our goodbyes, each having failed the other’s test. He drove out of the parking lot, and I settled into my vehicle.

That’s when I saw him walking back toward me, and lowered my window. “I’d regret if I didn’t ask,” he said. “Do you want to go to lunch with me?”

Since then, we’ve been on countless adventures together: road tripping to Wyoming, hiking in Yosemite, backpacking Havasupai in the Grand Canyon, and more. Our two-year anniversary is coming up, and after being long-distance nearly the entirety of our relationship, we are finally looking forward to settling down in the same place together.jamie in MoabJamie and I would not have met but for our mutual love of adventure and travel, and our success as a couple comes from prioritizing these things in our relationship.

I think about that road trip often, and how I found more love than I ever could have expected. For those of you considering a solo adventure of your own, I say get out there and explore.

It just might change your life




Armchair Adventures: Virtual travel itinerary

For travelers, the call to adventure can be difficult to resist. We appreciate that you’re not globetrotting or even just hitting the road for a little outdoor adventure at this time. To feed your need for beautiful scenery, wide-open spaces, and movement, we have compiled some of our favorite outdoor rec-liner activities. Join us for some armchair adventures until you can get there IRL.

The great thing about being an armchair adventurer is that you can see a lot—like six states—in one day! However, we designed this expedition on a logical route so you can follow the itinerary when it’s time to resume real travel.

Dinosaurland, Utah

Virtual tours pin

We’ll kickstart your imagination in Fantasy Canyon, located in Dinosaurland. A short drive from Vernal, Utah, you can explore this geological work of art from your couch today.

Now that your imagination is warmed up, choose between a hike, mountain biking, or rafting in Dinosaurland. Better yet, try it all!

Moab, Utah

Your next stop won’t be any surprise for an armchair adventurer: Moab. The 360-degree tours will take you from scenic overlooks to rock climbing to zip lining. Spend some time here in Moab, checking out all that you can do while safe at home. Don’t forget to hydrate!

Moab 360 virtual tour

Tucson, Arizona

Next, point your screen south to Tucson, Arizona. Trade in your puffy vest and leggings for jeans and cowboy boots. You’ll “stay” at the White Stallion Ranch, an all-inclusive ranch with beautiful rooms, an assortment of activities starting with horseback riding. Take a moment to settle into the beauty, explore a bit on your trusty steed, then learn some new cowboy skills.

 

Yosemite/Madera County, California

Your first virtual stop en route to Yosemite National Park will be in Madera County. Bass Lake is a peaceful place to gain some Zen before your adrenaline rush. Start by exploring the town and marina, then dive into wakeboarding via 360-degree video.

Play like a local while staying local, for the sake of this community and yours.

Yosemite is a bucket-list experience, and it should stay on your list. But right now, you can virtually check it off. Enjoy these 360-degree videos that take you to Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake, Yosemite Falls, Swinging Bridge, Hecht Hetchy, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point, Chilnualna Falls, Tunnel View, and much more:

South Lake Tahoe, California

Tahoe South has an all-inclusive virtual visit planned for you as soon as you arrive! They know you want to visit, and they appreciate that you’re giving it some time and protecting the community right now. So they compiled a virtual itinerary for your viewing pleasure. Head over to tahoesouth.com for a virtual visit complete with skiing, roller coasters and boating, ending with a beautiful sunset.

Shasta Cascade, California

After all that thrill, it’s time to slow down and take a mellow scroll through some beautiful flora. So cruise up north to Redding, California and the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. You can explore over 200 acres, taking in the views and admiring the water features. Who says adventure can’t have a little bit of R&R?

Willamette Valley, Oregon

We recommend continuing your garden tour north from here. See how plantlife and views change between Redding, California and Silverton, Oregon. The Oregon Garden is one of our stops that can be enjoyed with your VR headset or other devices. Launch the virtual reality experience or select 360-degree photos to discover all the sections of this stunning destination.

The Oregon Garden virtual tour and 360-degree photos

 

So far, you’ve gone hiking, rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip lining, horseback riding, wakeboarding, skiing, roller-coaster riding, boating, garden strolling, and covering a big part of the U.S. It’s time to treat yourself with some yoga and a beverage. Fortunately, that’s just a click away, though it may be time to put the ice cream and sweatpants away for a while. Join the Yoga + Beer community on Facebook and stretch out all those road trip daydream miles via livestream yoga classes.

Livestream yoga classes

 

Lovell, Wyoming

At this point, you might be a little tired of all the adrenaline and human-powered fun, so it’s time to board the a charter boat and let someone else show you around. Devil’s Canyon, in Wyoming’s Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, is the third largest canyon in the U.S. Enjoy views with Hidden Treasure Charters. Settle into these views as icing on top of your remarkable armchair adventure so far.

Pssst: A little patience will be rewarded with a special wildlife sighting.

Wind River Country

Your last outdoor recreation/recliner stop will be just a little south of Lovell. Wyoming’s Wind River Country has made it easy to get a taste of their state parks experience. Check out three parks via 360-degree Google tours: one named for a disappearing river, one for a reservoir juxtaposed against mountain desert, and one for a gold-rush town gone bust. Start exploring here, but watch out for dinosaurs!

Virtual State Park tours in Wyoming

When the time is right, plan to visit places like this in-person. You can find more about most of these destinations right here on visitusaparks.com!




Top Snow Dog Sled Tours in the U.S.

Although Alaska normally is the first place people think of in reference to snow dog sled tours, there are so many other snowy locations that offer unforgettable sledding experiences! It helps that these locations are a bit closer to home, too. Ranging from California to Minnesota, here are five places you can dog sled to your heart’s content.

Vail Valley, Colorado

Want a scenic trail that is unpopulated by snowmobiles? Vail Valley boasts beautiful aspen forests and a variety of wildlife. As you sled through, take the time to appreciate the glades and the snowy, rolling meadows. A thrilling ride through a winter wonderland sounds like a perfect spring break adventure.

 

snow dog sled tours

Photo courtesy of brentbinghamphotography.com

Big Sky, Montana

This is just one option out of many in Montana. Planning on spending a week in this beautiful state? Start your snow dog sled ride in Big Sky, then head toward Yellowstone or Glacier for some different terrain and wilderness trails. After spending the day outdoors, head back into town to grab a bite to eat. Who knows what the next day will bring? From sledding to skiing, Big Sky has it all. Get outside and start exploring!

 

Photo courtesy of pxhere.com

Ely, Minnesota

According to the Ely Chamber of Commerce, Ely has more dog sled providers than anywhere else in the world and is the unofficial capital of dog sledding. Spend a day or so sledding through Superior National Forest, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Northern lights! Already visited Ely? Here are a few other spots in Minnesota to go dog sledding.

 

snow dog sled tours

Photo courtesy of theculturetrip.com

Olympic Forest, California

Bet you didn’t think the state of summer and palm trees would be on this list! However, in the Olympic Forest, snow dog sledding is quite popular. If you’re looking to experience the spectacular forests and meadows of the Sierra Nevada region, then be sure to visit this location. Hint, take some time to explore the scenery around Lake Tahoe.

 

Photo courtesy of Donnie Sexton

Lake Placcid, New York

Did you know this is where the first Olympic dog sled demonstration was held? In fact, some of the town residents still use dog sleds as their dependable means of transportation during the winter. If you are looking for a tranquil spot and a variety of other winter activities, this is the place for you. Stay warm and happy trails!

 

Snow dog sled

Photo courtesy of lakeplaccidsummithotel.com

Seward, Alaska

This state had to appear somewhere on this list. So last, but not least, is Seward, a port city in southern Alaska. Renowned for its glaciers and mountain views, this is the perfect place to embark on an unforgettable snow dog sled tour. If you’re feeling up to it, catch a helicopter ride to the top of the glacier, then let the dog sledding adventures begin!

 

Photo courtesy of alaskashoreexcursions.com

There are so many options to choose from. States you probably never would have considered visiting boast some of the most stunning scenery and trails. Where are your sledding adventures taking you next? Visit someplace new!




7 Unique Bucket List Ideas for Travel in 2020

Unique Bucket List Ideas for Travel This Year
It’s the beginning of the new year, making it the perfect time to find unique bucket list ideas for this year’s travel adventures! In order to save you some search time, we compiled a list of seven places we think deserve a visit.

1. Bandon, OR

From stunning sunsets and coastal hikes to golfing and bird watching, the small town of Bandon provides a quiet, scenic setting that offers a wide range of activities. Check out a historic lighthouse, go fat-tire biking, or explore the unique boutiques and art shops along the pier. If you’re considering an Oregon road trip, then you should add this to your list of destinations!

Photo courtesy of tripsavvy.com

2. Letchworth State Park, NY

Everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, but what about “the Grand Canyon of the East”? Located in New York, this beautiful canyon includes three large waterfalls and boasts 600 foot cliffs. Whether you are the easy-going sightseer or the advanced hiker, this park offers tours, scenic lookouts, more than 66 miles of trails, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing!

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian.com

3. The Lost Sea, TN

Lakes are already pretty cool, but underground lakes are even better! In addition to being located in Eastern Tennessee, the Lost Sea is part of an extensive cave system called the Craighead Caverns. Take a guided tour of the caverns and, at the bottom, take a boat ride on America’s largest, underground lake. This adventure should definitely be considered as one of your unique bucket list ideas…especially if you plan to visit the southeast!

unique bucket list ideas
Photo courtesy of thelostsea.com

4. Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

Do you secretly have a dream of visiting the great, white sand dunes of Egypt, but find you don’t have the time or money for extensive traveling? The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado are a bit closer to home. While these sand dunes are the tallest in North America, they also host nearby mountains, and river. In other words, if you get tired and dusty from exploring, you can take a refreshing dip in the river near your campsite!

Photo courtesy of nps.gov

5. The Oak Alley Plantation, LA

If you love to visit historic sites, this location is for you! Visit the ‘Big House’, check out the Civil War encampment, and get an insider view of what slave living conditions looked like. This is one of the best preserved southern plantations and it is worth a visit!

Photo courtesy of oakalleyplantation.com

6. Olympic Hot Springs, WA

Have you ever wanted to visit a hot spring, but wanted to avoid the crowds? It’s certainly not very relaxing when you have to wait your turn in order to soak in a beautiful pool. The Olympic Hot Springs are the answer! Tired of your road trip and want to soak in a hot spring? Look no further. A mostly paved trail leads to 21 mineral water springs that are surrounded by lush, Washington forest. Secluded, relaxing, and a beautiful location.

unique bucket list ideas for your next trip
Photo courtesy of 1889mag.com

7. Kitch-iti-kipi, MI

Known as ‘the Big Spring’, Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest fresh water spring, flowing at a rate of 10,000 gallons of water per minute. Tucked away in Michigan’s upper peninsula, the crystal clear water, ancient forests, and abundance of trout make this unexpected attraction worth a spot on your bucket list.

add this lake to your unique bucket list ideas
Photo courtesy of atlasobscura.com

What unique bucket list ideas do you have in mind for travel in 2020? Let the new adventures begin!




Want to See Denali from the Air? Take an Alaska Scenic Flight Tour!

Alaska has been on our bucket list for quite some time. Instead of just checking it off, our visit has only created more reasons to go back. Our Alaska float plane rides were the best parts of our trip!

Alaska is a huge state. Even in person, you can’t seem to grasp the scale of everything you’re experiencing. I’ve never felt so small in comparison to my surroundings, yet the grandeur makes you feel larger than life. What made us feel even smaller? Exploring from the air on an Alaska float plane tour.

Flying in a float plane above the Alaska Range mountains.

As we began planning our trip, our list of desired experiences kept growing. We love scenic road trips, and couldn’t wait to experience this new landscape. With so much to see and limited time, we had to narrow down our list. 

Float plane leaving the water in Alaska.

Aerial Exploration: Alaska Float Plane Tours

 

We were excited to ask our friends in Alaska what they recommended as “must-do” experiences from a local perspective. Everyone seemed to agree that we’d need to see Alaska from the air to understand the vastness of it.  Getting a birds eye view of the water, mountains and most of all, glaciers, were our number one priority!

Our friends in Anchorage suggested that Rust’s Flying Adventures was the place to go for a scenic flight. After talking to the friendly staff at Rust’s, they suggested two different styles of scenic flights. The first would be flying a float plane through the Chugach mountains, over the Price Williams Sound and surrounding glaciers. The second flight would include flying around Denali, America’s tallest peak and landing below on Ruth Glacier.  Between the two flights, we were sure to get a good taste of Alaska! 

Collage of an Alaska float plane experience

There is no quick way to get to Alaska, however, our flight into Anchorage was stunning. I won’t forget our first preview of the impressive Chugach range. The next day we made our way to Hood Lake, the world’s largest and busiest floatplane base. We were greeted by our friendly and well-seasoned bush pilot, Bruce, who had spent his life flying planes all over the world.

Bruce informed us that the Prince William Sound route is one of his favorites. We loaded into a small deHaviland Beaver plane, each getting our own window seat and two way radio. Taking off from the water was a new experience for us.  As we left Anchorage, we followed the Turnagain Arm, flying along the Chugach Mountains.

Glacier in Alaska. View from float plane.

 

Checking out the Wildlife from an Alaskan Float Plane

Wildlife seen during an Alaska float plane tour, including a marmot, eagle, and moose.

We were lucky enough to take in some of the local wildlife, including Dall sheep high on the cliffs, a black bear and even a few whales surfacing as we flew over the Prince William Sound. From above we could see the valleys where the receding glaciers touch the rivers. All of the glacier water merges into massive blue-colored fjords and inlets. The highlight of this trip was the water landing near a glacier where we had a little bay to ourselves. We took a moment to enjoy the stunning scenery and solitude.

Owl seen in Alaska.

Throughout our flight we both felt speechless and overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery. I had experienced large mountains before, but never so many, so close and with so many glaciers and the sea to compliment the view! But we knew that our flying days weren’t over yet, and after such an exciting experience I couldn’t wait for our Alaska float plane tour of Denali.

Denali by Air

Double rainbow above the forests in Alaska.

We had to get up early and drive to Talkeetna, a cute town on the southern end of Denali National Park.  It was a gorgeous bluebird morning, and we caught our first glimpse of the magnificent Denali as we were driving along the highway. We checked in to the Denali Bluffs Hotel, grabbed our overboots to keep our feet dry once we landed on the glacier, and loaded the DeHavilland Turbine Otter.

Alaska float plane tour on a glacier

This plane was slightly larger than the float plane from the day before. We still had our own windows, but this time we were ready to land on a glacier! As we left Talkeetna, we flew over the mighty Susitna River and up the valley towards the Alaska Mountain Range. The forest landscape below started evolving into the tundra, and the hills were replaced by mountains.

As the plane turned, what looked like a large cloud system on the horizon started to transform into the silhouette of the massive peak. Denali is such a large mountain that it has its own weather patterns. The peaks can be rather elusive to get a clear view of, but we were in luck that day!  We flew next to the jagged ridges that were delicately covered in overhanging cornus. There were massive glacier fields and equally impressive “smaller” peaks. We saw the climbers’ basecamp before preparing ourselves to get a small taste of what these mountaineers experience.

Denali National Park seen from afar.

Descending onto the Glacier

I felt as if we were shrinking as we descended below the the massive heights. We were greeted with a lovely glacial breeze as we stepped off the plane. We spent 20 minutes just soaking in the experience. Surrounded by 360 degrees of granite peaks, I found myself disoriented by the scale of how huge everything was, and overwhelmed by the majestic experience. We loaded back up and tried to soak in every view as we made our way back towards Talkeetna, watching where the glaciers turned into rivers, flowing back through the forest, and toward the valley we started in. An Alaska float plane tour is definitely the best way to experience the Alaskan wilderness.

Hiker on Savage Creek Trail.

As we left Talkeetna, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude. It’s truly special to experience this place in such an intimate way. Seeing Alaska from a float plane was truly the best way to appreciate the scale of the landscape. It was easily one of the most exciting and memorable experiences we’ve ever had.  Seeing Alaska in this lens left me craving more, and with an appreciation of just how vast Alaska is. I can’t wait to go back for more. 

 

Check out our Alaska road trip itinerary to help plan your trip!

Alaska Pinterest PIn

 




West Wendover, Rich in History and Beauty

Driving into West Wendover quickly sets the stage for what kind of adventures you can expect.

Coming in from the east brings you across miles and miles of salt flats. Those driving in from the west get to appreciate the more staggered landscape. A mixture of mountains and plains act as open arms to the outdoor enthusiasts.

West Wendover sits perfectly in the middle of both.

This story was created in partnership with City of West Wendover.

Welcome to West Wendover

A Place In History

This small community capitalizes on all things rich in enjoyment and history.

West Wendover established itself on the Utah/Nevada border as a railroad town and became an oasis for travelers going from one state to the next. In fact, this small town helped telephone lines connect coast to coast for the first time back in 1914. This made it possible for people to communicate from Back East to the West Coast! It is only fitting, then, that you can see the curvature of the earth when you make a stop in West Wendover.

West Wendover was a center for communication, commerce and fun. The town quickly started attracting people not only to visit, but to stay and put down roots.

West Wendover Airfield Musuem

Wendover Army Air Field

Shortly after West Wendover became a stop on the border, the United States Army began construction on Wendover Army Air Base. This base became critically important during World War II. The base was the largest the Army had. It quickly became the center for research in new tech during the war and focused on training heavy bomb groups.

Today, you can visit the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum to tour a massive Con Air aircraft, watch a hair-raising airshow, and learn about this base and the people who were integral in America’s history. This impressive military museum even includes a control tower that you can climb, in addition to all the fascinating interpretive displays.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats

Directly east of West Wendover is possibly one of the most picturesque places you can visit in the continental United States: the Bonneville Salt Flats. If you wake up early enough and it has recently rained, you will come across some of the most amazing reflections during sunrise. The water mirroring the colors of the sky is magical. If the early morning isn’t your thing, you can also visit the salt plains later in the day to try to spot vehicles attaining incredible land speeds.

(Photo tip: For the best shots, pull over at the rest stop nearest town as you drive in from the east.)

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

A short ways south of West Wendover and just on the Utah side is Blue Lake. This gem of lake is an incredibly deep and very warm body of water. This geothermal lake stays a consistent 72 degrees year-round. With warm waters, a healthy population of fish, and a 66-foot depth, it’s a very popular destination to earn your scuba certification.

West Wendover

Mountains and Trails

To the west and north of West Wendover jut out various mountains with endless trails. Pack your hiking boots or mountain bike, or rent an ATV to explore these beautiful landscapes.

The nearby Goshute Mountain Range acts as not only a playground for people, but also as a migratory path for hawks and other birds. From mid-August to early November, visitors can make the hike to the upper parts of the mountains and witness dozens of various birds making their way south.

Skywalk in West Wendover

Stay and Play in West Wendover

Surrounded by all this natural beauty and wonder is the winning personality of West Wendover. Lit up in true Nevada-style, this town knows how to entertain. From the airshow at the historic airfield, to a casino scene that boasts a dramatic skywalk, to full-scale concerts where every seat in the house is less than 88 feet from the stage, West Wendover is the place to stay and play—and win.

Stay in town on a rainy day and dive into history and entertainment, or go outside when the sun’s out for spectacular views. Either way, you’ll come out of West Wendover with stories and pictures worthy of sharing from East to West Coast!




Escape the Crowds with a Road Trip in UpState California

California is a simply astounding place. It stretches for 900 miles along the west coast of the United States and encompasses world-famous gems such as Yosemite National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and many more. But along with such well known destinations come tons of tourists. Escape the crowds with a road trip to the Shasta Cascade region of UpState California. Here, there are just as many outdoor adventures to experience with a fraction of the traffic!

This story was created in partnership with Shasta-Cascade Wonderland Association.

Upstate California Pin

Exploring Redding in UpState CA

Find Out Why Redding is UpState CA’s Adventure Hub

Redding is the perfect jumping-off point for your adventures in UpState CA. Fly into the local airport or Sacramento (two hours away). Then, drop your bags off at the Sheraton Redding Hotel, located conveniently downtown at the iconic Sundial Bridge. That afternoon, the kids will love checking out neighboring Turtle Bay Exploration Park where they can learn about local indigenous history and culture, interact with animals such as Timber the beaver, feed lorikeets by hand, let loose on a number of playgrounds, and more.

The next morning, head to Pedego Redding where a fleet of e-bikes from cruisers to mountain bikes awaits. We recommend heading directly down the Sacramento River Trail to explore sights like the arboretum and Sundial Bridge. More ambitious cyclists can pack a picnic and go 17.4 miles all the way to Shasta Dam. No matter how far you ride you will be thrilled with the power of electricity in your wheels!

Wild Horse Sanctuary in UpState California

Go On a Trail Ride at the Wild Horse Sanctuary

That afternoon, journey towards the mountains to the Wild Horse Sanctuary. This wonderful operation is a true labor of love and home to 300 wild mustangs. You’ll have the chance to go for a picnic trail ride (Saturdays only) on the property and see the wild horses, learn about local flora and fauna, and soak in expansive views. Not visiting on a Saturday? You can still visit the wild horses on Wednesdays, too!

That evening, celebrate a surreal first day in UpState CA with a cocktail and indulgent meal from Mosaic, the Sheraton’s mouth-watering partner restaurant. We also recommend taking a peek at the Sundial Bridge after sunset!

Adventure at Shasta Caverns Lake Shasta on your Road Trip

Explore Shasta Lake and Shasta Caverns

The next morning, road trip north to Shasta Lake. This beautiful body of water is a favorite spot for boating, but our favorite thing to do is check out Shasta Caverns. This natural labyrinth of caves was formed 250 million years ago. Today, Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark is a must on any road trip in UpState California. Ask for “Cave Dave” as your guide and enjoy a wonder-filled tour through a series of mesmerizing natural passageways. You’ll also get to experience a short trip across the lake on both the beginning and end of the tour.

Road Trip Through UpState California

Road Trip Through Scenic Northern California

Get lunch in the town of Mt. Shasta, where weather-permitting the mountain is a sight to behold! Stretch your legs with a meander through town before continuing to your next stop, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. The central feature of the park is the stunning 129-foot Burney Falls. Walk the short one-mile Falls Loop Trail to take in the waterfall from all angles, then it’s back on the road! You’ll enjoy miles of scenic roadway that culminates with a drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Note: please fuel up your car at the northern entrance to the park, as services are limited on the southern side.)

Enjoy sunset views of Manzanita Lake and Lassen Peak along the 30-mile park road before arriving at your home for the night—the Village at Childs Meadow. Chances are you’ll be ready for a hearty dinner! We recommend nearly anything on the menu paired with a locally brewed Khaki Hat lager from Lassen Ale Works at the Highlands Ranch Resort.

Hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park in UpState CA

Go Hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park

On your final day, rise as the sun crests the mountain into Childs Meadow. Bacon and coffee are served hot at the restaurant and are great fuel for a day of hiking! The two most iconic hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park are Lassen Peak and Bumpass Hell. With over 150 miles of trails to explore, you’ll find something perfect for the whole family. Keep in mind that this region is at altitude (much of it over 7,000 feet), so temperatures will be significantly lower than in Redding. It also might be a little harder to catch your breath during your hike and it’s that much more important to stay hydrated!

Getting back in the car that afternoon for your next destination or flight. You’ll be amazed at how much you experienced in just three days in UpState California!




Nowoodstock: The Ultimate Wyoming Music Festival

Need something to spice up your western summer road trip? Two words my friends: music festivals. You may not have figured there are cool, underground music festivals in Wyoming, but think again. Nowoodstock is one of Wyoming’s coolest music festivals, and it gets better every year.

This article was created in partnership with Bighorn Mountain Country.

I was so excited to explore Nowoodstock. I’d been hearing about the festival for years but had never made the trip. I’ve spent lots of time rock climbing in Tensleep Canyon, but was excited to see the town from a new perspective. I headed up on a sunny Friday afternoon with the weekend’s lineup playing in my head.

Exploring Downtown Worland

My first stop was to explore downtown Worland, Wyoming. For such a small town, it has some cool personality. I wandered around, admiring some murals and stopping into a bike shop, and Bee Healthy, a cool health food store.

Downtown Worland, Wyoming, including a mural, bike shop, health food store, and flowers.

I asked a local store owner where to go for dinner. They suggested Goodie’s, a spot that didn’t even show up on Yelp! I felt a little hesitant, but was excited to try a local favorite. The restaurant is set up deli-style, and locals dotted the room. When my burger came, all my doubts disappeared. Let me preface my next statement by saying that lots of places in Wyoming claim that their burgers are the best, but Goodie’s burgers are actually the best. It was true burger perfection.

Goodie's restaurant in Worland, Wyoming.

The Best of the Music Festivals in Wyoming

After one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, I was ready to hit the festival. Nowoodstock is a throwback festival to its namesake, and the spirit of the event is too. Since Nowoodstock is still fairly small, I parked right across the street and wandered over. Food trucks selling everything from Dippin’ Dots to Indian frybread to bbq lined the grounds, and the evening’s entertainment was already warming up. Craftsmen of all kinds were selling everything from fish leather wallets to beaded knife sheaths. There was even a hippie tie-dye painted massage trailer!

Vendors and artists at a music festival in Wyoming.

The performers at Nowoodstock ranged from professional musicians to people just starting out. The thing they all had in common was how talented they are. From Tensleep legend Jalan Crossland to newcomer Lacy Nelson, each group brought their own unique skills. From bluegrass to country, jazz to folk, the musicians of Nowoodstock put on great performances all weekend long!

Musicians perform at Nowoodstock, one of the best music festivals in Wyoming.

Between sets, I wandered around town to explore one of the best local spots: Dirty Sally’s. They have tons of local crafts and gifts, a good selection of produce and other groceries, an ice cream bar, and the best iced coffee in the state! Downtown Tensleep has several eateries, and the Bighorn Mountain Stage Co. has all kinds of interesting finds!

Dirty Sally's general store in downtown Tensleep, Wyoming.

Don’t Forget the Beer!

Tensleep also has a great microbrewery called Tensleep Brewing Co. Their laidback environment is a haunt for locals, climbers, and bikers. They have tons of variety in their beers, and their knowledgeable brewers can tell you all about the process. The brewery has events throughout the summer, from trivia nights to live music.

Interior images of Tensleep Brewing company in Tensleep, Wyoming.

I love Tensleep for the climbing, but now, I have another reason to show up in the summer. Nowoodstock is definitely one of the coolest music festivals in Wyoming. Be sure to put it on your calendar for next year!

A crowd gathers at Nowoodstock one of the best music festivals in Wyoming.

Can’t get enough of Worland and Tensleep? Check out these 10 great things to do in Washakie County!

What is your favorite of the lesser-known music festivals in Wyoming? Tell us below!

 

 

 

 

 




Explore the Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous

If you like history, dressing up, or exploring a different time period, drop by the Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous. Akin to a Renaissance Fair, historical reenactment participants dress in period costume and participate in life circa 1838. No time machine necessary.

This story was created in partnership with the Riverton Chamber of Commerce.

Welcome to the 1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous

The 1838 Riverton, Wyoming Mountain Man Rendezvous is part cultural experience, part historical reenactment, and part get together. Folks from around the country travel to the various mountain man rendezvous reenactments. It’s a celebration of the mountain man way of life, complete with nightly music, stories around the campfire, and even knife throwing! Thanks to the people who attended the Rendezvous and kept journals, the 1838 Rendezvous is the most well-documented of the 16 held in the region! It is also the only reenactment in the country held on the original rendezvous grounds.

Explore the Historic Site

1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous reenactment site.

The site is full of vendor tents, selling everything from artisan beadwork, furs, and top hats to knives and books. It really feels like you’re stepping back through time to see what life was like in 1838. The shops are set up in canvas structures, a testament to how the mountain men of yore practiced Leave No Trace principles.

If you’re looking to purchase goods, be forewarned, some traders will only trade with other vendors. Don’t be too offended if someone won’t sell you a dashing top hat. After all, the Rendezvous was originally held by fur traders, not fur sellers!

Learn Some Mountain Man Rendezvous Skills

Earrings, flags, and a quilt at the 2019 Riverton Mountain Man rendezvous.

Past the vendor tents, folks who are fully participating in the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous have their residence tents set up. There’s a large mess hall where people gather, eat, and catch up. People wander around the site to chat with neighbors, borrow or barter for supplies, and generally just enjoy the company and the great outdoors.

At the end of the trail, a shooting range is set up for participants and visitors alike. People can try their hand at shooting black powder rifles. It’s easy to forget the early process of shooting a gun, but in the past, it was quite involved to load another ball. In addition to the black powder shoots, several other “how to” classes are held at the 1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous.

The Environmentally-Conscious Mountain Man

A collage of a gun, a woman in period costume shooting a gun, and a rendezvous camp set up.

According to the 1838 Rendezvous Association, “Mountain Men left no physical trace of their lives upon the western landscape and this site is dedicated to the men, women and children who moved so lightly upon the world that only the land and the river remain as a witness to those shining times.” Leaving a natural place better than we found it is a lesson all outdoor enthusiasts can take to heart!

In addition to the interesting wares, historical demonstration, and kid-friendly games, there are nightly Council Meetings that discuss all matter of Rendezvous official business.People participating in the rendezvous.

For more information on the 1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous, be sure to follow them on Facebook!

While you’re in town, check out everything else Riverton, Wyoming has to offer!

A Pinterest pin for the Riverton 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous.




Celebrate Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming

If you’ve been following us here at Visit USA Parks for some time, you know we are big fans of Cheyenne, Wyoming and their colossal Western celebration, Cheyenne Frontier Days! This 10-day festival is home to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, adoringly referred to as the Daddy of ’em All. For those experiencing Frontier Days for the first time, here’s our guide to the festival and a few tips for the rest of your time in Cheyenne.

This story was created in partnership with Cheyenne Frontier Days and Visit Cheyenne.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Parade

Celebrate Cheyenne Frontier Days

Visitors from near and far flock to Cheyenne during Cheyenne Frontier Days. This 10-day festival is an annual event that celebrates all things American West. Now in its 123rd year, Cheyenne Frontier Days features a Grand Parade, Old Frontier Town, Family Fun Days, live music, and the biggest attraction of them all—the Daddy of ‘em All Rodeo. This is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and is a sight to behold for rodeo newbies and experts alike! 

Cheyenne Frontier Days Trolley Tour

But First, Enjoy Cheyenne!

Before diving into the Frontier Days fun, get acclimated in Cheyenne. We recommend taking the Trolley Tour, where you’ll get a look at the city’s rich western past, historic buildings, and most infamous characters. You might also enjoy taking the kids on a scavenger hunt around town to find eight-foot-tall cowboy boots that are hand-painted by local artists. Garden aficionados will want to stop by Cheyenne Botanic Gardens for free entry into a newly opened lush indoor greenhouse—a great reprieve on a hot summer day! 

Terry Bison Ranch in Wyoming

Be a Cowboy at Terry Bison Ranch

For those wanting to try out cowboying themselves, head to Terry Bison Ranch. You’ll get to ride the train to feed bison by hand and observe the workings of a real ranch. Movie buffs will enjoy that this is the bison herd that featured in the hit film Dances with Wolves. Then, take a horseback ride across some of the property. Your guide will answer any questions you have about horsemanship or the ranch as you enjoy the wild west scenery.

Cheyenne Food and Culture

Explore Cheyenne Food & Culture

That evening, dinner is served fresh at the Wyoming Rib & Chop House. We recommend pairing your entree with a local brew from Accomplice Brewery, right down the road. Afterward, you might enjoy a melodrama at Cheyenne’s Little Theatre. This historic venue still serves sarsaparilla—the perfect complement to the lively entertainment! Those looking for a party can check out the Outlaw Saloon. Another fun local spot with two stages for live music and a mechanical bull, you’ll really have a chance to dance the dust off your boots after a full first day exploring Cheyenne.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo

See the Frontier Days Grand Parade

Kick off the festivities the following morning with the Grand Parade. The parade starts at the capitol building and is old-fashioned fun for the whole family. Enjoy watching Miss Rodeo America, colorful floats, and marching bands stream by in succession. The parade also features the world’s largest collection of historic wagons!

Next, you might consider taking a “behind the chutes” tour. This is a rare opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the world’s biggest outdoor rodeo. You’ll even be able to have your photo taken in the chutes!

Frontier Days Rodeo Kickoff

The Grand Finale: The Daddy of ‘Em All

When the national anthem kicks off the Daddy of ‘em All later that afternoon, you’ll feel like Cheyenne local! Here you can watch the best of the best compete in different events. They include roping, wrestling, bull and bronc riding, and even a wild horse race that will have you on the edge of your seat. Rodeo is a fascinating sport in which both animal and rider are considered athletes. You’ll learn all about the rules, safety considerations, and scoring system while enjoying the entertainment in Cheyenne. 

That evening, enjoy live country music from some of the country’s best artists as they perform on a new state-of-the-art stage that is pulled onto the rodeo arena by John Deere tractors. It doesn’t get much more Western than that.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Pin