Joshua Tree National Park, California
If you’ve ever wanted to go rock climbing, this is the end-all-be-all of climbing. It offers the best climbs/routes in the world for all ages and skill levels. It’s also a wondrous place to go hiking.
Make sure you time it carefully because it can be unbearably hot in the summer. A good plan is to stop by one of the few water-holes at sunrise or sunset if you’re still and quiet, it is possible to see the bighorn sheep.
In the spring this place comes alive with the wildflowers controlling the landscape. The actual Joshua tree is a unique plant that is rarely found outside of this area.
Everglades National Park
Do you want to get up and close to alligators? The Everglades is the place to go! It’s a large area so choose where you will go during your time here. It is another place you need to visit at the right time of the year because it can be miserable in the heat and mosquitoes of the summer.
The Shark Valley Trail offers a chance to hike, bike or take a sight-seeing tram. This trail that puts you alongside alligators in a way you’ve never experienced.
The park service offers great educational classes to teach you about this unique place. Much of the park is mangrove swamp and it’s highly recommended to take a swamp tour from many of the local outfitters.
Olympic National Park
If you’re going to be visiting Olympic National Park you need to be prepared to have your breath taken away. Yet another large National Park, allow a good amount of time to explore this place or you’ll miss out…
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to visit many of the beaches. In fact, it’s possible (I did it) to hike and visit 5 of the top beaches in one day: First Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach, Rialto Beach and Ruby Beach.
Whether you like beach-combing, fishing, surfing, photography, hiking, or something else; you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do it on any of these scenic beaches.
Have you always wanted to visit a rain forest? You can do that too! Lake Crescent Lodge is a great place to swing in and grab a bite at the waterfront restaurant. Go hiking to some waterfalls and bag the peak at the end of the Storm King Trail.
Redwood National Park
The tallest trees in the world are found in Redwood National Park. These mighty redwoods grow to over 300 ft tall and over 2,000 years old!
It’s a rare place to be able to walk among these ancient giants. The stout grove trail is highly regarded as one of the best hikes. It takes you on a beautiful paved trail through an old growth forest and also takes you to a river. It’s a flat trail and anybody can do it.
One of the best drives in the world is the Howland Hill Road which takes you on an old logging road deep through the forest. Other incredible scenic drives are the Newton B Drury scenic drive, Enderts Beach Drive, Coastal Drive, Requa Road, Cal-Barrel Road, and Davison Road. All these drives should be done.
The Klamath River is the 2nd largest in California and offers incredible fishing. At the mouth of the Klamath River where it dumps into the ocean there is one of the highest populations of Great White Sharks in the world at certain times of the year. It used to be one of the top surf spots as it offers incredible waves. But, due to the large number of shark attacks, nobody surfs here anymore. If you do go there, it offers unbelievable beach combing and crazy amounts of marine life.
If you time it during the gray whale migration you’ll see them hug the shoreline on the way up and down the coast. They come in close to avoid the killer whales just a little bit further out to sea.
Yellowstone National Park
What a wonderful and unique place. There are more than 10,000 hydrothermal features in Yellowstone. Old faithful draws a crowd when it blows but the park is home to more than 500 active geysers.
It’s a place where wildlife is wild. You’ll find elk, bison, and even wolves roaming the forest. Bison are often easily found right on the roadways. They look mellow but don’t be fooled, these massive beasts are large and can move quick. They don’t take kindly to tourists getting in their space to grab a photo. Stay in your vehicle.
There are countless hikes of all lengths and skill levels. Mountains, streams, rivers and lakes can be explored. The lodges are places where you can grab a hot meal, get information about the park, buy a souvenir, or relax and meet like-minded people. If you come here it offers unbelievable beach combing and crazy amounts of marine life.