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  • National Park

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    The story of the Smoky Mountains began in primordial times when clashing supersized continents created a chain of mountains that are today among the oldest on the planet. Some of the rock here formed at the bottom of an ancient sea over a billion years ago, which were later uplifted when the African tectonic plate slammed into the side of North America.The human history here is ancient, too – Indigenous peoples have lived in the region of the Smoky Mountains since prehistoric times, an archeologists have found 10,000 year old hunting projectiles and ceramics from 700BCE.When European settlers arrived in the 17th century, they encountered the Cherokee, who lived in settlements along the river valleys. The Smokies lay at the center of their vast territory until they were forced out of the region on the Trail of Tears. In the 1900s lumber companies arrived, nearly wiping out the forests. Luckily, in the 1920s a few visionary locals fought for the park’s creation, which finally became a reality in 1934.Today, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the United States. That's in part thanks to its easy access from numerous major metros, including North Carolina's research triangle, Knoxville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Washington, DC. It's also thanks to the early decision to make the park very drivable, with a mixture of roads and hiking trails that appeal to a variety of nature lovers from casual history buffs and wildlife watchers to seasoned backpackers and thru-hikers. The cherry on top is that this national park is free to access, with no entrance fees or America the Beautiful pass required.If that piques your interest, we have information on how and when to visit, what to see, where to camp, and which trails should be on your Smoky Mountains bucket list. Whether it's your first time in the Smokies or you're a long-term regular, just read on.Hiking in Smoky Mountains National ParkThe Smokies are part of the vast Appalachian chain, among the oldest mountains on the planet. Formed more than 200 million years ago, these ancient peaks were once much higher – perhaps as high as the Himalayas – but have been worn down by the ages. You can contemplate that remote past while huffing your way up to the top of a 6000ft peak overlooking the seemingly endless expanse of undulating ridges that stretch off into the distance. There are mesmerizing viewpoints all across the park, as well as one mountaintop lodge that can only be reached by foot.Home to more than 800 miles of walking trails, the national park has no shortage of great hikes, from short waterfall jaunts to multiday treks across the breadth of the mountains. Here are a few highlights:Clingmans DomeNo matter when you visit, the highest peak in the national park offers dazzling views. From the circular, flying-saucer-like viewing platform, you'll have a sweeping 360-degree panorama of the undulating waves of forested peaks that stretch off into the distance. While it's an easy but steep uphill walk along the paved half-mile path to the observation tower, there are many outstanding trails that cross through here – including the Appalachian Trail and the Alum Cave Bluffs trail. And if you come in winter, when the access road is closed, you'll have those grand views all to yourself.The Appalachian TrailAmerica's most fabledwalkin the woods stretches for nearly 2200 miles across 14 states. Some 71 miles of the challenging trail runs along the spine of the Smoky Mountains, taking you to soaring overlooks, through misty coniferous forests and past old-fashioned fire towers offering staggering views over the park's verdant expanse. Even if you don't have a week to spare (much less six months to hike the whole Appalachian Trail), you can still enjoy some marvelous day or overnight hikes along this legendary trail.Mt LeConteOne of the most challenging and rewarding day hikes in the park is the ascent up Mt LeConte, the third-highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. Several trails wind their way up, passing rushing rivers, waterfalls, log bridges and precipitous views before reaching the summit at 6593ft. At the top, you can pay a visit to the rustic lodge that's been in operation since before the creation of the national park in 1934. Book a cabin (well in advance) to make the most of this extraordinary Smoky Mountain experience.Alum Cave BluffsOne of the 10 most popular trails in the Smoky Mountains, Alum Cave Bluffs often draws a crowd. It's a fantastic walk crossing log bridges, spying old-growth forest and enjoying fine views, though you should try to be on the trail before 9am to enjoy the scenery without the maddening crowds. Highlights includeArch Rock, where handcrafted stone steps ascend steeply through the portal of an impressive stone arch that looks like something Frodo was compelled to climb. Beyond this interesting formation, the trail crosses the Styx Branch and begins a steep ascent.The forest gives way to open sky at the next point of interest, a large heath bald where mountain laurel and blueberry bushes grow in a dense mass. After some huffing and puffing, you’ll be repaid for your efforts at a scenic vista calledInspiration Point. From here, it’s a short climb to Alum Cave Bluffs. As it turns out, the name is a misnomer. Waiting for you is not a cave, but rather a rock overhang. Moreover, the rocks contain not alum, but sulfur and rare minerals, some not known to occur elsewhere. If you’re game for more delightful punishment, you can continue on from Alum Cave Bluffs to the summit of Mt LeConte, 2.7 miles up the trail.Ramsey CascadesOne of our favorite hikes in the park, the trail to Ramsey Cascades travels through old-growth forest dotted with massive tulip trees to one spectacular waterfall. You'll need to work hard to make it here – it's tough going, with an elevation gain of 2280ft. The hike's start is deceptively easy, along a wide, packed trail beside the rushing Middle Prong of the Pigeon River. At mile 1.5 things get interesting (hard, rather) as the path narrows and winds its way uphill over spidery roots and past scenic overlooks of the rushing river below.Around mile 2.6 you'll pass massive old-growth trees that have loomed over the forest canopy for centuries. The final half-mile steepens even more before you finally reach the refreshing falls, which plunge 100ft over chiseled ledges of gray stone. Congratulations, you've made it to the highest waterfall in the park. Don't ruin the moment by trying to climb up the waterfall, as a few people have died falling from the slippery rocks up top. Instead, keep an eye out for well-camouflaged salamanders on the periphery of the pool at the base of the cascades.Camping in the SmokiesGreat Smoky Mountains National Park provides varied camping options. LeConte Lodge is the only place where you can get a room, however, and you have to hike to the top of a mountain to enjoy the privilege. Gatlinburg has the most sleeping options of any gateway town, though prices are high. Nearby Pigeon Forge, 10 miles north of Sugarlands Visitor Center, and Sevierville, 17 miles north, have cheaper options.The National Park Service maintains developed campgrounds at nine locations in the park (a 10th remains closed indefinitely). Each campground has restrooms with cold running water and flush toilets, but there are no showers or electrical or water hookups in the park (though some campgrounds do have electricity for emergency situations). Each individual campsite has a fire grate and picnic table. Many sites can be reserved in advance, and several campgrounds (Cataloochee, Abrams Creek, Big Creek and Balsam Mountain) require advance reservations.With nine developed campgrounds offering more than 900 campsites, you'd think finding a place to pitch would be easy. Not so in the busy summer season, so plan ahead. You can make reservations for most sites; others are first-come, first-served. Cades Cove and Smokemont campgrounds are open year-round; others are open March to October.Backcountry camping is an excellent option, which is only chargeable up to five nights ($4 per night; after that, it's free). A permit is required. You can make reservations online, and get permits at the ranger stations or visitor centers. Be sure to know thecampground regulations.Driving the Smoky MountainsAs Philip D'Anieri explains in The Appalachian Trail: A Biography, building scenic byways into national parks was a controversial idea at the time parks like Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains were first established. Did they give the American public well-deserved access to natural spaces where they could find recreation and spiritual contemplation, or did they represent the intrusion of the urban world into pristine natural spaces best experienced on foot?That's a debate that still grips the outdoor community today, but in the end, roads are part of what make the Great Smoky Mountains experience what it is today. A slow ride along stretches of Little River Road, Cades Cove Loop Road, through the Cataloochee Valley, or Upper Tremont Road is the perfect way to take it easy – and with 384 miles of road in the Smokies, you can keep coming back for more. Here are some highlights:Newfound Gap RoadThe only paved route that bisects the park, the Newfound Gap Road offers fabulous scenery of the mountain forests as it curves its way for 33 miles between Cherokee, NC, and Gatlinburg, TN. While you could make the north–south traverse in an hour or two, it's well worth taking it slow, stopping at scenic overlooks, having a picnic lunch beside a rushing mountain stream and going for a hike or two along one of the many memorable trails that intersect this iconic motorway.Roaring Fork Motor Nature TrailAlthough it's just 5.5 miles long, this scenic road holds a treasure chest of natural wonders. Named after the fast-flowing mountain stream that courses beside it, the Roaring Fork takes you to lookouts with panoramic views over the mountains, past pockets of old-growth forest and right beside shimmering waterfalls tumbling over moss-covered stones. You'll also see vestiges of human settlement in the area, including an old farmstead that sheds light on the area's early inhabitants. Several excellent hiking trails start from this road, including to the lovely Grotto Falls.Foothills ParkwayAfter years of construction and tens of millions of dollars in investment, a new 16-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway was slated to open in late 2018. Visitors can now enjoy a 33-mile stretch of magnificent views on the newly extended parkway.More things to doThe sun-dappled forests of the Great Smoky Mountains are a four-season wonderland. Rich blooms of springtime wildflowers come in all colors and sizes, while flame azaleas light up the high-elevation meadows in summer. Autumn brings its own fiery rewards with quilted hues of orange, burgundy and saffron blanketing the mountain slopes. In winter, snow-covered fields and ice-fringed cascades transform the Smokies into a serene, cold-weather retreat. This mesmerizing backdrop is also a World Heritage Site, harboring more biodiversity than any other national park in America. Here are a few activities that will get you in on the fun:See the firefliesEach year in late spring or early summer, parts of the national park light up with synchronous fireflies, a mesmerizing display where thousands of insects flash their lanterns (aka abdominal light organs) in perfect unison. The event draws huge crowds of people to the Elkmont Campground, one of the best places in the Smokies to see it. Dates of the event change every year, but it can happen anytime between late May and late June.Viewing dates are typically announced in April. All those who want to see the event must obtain a parking pass through a lottery system, and then take a shuttle to the site.The service runs from the Sugarlands Visitor Center for eight days of predicted peak activity during the fireflies’ two-week mating period.Wildlife watching in CataloocheeTucked into the eastern reaches of the national park, Cataloochee is one of the top wildlife-watching spots in the Smokies. You can watch massive elk grazing, see wild turkeys strutting about and perhaps even spy a bear or two. Hiking paths crisscross the valley, including the Boogerman Trail, which leads through old-growth forest. Cataloochee was also home to one of the largest settlements in the Smokies, and you can delve into the past while wandering through log cabins, a one-room schoolhouse and a photogenic church, all dating back to the early 1900s.Rafting the Pigeon RiverMany winding creaks and crystal-clear streams rushing through the Smokies find their way into the Big Pigeon River. When they converge, they create a fantastic setting for white-water adventures on churning rapids amid a gorgeous forest backdrop. Families with small kids can enjoy a peaceful paddle on the Little Pigeon, while those seeking a bit more adventure should opt for the Upper Pigeon with its class III and IV rapids. It all makes for a fun day's outing with some of the best rafting in the southeast.History at Cades CoveSurrounded by mountains, the lush valley of Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations in the national park. The draw: great opportunities for wildlife-watching, access to some fantastic hiking trails, and remnants of buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, on an easy tour of the area, you can visit old churches, barns, log houses and a working gristmill, most of which date back to the first European settlement in the 1820s.When to visitThe park is open year-round, but summer and fall are the most popular seasons, lush with wildflowers and colorful fall foliage. Some facilities are closed late fall through early spring, and roads may be closed in winter due to inclement weather.In April, spring makes its appearance with wildflowers, bigger crowds (during spring break) and the reopening of most campgrounds and roads. Nights can still dip below freezing (take note campers), but days can be delightfully sunny and warm. May is one of the best months to see spring wildflowers and flowering trees such as dogwoods and redwoods in the forests. Warm days mix with rainfall (a year-round possibility), and lodging prices are still lower than peak summer rates.June and July are some of the most popular months in the park with school out for the summer, the synchronous fireflies putting on their show, and the Independence Day Midnight Parade in Gatlinburg. The fall leaf-peeping peak kicks in around October, when campgrounds fill up and roads slow to a crawl on weekends. By November,the crowdsthin as the blazing autumn colors now litter the floor (rather than the treetops). Some roads and campgrounds close for the season. You can score good deals on lodging.Christmas is a big production in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Bryson City, with plenty of colorful lights and family-friendly events. Grab your snowshoes and see the park free of crowds in January and February, when the waterfalls turn into ice sculptures and roaring fires at your rental cabin are peak hygge.Planning your tripThe closest airports to the national park areMcGhee Tyson Airportnear Knoxville (40 miles northwest of Sugarlands Visitor Center) andAsheville Regional Airport, 58 miles east of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Further afield you'll find Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, 140 miles southwest of the park, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, 170 miles east, andHartsfield-Jackson International Airportin Atlanta, 175 miles south of the park. After you fly in, you'll need a car as there's no public transportation to the park. There's a wide variety of car-rental outfits at each of the airports, however.Unlike other national parks, Great Smoky Mountains is free to enter. The only fees you'll be charged are for camping or if you rent a picnic pavilion. There are four visitors centers inside the park itself at Cades Cove, Oconaluftee, Sugarlands and Clingmans Dome, as well as three info centers outside the park in "gateway" towns of Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Townsend, Tennessee.The number one thing to be aware of during your visit is the Smoky Mountains' beloved bear population. A number of regulations are in place specifically to reduce the chances you might have the wrong kind of bear encounter. To wit, dogs must be on a leash at all times within the park and are not allowed on hiking trails. Food and cooking equipment must be kept in your vehicle whenever they aren't in immediate use, along with water containers and anything with a strong scent, like candles or your favorite body wash. Food storage lockers are available at several campgrounds, and garbage disposal units are specially designed to deter bears.History of Smoky Mountains National ParkSpanish explorer Hernando de Soto was probably the first European to reach the Smokies, when he arrived in the southern Appalachian mountains in 1540.De Soto led an expedition of 600 men on a long, wandering journey from which only half of them would return. On their march west along the southern edge of the Smoky Mountains, the Spaniards stopped to camp alongside the Oconaluftee River.There they encountered Cherokee, who had long since established seasonal hunting camps, as well as trails through the mountains that connected various settlements. Cades Cove likely once housed a permanent Cherokee village, called Tsiyahi or ‘Place of the Otters,’ which was located along the banks of Abrams Creek. The other permanent Cherokee settlement within today’s park boundaries was Oconaluftee village, set along the river near the present-day Oconaluftee Visitor Center.The Smokies remained largely unexplored by Europeans for the next two centuries. Then in 1775 the American naturalist and Quaker William Bartram spent several months in southern Appalachia during his four-year journey through the southeast. He became one of the first to accurately write about the region – both about its wildlife and its native people. The German immigrant John Jacob Mingus and his family were among the first Europeans to set up homesteads in the Oconaluftee River Valley when they arrived in 1798 (their descendants would remain in the region, and later set up the Mingus Mill). Over the next few decades, other homesteaders put down roots in Cades Cove and the Cataloochee Valley, too.Although the settlers were generally on good terms with the Cherokee, Indigenous people were nearly entirely gone from the area by 1819 after the Cherokee nation and other tribes were forced to cede all of their lands in the Smoky Mountains in the 1819 Treaty of Calhoun. In the decades following the Civil War, a new threat soon faced the Smokies: logging. At first, it started out small, with selective timber cutting carried out by local landowners throughout the Smokies. By 1900, however, industrialists saw enormous financial opportunities in the large stands of old-growth forest in the mountains and began buying up properties and commencing large-scale operations.While huge swaths of the forest were being felled by lumber companies, more and more locals were beginning to notice the devastation left by clear-cutting. In the early 1920s a few key figures from Knoxville, TN, and Asheville, NC, began to advocate for the conservation of the Smokies.Ann Davis was one of the first to put forth the idea of creating a national park in the Smokies. After visiting several national parks out west in 1923, she and her husband, Willis Davis, worked tirelessly to recruit allies towards the goal of creating the park. She even entered politics, and in 1924 became the first woman elected in Knox County to serve in the Tennessee State House of Representatives.Negotiations began in 1925 and were complex – given there were more than 6000 property owners involved. In 1926 President Calvin Coolidge signed legislation creating Great Smoky Mountains National Park (along with two other national parks). Once signed it was up to the park boosters to secure the funds to purchase the 150,000 acres before the Department of the Interior would assume responsibility. Even with cash in hand, purchases of the small farms and miscellaneous parcels (some of which had yet to be surveyed and appraised) was a cumbersome and lengthy process. Many landowners were reluctant to leave the only home they’d ever known, and some people – such as John Oliver of the Cades Cove community – fought the park commission through the Tennessee court system.In 1930 the first superintendent of the park arrived, and he formally oversaw the first transfer of land – 158,876 acres deeded to the US government. At long last the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a reality, though it wasn’t until 1934 that the park was officially established. A few years later, in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the national park for the ‘permanent enjoyment of the people’ at the newly created Rockefeller Monument at Newfound Gap.As the Great Depression swept across the nation in the early 1930s, President Roosevelt came up with an innovative solution to put people back to work. He created the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, which would serve two purposes: it would create jobs and it would help in the nation’s reforestation. CCC camps were set up across the country, with 22 created inside the national park. Around 4000 men, mostly aged 18 to 20, would work for the corps, which ran from 1933 to 1942. The men worked a variety of jobs: planting trees, building bridges and footpaths, erecting fire towers and clearing fire roads. Their handwork is still all over Great Smoky Mountains, including shelters built along the AT where hikers still overnight.Buy the Great Smoky Mountains National Park guide ahead of your trip.

  • Nature Reserve

    In our collective consciousness, Alaska represents the concept of the raw wilderness. But that untamed perception can be as much a deterrent as a draw. For many travelers, in-depth exploration of this American frontier is a daunting task. EnterDenali National Park & Preserve: a parcel of land that's easily accessible without losing its primeval feel.Things to do in Denali National ParkHere, you can peer at a grizzly bear, moose, caribou, or even wolves, all from the comfort of a bus. On the other hand, if independent exploration is your thing, you can trek into 6 million acres of tundra, boreal forest and ice-capped mountains – a space larger than Massachusetts. This all lies in the shadow of Denali, once known as Mt McKinley and to native Athabascans as the Great One. Denali, at 20,308ft (6190m) is North America’s highest peak, rightly celebrated as an icon of all that is awesome and wild in a state where those adjectives are ubiquitous.DenaliOf course the park's massive signature summit and namesake is a must-see. But despite its lofty heights, the mountain is not visible from the park entrance or the nearby campgrounds and hotel. Your first glimpse of it comes between Mile 9 and Mile 11 on Park Road – if you’re blessed with a clear day.What makes Denali one of the world’s great scenic mountains isn't its visual presence in the park, but the sheer independent rise of its bulk. Denali begins at a base of just 2000ft, which means that on a clear day you will be transfixed by over 18,000 feet of ascending rock, ice and snow. By contrast, Mt Everest, no slouch itself when it comes to memorable vistas, only rises 12,000ft from its base on the Tibetan Plateau.If you’re a seasoned alpinist you can mount an expedition to the summit yourself, or be among the 25% of Denali climbers who are part of guided ascents. If you’re looking for a local guiding company, try Alaska Mountaineering School, which charges $8300 to lead you up the mountain. Another acclaimed company with a high success rate is Seattle-based Alpine Ascents. Its trips start at $8400 excluding meals, lodging and flights to Alaska. Book at least a year in advance.WildlifeBecause hunting has never been allowed in the park, professional photographers refer to animals in Denali as "approachable wildlife." That means bear, moose, Dall sheep and caribou aren’t as skittish here as in other regions of the state. For this reason, and because Park Rd was built to maximize the chances of seeing wildlife by traversing high open ground, the park is an excellent place to view a variety of animals.On board the park shuttle buses, your fellow passengers will be armed with binoculars and cameras to help scour the terrain for animals, most of which are so accustomed to the rambling buses that they rarely run and hide. When someone spots something and yells "Stop!," the driver will pull over for viewing and picture taking. The best wildlife watching is on the first morning bus.HikingIf you’ve never veered off the beaten path, consider launching your trail-free hiking career in Denali National Park & Preserve.In most national parks in North America, hikers are constantly reminded to stay on marked trails in order to prevent soil erosion, deter damage to flora and fauna, and minimize the risk of getting lost. But Alaska – being Alaska – operates a little differently. Since most national parks in the state don’t have an extensive network of marked trails, visitors are actively encouraged to get off the beaten track and explore the backcountry on their own.Denali’s 92-mile-long Park Road provides an excellent transport link into the depths of the park with regular hop-on, hop-off shuttle buses plying the route. Additionally, thanks to its high altitude, most of the park is above the treeline, allowing hikers to enjoy broad vistas across obstacle-free tundra. Not only does this mean Park Rd will be rarely out of sight (even when it’s 5 miles away), it also prevents any surprise encounters with wildlife.Regardless of where you’re headed, remember that 5 miles is a full-day trip for the average backpacker in Denali’s backcountry. A good compromise for those unsure of entering the backcountry on their own is to take a ranger-ledDiscovery Hike: hiking without a trail but with a guide. To join a ranger on an easy, guided stroll (ranging from 30 minutes to 2½ hours) along the park’s entrance-area trails, check out the schedule at theDenali Visitor Center. There are also four hikes in the park entrance area that can be accessed from the Wilderness Access Center (WAC).Eielson Visitor CenterEielson Visitor Center, on the far side of Thorofare Pass (3900ft), is the most common turning-around point for day trippers taking the shuttle (an eight-hour round-trip from the park entrance). This remote outpost is built directly into the tundra slopes and the mountain seems to almost loom over you from the observation decks. Inside there’s a massive panorama to give you an idea of the mountain’s topography, as well as more utilitarian features such as toilets and potable water. The 7400-sq-ft facility cost around $9.2 million to build, and features several green design elements, including solar and hydroelectric power.You'll also find two steep trails – one that leads up to ridge lines that tower over the park, and one that plunges to a riverbed where wildlife spottings are not uncommon (and sometimes far too close for comfort). Two ranger-led hikes are offered daily in summer: a two-hour, two-mile alpine hike, starting at noon and heading up the ridge behind the facilities; and an easier one-hour, 0.5-mile loop, starting at 1pm.Polychrome PassThis scenic area, at 3500ft, has views of the Toklat River to the south. Polychrome Pass Overlook, which is a regular stop on Denali tour- and shuttle-bus routes, gets its name from the multicolored hues of the local rock faces. There's relatively easy access to ridge trails if you want to hike at higher altitudes.Denali's sled dogsDenali is the only US national park where rangers conduct winter patrols with dog teams. In summer the huskies serve a different purpose: amusing and educating the legions of tourists who sign up for the park’s free daily tours of the sled-dog kennels, as well as dog demonstrations. During warm months, the dogs briefly pull rangers in an ATV for the crowds.The 40-minute show takes place at park headquarters; free buses head there from theDenali Visitor Center, departing 40 minutes before each starting time. These demonstrations are incredibly popular – there's no cap on visitors, so just plan on experiencing crowds. Watching the dogs literally jump for joy when it's their turn to pull the ATV. It's clear that they not only love running and pulling – they live for the experience.The Stampede Trail and the Magic BusThe Stampede Trail was an overgrown, semi-abandoned mining road in April 1992 when an idealistic 24-year-old wanderer called Chris McCandless made camp in an abandoned bus west of Healy, equipped with little more than a rifle, 10lb of rice and a copy of Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man in his bag. His quest: to attempt to survive on his own in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness.McCandless’ death a few months later, in August 1992, was famously chronicled in the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer in 1996. But it was Sean Penn’s cinematic rendering of the book in 2007 that brought the story to international attention and turned the Stampede Trail and the so-called "Magic Bus" into a pilgrimage site for a stream of romantic young backpackers.The deluge of hikers has led to problems. Thanks to two dangerous river crossings along the Stampede Trail’s muddy if relatively flat route, some of the more amateurish hikers have found they've bitten off more than they can chew. As a result, search-and-rescue teams are called out five or six times a year to aid stranded or disorientated travelers and, in 2010, a Swiss woman tragically drowned while trying to cross the Teklanika River.Today the Magic Bus – a 1946 International Harvester (number 142) abandoned by road builders in 1961 – has been moved to the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, but areplica of bus 142 sits outside the 49th State Brewing Company in Healy. You can still hike the Stampede Trail, however, which begins 2 miles north of Healy (the first 8 miles are accessible in a vehicle).Go prepared, preferably in a group, and take extreme precautions when crossing the Savage and Teklanika Rivers (and if they’re flowing high, don’t cross them at all). Bears are common in the area and the mosquitoes are savage. Alternatively, you can take an ATV tour along the trail in summer, or head out in winter on a dogsledding trip from EarthSong Lodge.Dining in Denali49th State Brewing CompanyYou can have the best evening out in Denali at 49th State Brewing Company, a multifarious place which is 1) a brewpub brewing its own fine ales; 2) a wonderful flame-grilled restaurant; 3) a live-music venue; and 4) a dedicated purveyor of dozens of whiskeys. A celebratory atmosphere is generated at the communal tables both inside and out, where fun games shorten the wait for your food. Brewery tours with free tastings take place on Fridays at 4pm.229 ParksSouth of McKinley Village, a stylish timber-frame hideaway called 229 Parks is quintessentially modern Alaskan: locally owned, organic and fervently committed to both the community and environment. Everything is made on-site, including the bread and butter, and the menu changes daily, though it usually features local game dishes and a veritable cornucopia of vegetarian options. And don’t worry if you can’t finish every mouthful: scraps go to feed local sled dogs. Reservations definitely recommended.Prospector's Pizzeria and AlehouseProspector's is perennially busy and with good reason! Set in the Old Northern Lights Theater building, this cavernous alehouse turned pizza parlor has quickly become one of the most popular eating establishments in the park area. In addition to a menu with two-dozen oven-baked pizza choices, there are some 50 beers available on tap from almost all of Alaska’s small breweries.Moose-AKasThere are lots of young Eastern Europeans working the tourism season in Alaska, and this restaurant is testimony to the fact. Started by a Serbian former season worker turned American, Moose-AKa's serves fried crepes, schnitzel, Russian salad, stuffed peppers and of course, moussaka. It's vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, and a great departure from the usual bar food.Denali NationalPark hotels, hostels, camping, and lodgesAside from a few options in the community of Kantishna, lodgings are generally not available inside park boundaries, so if you want overnight shelter within the park you’ll need a tent or RV (recreational vehicle). That said, there are a lot of unique options close to the park well worth booking. You should definitely reserve something in midsummer – even if it’s just a campsite – before showing up. Note the Denali Borough charges a 7% accommodations tax on top of listed prices (except for campsites).The Earthsong LodgeNorth of Healy, off Mile 251 on the George Parks Hwy, this spotlessly clean lodge is pretty much on its own in green fields above the treeline. The private-bath cabins have an appealing at-home styling, with decorative touches such as sprays of wildflowers and hand-carved ornaments.Breakfast and dinner are available in the adjacentHenry's Coffeehouseand there are sleddog demos, a nightly slide show and dog-sled and cross-country-skiing tours in winter. The lodge is just a short climb away from stunning views of the mountain, and just in case you wanted to know more about that peak, proprietor Jon Nierenberg, a former Denali ranger, quite literally wrote the book on hiking in the park’s backcountry.Carlo Creek LodgeThe 32-acre grounds here, nestled amidst the mountains, are nothing short of spectacular, and the hand-hewn log cabins are filled with genuine old-Alaskan charm. Maintained by the descendants of the original homesteaders who settled this scenic little plot by the creek, the lodge has a fresh feel but still a healthy respect for tradition. Communal amenities include a laundry room, spiffy shower block, barbecue and cooking areas.Denali Mountain Morning HostelPerched beside the gurgling Carlo Creek, this is the area’s only true hostel. That's cool – it makes up in quality for a lack of hostel quantity. The setting is a dream – mountains to one side, a stream running through it all. The hostel features a hodgepodge of tent-cabins, log cabins and platform tents. Only open during summer. There’s a fire pit, and visitors can cook meals and swap tales in the "octagon" – the hostel’s common area. Laundry facilities are available and the hostel offers free shuttle services to/from the park's Wilderness Access Center throughout the day.Wonder Lake CampgroundThis is the jewel of Denali campgrounds, thanks to its eye-popping views of the mountain. The facility has 28 sites for tents only, but does offer flush toilets and piped-in water. If you’re lucky enough to reserve a site, book it for three nights and then pray that Denali appears during one of the days you’re there. Note that there is a $6 registration fee added on top of the camp fee.Camp DenaliVerging on legendary, Camp Denali has been the gold standard among Kantishna lodges for the last half century. Widely spread across a ridgeline, the camp’s simple, comfortable cabins elegantly complement the backcountry experience while minimizing impact on the natural world. Think of it as luxury camping, with gourmet meals, guided hikes, free bicycle and canoe rentals, killer views of the mountain, and staff so devoted to Denali that you’ll come away feeling like the beneficiary of a precious gift. If you can't handle the outhouses or the seven-minute walk to the bathroom, book the nearby, affiliated North Face Lodge with en-suite rooms for the same price.Denali Dome Home B&BThis is not a yurt but a huge, intriguing geodesic house on a 5-acre lot, offering a fantastic B&B experience. There are seven modern rooms (with partial antique furnishings), an open common area with fireplace, and a small business area. Also: it's a dome home! How cool is that? The owners are absolute oracles of wisdom when it comes to Denali, and do a bang-up job with breakfast. They also offer car rental.Tips for visitorsWhen to visitThe summer months from early June until the second week after Labor Dayis the main visiting season, when shuttle and tour buses operate and ranger-led activities are plentiful. Summer itself has many mini-seasons: during June you may see caribou, moose and Dall sheep calving, and alpine-zone wildflowers blooming.The park is at its most accessible in July, while in August, autumn colors start creeping in. In September, moose rut and the northern lights begin to make their presence known. Also, mosquitoes start thinning out. During the spring and fall, visitors may drive to Mile 30, but only until snow closes the roads, which can be as early as October and last until April.Also, if you swing by Cannabis Cache to pick up a smokeable stash, don't forget that Denali National Park is federal land and cannabis is only legal in Alaska. Leave your weed at the hotel and don't run afoul of the park rangers.Getting orientedThe park entrance area, where most visitors congregate, extends a scant 4 miles up Park Road. It’s here you’ll find the park headquarters, visitor center and main campground, as well as theWilderness Access Center, where you pay your park entrance fee and arrange campsites and shuttle-bus bookings to take you further into the park. Across the lot from the WAC sits theBackcountry Information Center, where backpackers get backcountry permits and bear-proof food containers.The Denali visitor center is the place to come for an executive summary of Denali National Park & Preserve, with quality displays on the area’s natural and human history. Every half hour in the theater, the beautifully photographed, unnarrated film Heartbeats of Denali provides a peek at the park’s wildlife and scenery. You can also pick up a selection of park literature here, including the NPS’ indispensable Alpenglow booklet, which functions as a user’s manual to Denali.The Park RoadA straight shot into the heart of Denali, Park Road is also the jumping-off point for most hikes. It begins at George Parks Highwayand winds 92 miles through the heart of the park, ending at Kantishna, the site of several wilderness lodges. After that the road passes the Savage River (Mile 14) – which has an established trail alongside the river – and then dips into the Sanctuary and Teklanika River valleys. Both these rivers are in excellent hiking areas, and three of the five backcountry campgrounds lie along them.Park Road continues past rivers, backcountry campgrounds, overlooks and mountain passes that afford stunning views on those rare clear days. Kantishna (Mile 90) is mainly a destination for people staying in the area’s private lodges. The buses turn around here, and begin the long trip back to theWilderness Access Center.Backcountry campingPermits are needed if you want to camp overnight and you can obtain these at theBackcountry Information Center, where you’ll also find wall maps with the unit outlines and a quota board indicating the number of vacancies in each. Permits are issued only a day in advance, and the most popular units fill up fast. It pays to be flexible: decide which areas you’re aiming for, and be prepared to take any zone that’s open. If you’re picky, you might have to wait several days.The history of Denali National ParkThe region that is now Denali National Park has been home to humans for over 11,000 years. For Athabascan people, this was a fertile hunting ground where the tribe would reliably encounterDall sheep, caribou, moose, and even grizzlies. It was also game that attracted white settlers in the early 20th century, after gold was found near Kantishna in 1905 and big game hunters followed the miners' stampede. ConservationistCharles Alexander Sheldonbegan work the year following Kantishna's gold boom to protect the park's wildlife from the kind of wholesale hunting frenzy that decimated bison herds in across the Great Plains.Sheldon mounted a campaign, but it was a long play to get what was then known as Mt McKinley declared a national park. The concept of national parks – and conservation in general – were still new. Yellowstone National Park was just 34 years oldand though Mesa Verde had just entered the club, it had been rammed through by President Teddy Roosevelt using hiscontroversial Federal Antiquities Act of 1906. The kind of archeological discoveries found in Chaco Canyon were scant in the remote Alaskan backcountry. Instead, Sheldon turned to another invention of Roosevelt's – theBoone and Crockett Club, a conservation group dedicated to preserving wildlife and habitat for regulated hunting.The Boone and Crockett Club helped persuade Alaska's representatives and the Department of the Interior that Denali needed official protection as a national park. It wasn't until 1921 that the process of lobbying and legislating was complete. In 1923, when the railroad first arrived in Denali, 36 visitors enjoyed the splendor of the brand new park.Nowadays some 400,000 visitors are received annually.That's not the only change that Denali National Park has seen over the last century of its existence, however. As a result of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the park was enlarged by 4 million acres, and renamed Denali National Park & Preserve. However, it wasn't until 2015 that the name of the mountain itself was restored to Denali by President Barack Obama after almost 120 years as Mt. McKinley.

    (Video) Lonely Planet - Southwest USA with Justin Shapiro

  • National Park

    Glacier National Park

    The rival of any of the United States' most spectacular national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park is full of jagged peaks produced by dramatic geologic thrust faults and carved by ancient ice. But its mountains and dense forests are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg here – Glacier boasts deep ongoing ties to Indigenous tribes, one of the finest scenic parkways in the whole National Parks system,historic 'parkitecture' lodges and740 miles of hiking trails punctuated by wandering grizzlies and moose.Highlights of Glacier National ParkGlacier's GlaciersMany are surprised to learn that the park's current number of glaciers – 26 (35 were identified and named in 1966) – is significantly less than other American national parks, including the North Cascades (with over 300) and Mt Rainier (with 25 on one mountain). Today's visitors could be some of the last to actually see a glacier in the park. Current figures suggest that, if current warming trends continue, the park could be glacier-free by 2030.Head to Jackson Glacier Overlook for an easy-access vantage point. This popular pull-over, located a short walk from the Gunsight Pass trailhead, offers telescopic views of the park’s fifth-largest glacier, which sits close to its eponymous 10,052ft peak – one of the park's highest.Going-to-the-Sun RoadA strong contender for the most spectacular road in America, the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road was built for the express purpose of giving visitors a way to explore the park's interior without having to hike. This marvel of engineering is a national historic landmark that crosses Logan Pass (6,646ft) and is flanked by hiking trails, waterfalls and endless views. The opening of the road marks the official start of the park's crowded summer season.Logan PassPerched above the tree line, atop the wind-lashed Continental Divide, and blocked by snow for most of the year, Logan Pass– named for William R Logan, Glacier’s first superintendent – is the park’s highest navigable point by road. Two trails, Hidden Lake Overlook, which continues on to Hidden Lake itself, and Highline, lead out from here. Views are stupendous; the parking situation, however, is not – you might spend a lot of time searching for a spot during peak hours.Two Medicine ValleyBefore the building of Going-to-the-Sun Road in the 1930s, the Two Medicine Valley was one of the park’s most accessible hubs, situated a mere 12 miles by horseback from the Great Northern Railway and the newly inaugurated Glacier Park Lodge. Famous for its healthy bear population and deeply imbued with Indigenous beliefs, the region is less visited these days, though it has lost none of its haunting beauty.Located around 3 miles to the northwest, 8020ft Triple Divide Peak marks the hydrologic apex of the North American continent. Empty a bucket of water on its summit and it will run into three separate oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic.HikesThere are nearly a thousand miles of hiking trails in Glacier National Park, from short jaunts just off Going-to-the-Sun Road to epic backpacking excursions into bear country. Here are a few of the trail highlights:The Highline TrailA Glacier classic, the Highline Trail contours across the face of the famous Garden Wall to Granite Park Chalet – one of two historic lodges only accessible by trail. The summer slopes are covered with alpine plants and wildflowers while the views are nothing short of stupendous. With only 800ft elevation gain over 7.6 miles, the treats come with minimal sweat.The Iceberg Lake TrailDeservedly, one of the most popular of Glacier's hikes, this 9 mile there-and-back takes you to the eponymous deep glacial cirque surrounded by 914m vertical walls. The sight of icebergs floating in the lake's still waters in the middle of summer is breathtaking. The ascent above Many Glacier Valley is fairly gentle with awesome views and passes meadows filled with wildflowers.Sun Point to Virginia FallsHandily served by the free park shuttle, myriad trailheads along the eastern side of Going-to-the-Sun Road offer plenty of short interlinking hikes, a number of which can be pooled together to make up a decent morning or afternoon ramble.If you take the busySt Mary FallsTrail, you’ll climb undemanding switchbacks through the trees to the valley’s most picturesque falls, set amid colorful foliage on St Mary River. Beyond here, a trail branches along Virginia Creek, past a narrow gorge, to mist-shrouded (and quieter)Virginia Fallsat the foot of a hanging valley. It’s approximately 7 miles round-trip to Virginia Falls and back. The easy hike takes about four hours.Piegan PassA popular hike among Glacier stalwarts, this trail starts on Going-to-the-Sun Road at a handy shuttle stop on Siyeh Bend just east of Logan Pass and deposits you in Glacier’s mystic heart, Many Glacier, with transport connections back to St Mary or even Whitefish. It also bisects colorful Preston Park, one of the region’s prettiest and most jubilant alpine meadows. The 12.8-mile trail (allow six hours) starts at the Siyeh Bend shuttle stop.Dawson-Pitamakan LoopThis spectacular 18.8-mile hike along exposed mountain ridges crosses the Continental Divide twice and can be squeezed into a day for the ambitious and fit or, alternatively, tackled over two or three days with nights at backcounty campgrounds. Blessed with two spectacular mountain passes and teeming with myriad plant and animal life, including grizzly bears, this is often touted by park rangers as being one of Glacier’s hiking highlights.Places to stay near Glacier National ParkGlacier's classic 'parkitecture' lodges – Many Glacier Hotel, Lake McDonald Lodge and Glacier Park Lodge – are living, breathing, functioning artifacts of another – more leisurely – era, when travelers to this wilderness park arrived by train and ventured into the backcountry on horseback.But that's not the only option for a place to stay in Glacier National Park. There are also beloved back-country chalets, numerous campgrounds for RV travelers and tent campers, and also motel-style accommodations in and around the park. These are a few of the best:LodgesThese early 20th-century creations were built with Swiss-chalet features and prototypical Wild West elements. Today they seem to consciously and appealingly conjure up a romantic, almost mythic, vision of rustic comfort – ideal reflections of the beautiful scenery on their doorsteps.Glacier Park LodgeSet in attractive, perfectly manicured flower-filled grounds overlooking Montana’s oldest golf course, this historic 1914 lodge was built in the classic national-park tradition, with a splendid open-plan lobby supported by lofty 900-year-old Douglas fir timbers (imported from Washington State). Eye-catching Native American artwork adorns the communal areas, and a full-sized tipi is wedged incongruously onto a 2nd-floor balcony.In keeping with national-park tradition, the rooms here are ‘rustic’ with no TVs or air-conditioning. Rocking chairs are dispersed inside, and out on the shaded porch where the views of the Glacier peaks are worth the price of admission alone; the pool out back has little shade. Two restaurants and a bar are also open to nonguests.Lake McDonald LodgeFronting luminous Lake McDonald and built in classic US 'parkitecture' style, the lodge welcomes its guests through a more mundane backdoor setting – they originally disembarked from a boat on the lakeside. Small, comfortably rustic rooms are complemented by cottages and a 1950s motel.Built on the site of an earlier lodge commissioned by park pioneer George Snyder in the 1890s, the present building was constructed in 1913 and rooms remain sans air-conditioning and television – it's worth requesting one of the more than two dozen rooms and cabins renovated for the 2016 season. Deluxe ones even boast some boutique stylings, including tiled bathrooms, extremely comfy king-sized beds and a touch of art. Two restaurants are on-site and evening ranger programs are held nightly in the summer. The lakefront location is fairly ideal and close to trailheads on Going-to-the-Sun Road.Many Glacier HotelEnjoying the most wondrous setting in the park, this massive, Swiss chalet–inspired lodge (some of the male staff wear lederhosen) commands the northeastern shore of Swiftcurrent Lake. It was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1915, and the comfortable, if rustic, rooms have been updated (restoration work continues) over the last 15 years. The deluxe rooms feature boutique-style elements, including contemporary tiled bathrooms.The raised stone hearth with a unique chimney system from the 1940s marks the center of the large lobby and lounge area where guests gather to take in the shimmering snow and glacier-capped peaks (anyone can try out the lobby piano circa 1877). Some of the park's most iconic hikes leave from nearby. Severalrestaurantsare part of the complex, and hikers can stock up on food and other supplies at the cafe and shop downstairs.Historic ChaletsGranite Park ChaletA popular stopping point for hikers on the Swiftcurrent Pass and Highline trails, this very basic chalet (pit toilets) dates back to the park's early 20th-century heyday. A rustic kitchen is available for use (with propane-powered stoves), though you must bring and prepare your own food. Snacks and freeze-dried meals are available for purchase. Twelve guest rooms sleep from two to six people each.Bedding costs $25 extra per person. Book in advance as it gets busy, and remember to bring as much of your own water as possible (bottled water and sodas are available to buy). Reservations should be made online.Sperry ChaletConstructed by the Great Northern Railway in 1914, much of this 17-room historic Swiss-style chalet burned down in a 2017 fire, but its historic features were maintained in the rebuild. It's a good three-hour hike from the nearest road, and guests must either walk or horseback ride here via an ascending 6.5-mile trail that begins at Lake McDonald Lodge.With no lights, heat or water, this was part of an old accommodations network that once spanned the park before the construction of Going-to-the-Sun Road, Sperry offers phenomenal views. Be sure to bring a flashlight for midnight trips to the outdoor toilets. Rooms are private; walls, however, are paper thin. Rates include three excellent meals (box lunches are available) and mules can be hired to carry gear.Belton ChaletBuilt and opened the same year as the national park (1910), this Swiss chalet overlooking the railroad tracks in West Glacier was Glacier’s first tourist hotel. Other incarnations followed, including time as a pizza parlor, and it lay rotting until a late-1990s refurb, which dusted off 25 traditional yet elegant rooms, arts-and-crafts-style furnishings, a spa and a celebrated taproom. Two stand-alone cottages and a fairly spectacular cabin, in the Old West rustic vernacular, are open year-round and are ideal for families.CampingThere are a lot of places to pitch a tent or park an RV in Glacier National Park. Here are a few of the most popular:Apgar CampgroundThis large wooded campground, the park's largest, is a good choice for its proximity to the conveniences of Apgar Village and West Glacier, as well as for being only a short stroll to Lake McDonald. It feels, however, far from a wilderness experience.Avalanche Creek CampgroundThis lush campground abutting the park’s old-growth cedar forest gets more rainfall than most. Some sites are overshadowed by old stands of hemlock, cedar and Douglas fir, but you’re close to Lake McDonald and right in the path of a couple of very popular trailheads. Expect no quiet or privacy during the daytime.Many Glacier CampgroundWith access to phenomenal trails, this heavily wooded campground is one of the park’s most popular. It lies within strolling distance of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn complex, which includes a restaurant, hot showers, a laundry and camp store. Primitive camping available through the end of October. Half of the sites are reservable, including numbers 94 and 92, which are the best spots along the river.Bowman Lake CampgroundRarely full, this campground 6 miles up Inside North Fork Rd from Polebridge offers very spacious sites in forested grounds, and beautiful Bowman Lake is only steps away. It has a visitors information tent with reference books and local hiking information. The road from Polebridge can be especially rough after heavy rain. Also offers primitive camping through to end of October.Sprague Creek CampgroundOff Going-to-the-Sun Road on the shore of Lake McDonald, the park’s smallest campground draws mostly tents – no vehicles over 21ft are allowed – and feels more intimate than many of the park’s other options, at least at night when the passing traffic goes to bed. Arrive early to claim a site overlooking the lake. Hiker/biker sites $5.The Indigenous history of Glacier National ParkFor thousands of years, the Blackfeet (Niitsitapi), Salish, and Kootenai tribes called Glacier National Park home, worshiping at sacred sites including Two Medicine and Chief Mountain that remain integral to their creation stories. After initial contact with white settlers when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the region in, the Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenaisuffered during the westward expansion of white settlers in the early 19th century and the near extinction of the buffalo that was part of the United States' Indian removal strategy.Relying increasingly on government money, Native Americans had little choice but to agree to one-sided treaties in 1855.The reservation originally included all of the Glacier National Park region east of the Continental Divide; however, the Blackfeet sold a portion of what is now Glacier National Park to the United States government, and in 1910 that land was turned into the eighth national park in the system.Today, approximately 10,000 Blackfeet live on a 3812-sq-mile reservation immediately to the east of the park. The reservation includes important park access points such as St Mary and East Glacierand, despite their dispossession, the land in and around the east side of Glacier holds significant ceremonial and cultural significance.Visiting Glacier National ParkGlacier Park International Airportin Kalispell has year-round service to Salt Lake, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle and Las Vegas, and seasonal service to Atlanta, Oakland, LA, Chicago and Portland. Alaska, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta and United have flights to FCA.Amtrak 'sEmpire Builderstops daily atWest GlacierandEast Glacier Park, with a whistle stop in Browning. Xanterra provides a shuttle (adult $6 to $10, child $3 to $5, 10 to 20 minutes) from West Glacier to their lodges on the west end, and Glacier Park Collection by Pursuit offers shuttles (from $15, one hour) connecting East Glacier Park to St Mary and Whitefish.Glacier National Park runs a free hop-on, hop-offshuttle busfromApgar Transit Centerto St Mary over Going-to-the-Sun Road from July 1 to Labor Day; it stops at all major trailheads. Xanterra concession operates the classic guided Red Bus Tours.If driving a personal vehicle, be prepared for narrow, winding roads, traffic jams, and limited parking at most stops along Going-to-the-Sun Road.When is Glacier National Park open?Although the park remains open year-round, most services are closed between October and mid-May. Nevertheless, visiting the park on snowshoes or cross-country skis in the dead of winter is a memorable experience. Going-to-the-Sun Road opens when they finish plowing, which could be as late as July.The East Side of the park reopened March 18, 2021 after an extended closure by the Blackfeet Reservation to protect the tribe against the COVID-19 pandemic. Campgrounds, certain roads, lake access, and other park features are being reopened slowly on a case-by-case basis. Definitely check the Glacier National Park website for the latest updates as the park opens back up.Visitor CentersThe LEED–certified Apgar Visitor Center with a large parking lot and free Wi-Fi signal is 1½ miles north of West Glacier at the west end of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Catch thefree park shuttlehere for all points along Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass, where you transfer to continue to St Mary Visitor Center.The Logan Pass Visitor Center sits inthe most magnificent setting of all the park's visitor centers, and features park information, interactive exhibits and a good gift shop. TheHidden Lake Overlook TrailandHighlinetrails begin there.AccessibilityMost sights and campgrounds within the parks are wheelchair accessible; for a complete and detailed list, download Glacier's own accessibility brochure (available at any entrance station). It's an excellent source of information on everything from hotels and campgrounds to visitor sites and ranger-led activities.Service animals are allowed in Glacier. All lodging options within Glacier have wheelchair-accessible rooms.Shuttle buses in Glacier all have wheelchair lifts and tie-downs, and the drivers can assist disabled passengers on and off.If you need to make arrangements in advance, call any park visitor center.Glacier National Park produces braille handouts, audio described videos and large print brochures.Discount passes to the parks and national forests are available for people with disabilities.

  • Park

    Grand Teton National Park

    Awesome in their grandeur, the Tetons have captivated the imagination from the moment humans laid eyes on them. While their name is often ascribed to French trappers, another theory is that it wasdubbed for the Thítȟuŋwaŋ band of the Lakota Sioux who inhabited the area long before.The Shoshone were the primary tribe who summered around the Grand Tetons, though they too were forced onto reservations in the 1870s after the establishment of nearby Yellowstone National Park. The Tetons weren't formally mapped until almost two generations after Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery first saw these peaks. It was only in the final decade of the Shoshone's free presence on their ancestral lands that aseries of surveying expeditions passed through, ahead of what would become a steady stream ofwhite settlers.The history of Grand Teton National ParkOne of the men on those late 19th century expeditions was William Henry Jackson, a photographer whose documentation of the landscape helped raise public awareness of the Tetons with potential tourists and politicians back east. Over the next twenty years, influential figures like Presidents Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt took note and made early attempts to protect the Tetons from development, while climbers like Wyoming State Auditor William Owen started a long tradition of outdoor recreation in what was then the Teton Forest Reserve.Despite the growing attention of nascent conservationists and the relatively sparse claims by ranchers and homesteaders, the Tetons weren't designated anational parkin 1929. Much of the Snake River Valley was later donated to the park by John D Rockefeller, who acquired it through secret purchases to skirt the protestations of private land owners in the area who opposed the creation of a national park. Just a couple decades later, however, many locals had forgotten their animosity as a new generation of tourists trickled in via automobile, bringing business to Jackson Hole.Highlights of Grand Teton National ParkToday there's more to see than ever in Grand Teton, whether you're passing through on the way to Yellowstone or planning to dive deep into this corner of the Wyoming backcountry.Mormon RowMormon Row is possibly the most photographed spot in the park – and for good reason. The aged wooden barns and fence rails make a quintessential pastoral scene, perfectly framed by the imposing bulk of the Tetons. The barns and houses were built in the 1890s by Mormon settlers, who farmed the fertile alluvial soil irrigated by miles of hand-dug ditches.Just north of Moose Junction, head east on Antelope Flats Road for 1.5 miles to a three-way intersection and parking area. Landmark buildings are north and south of the intersection.Grand TetonCrowning glory of the park, the dagger-edged Grand Teton (13,775ft/4199m) has taunted many a would-be mountaineer. The first white men to claim to have summited were James Stevenson and Nathanial Langford, part of the 1872 Hayden Geological Survey. However, when William Owen, Franklin Spalding and two others arrived at the top in 1898, they found no evidence of a prior expedition. So they chiseled their names in a boulder, claimed the first ascent, and ignited a dispute that persists today.Jackson Lake DamThis 1916 dam has scenic lake views and paved wheelchair-accessible trails at its southern edge. The Jackson Lake Dam raises the lake level by 39ft, and was paid for by Idaho farmers who still own the irrigation rights to the top 39ft of water. It was reinforced between 1986 and 1989 to withstand earthquakes.Jackson Point OverlookThe best vistas in the area are at Jackson Point Overlook. William Jackson took a famous photograph from this point in 1878, when preparing a single image could take a full hour, using heavy glass plates and a portable studio. The viewpoint is a short walk south from a parking area.Jenny LakeThe scenic heart of the Grand Tetons and the epicenter of the area's crowds,Jenny Lakewas named for the Shoshone wife of early guide and mountain man Beaver Dick Leigh.Don't miss the Jenny Lake Overlook which looks out at the Ribbon Cascade from the tracks of an ancient glacial moraine.Seven miles south of Signal Mountain, theJenny Lake Scenic Drivebranches west to begin Grand Teton'smost picturesque parkway. TheCathedral Group turnoutboasts views of the central Teton spires, known as the Cathedral Group. Interpretive boards illustrate the tectonic slippage visible at the foot ofRockchuck Peak(11,144ft), named for its resident yellow-bellied marmots (aka rock chucks).String Lakeis the most popular picnic spot, with dramatic views of the north face of Teewinot Mountain (12,325ft) and Grand Teton from sandy beaches along its east side. The road becomes one-way beyond String Lake, just before exclusive Jenny Lake Lodge.Oxbow BendOxbow Bend is one of the most beloved spots in the park for tourists packing binoculars, cameras, and telescopes. It's a pretty corner full of wildlife at the foot of Mount Moran wheremoose, elk, sandhill cranes, ospreys, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, blue herons and white pelicans emerge every dawn and dusk.Laurance S Rockefeller PreserveFor solitude coupled with the most stunning views that don't include the Grand, visitors should check out Laurance S Rockefeller Preserve, one of the newer sections of Grand Teton National Park. Once the JY Ranch, an exclusive Rockefeller family retreat, these 3100 acres around Phelps Lake were donated in full by Laurance S Rockefeller in 2001. His grandfather, John D Rockefeller, whodonated some 33,000 acres of former ranchland to Grand Teton National Park.Things to do in Grand Teton National ParkSome 12 imposing glacier-carved summits frame the singular Grand Teton (13,775ft). And while the view is breathtaking from the valley floor, it only gets more impressive on the trail. It's well worth hiking the dramatic canyons of fragrant forest to sublime alpine lakes surrounded by wildflowers in summer. This wilderness is home to bear, moose and elk in number, and played a fundamental role in the history of American alpine climbing.Rock climbingandfishingare also possible.HikingWith almost 250 miles ofhiking trails,options are plentiful. Backcountry-use permits are required for overnight trips.Cascade CanyonUltra-popular, this day hike scales to a gorgeous alpine lake via a gradual climb. From the Jenny Lake western boat dock, it's a 14.4-mile round-trip (18.4 miles without the boat shuttle across the lake) to alpine gem Lake Solitude, but you can turn around earlier and still soak in views.The trail passes popular Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls before climbing Cascade Canyon to the Forks. Go right for Lake Solitude (9035ft). Be mindful of the moose and bear that frequent the area.Teton Crest TrailAn epic 40-mile backcountry ramble over the lofty spine of the range, the Teton Crest offers jaw-dropping views and a fair share of high exposure. This classic four- or five-day route dips in and out of the neighboring Jedediah Smith Wilderness, with numerous "outs" via the canyons and passes that access the trail on either side.Hikers must arrange for a shuttle or have two cars to leave at the start and end points. Camping permits are required. There are many options for starts and stops, but we suggest going in at the String Lake Trailhead.Death CanyonDeath Canyon is one of our favorite hikes – both for the challenge and the astounding scenery. The trail ascends a mile to the Phelps Lake overlook before dropping down into the valley bottom and following Death Canyon.For a tougher add-on with impossibly beautiful views, turn right at the historic ranger cabin onto the Alaska Basin Trail and climb another 3000ft to Static Peak Divide (10,792ft) – the highest trail in Grand Teton National Park.Rafting, paddling, and fishingRafting tripsThere are a number of rafting companies that operate on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. National Park Float Tripsout of the Triangle X Ranch offers dawn, daytime and sunset floats, plus a four-hour early evening float and cookout. Trips run out of Moose. Solitude Float Tripsis a highly recommended rafting company which runs Deadman's Bar-to-Moose trips and sunrise trips, plus shorter 5-mile floats.Canoes and kayaksYou can also rent canoes and kayaks to paddle Jackson Lake andJenny Lake. Signal Mountain Marina on Jackson Lake and the Snake River rents canoes ($25 per hour), kayaks ($20), motorboats (from $42) and pontoon cruisers ($105); gasoline is extra. You can also hire a guide there for fly-fishing on the lake (half-day for two people $312) and scenic Snake River float trips (adult/child US$77/50).Fly fishing and anglingFishing is a Tetons draw, with several species of whitefish and cutthroat, lake and brown trout thriving in local rivers and lakes. Get a license at the Moose Village store, Signal Mountain Lodge or Colter Bay Marina. Anglers must carry a valid Wyoming fishing license. The Snake, Buffalo Fork and Gros Ventre Rivers are closed November 1 to March 31. In general, anglers are limited to six trout per day, with varying size limitations. Get a copy of the park's fishing brochure for details.ClimbingThe Tetons are known for excellent short-route rock climbs, as well as classic longer routes to summits such as Grant Teton, Mt Moran and Mt Owen (12,928ft), all best attempted with an experienced guide.Jenny Lake Ranger Station is the go-to office for climbing information. It sells climbing guidebooks, provides information and has a board showing campsite availability in Garnet Canyon, the gateway to climbs including the technical ascent of Grand Teton. An excellent resource and the spot to meet outdoor partners in crime, the member-supported American Alpine Club's Climbers' Ranch has been a climbing institution since 1970.Winter sportsIn Grand Teton National Park, much is closed for winter. Dates for service openings and closures vary greatly from year to year, depending on snow conditions. Get information on weather, road, ski and avalanche conditions from theJackson Visitor Center. Spur Ranch Log Cabins, which stays open for most of the year, sits close to the center of Moose. There is limited tent and RV camping (December to April 15, US$5) near theColter Bay Visitor Center, though tent sites may be on snow. On the eastern edge of the national park, the 1926 Triangle X Ranch has wood cabins at discount winter rates.Cross country skiingBetween mid-December and mid-March, the park grooms 15 miles of track right under the Tetons' highest peaks, between the Taggart and Bradley Lakes parking area and Signal Mountain. Lanes are available for ski touring, skate skiing and snowshoeing. Grooming takes place two or three times per week. The NPS does not always mark every trail: consult at the ranger station to make sure that the trail you plan to use is well tracked and easy to follow. Remember to yield to passing skiers and those skiing downhill. You can find rental equipment in Jackson.SnowshoeingSnowshoers may use the park'sNordic skiing trails, too. For an easy outing, try Teton Park Rd (closed to traffic in winter). Remember to use the hardpack trail and never walk on ski trails – skiers will thank you for preserving the track!From late December through to mid-March, naturalists lead free two-hour, 1.5-mile snowshoe hikes from the Taggart Lake trailhead three times per week. Traditional wooden snowshoes are available for rental (adult/child US$5/2). The tour is open to eight-year-olds and up.Lodging in Grand Teton National ParkDemand for lodging and camping in Grand Teton is high from Memorial Day (late May) to Labor Day (early September); book lodges well in advance. Accommodations range from basic campgrounds to high-end lodges.LodgesJenny Lake LodgeWorn timbers, down comforters and colorful quilts imbue these elegant cabins with a cozy atmosphere. Jenny Lake Lodge doesn't come cheap, but the Signature Stay package includes breakfast, five-course dinner, bicycle use and guided horseback riding. Rainy days are for hunkering down at the fireplace in the main lodge with a game or book from the stacks.Jackson Lake LodgeWith soft sheets, meandering trails for long walks and enormous picture windows framing the peaks, the Teton's premier lodge is the perfect place to romance. Nearby, you may find the 348 cinder-block cottages overpriced for their viewless, barracks-like arrangement, though renovations have made them pleasant inside. The secluded Moose Pond View cottages feature amazing porch-side panoramas.Even if you aren't staying here, you should stop in to appreciate the lodge's great room with its floor-to-ceiling windows and two massive fireplaces. Jackson Lake Lodge also has a heated pool and pets are allowed ($20 extra).RanchesClimbers' RanchStarted as a refuge for serious climbers and traditionallyrun by the American Alpine Club, therustic log cabins of Climbers' Ranch are now available to hikers, who can take advantage of the spectacular in-park location. There is a bathhouse with showers and a sheltered cook station with locking bins for coolers. Bring your own sleeping bag and pad (bunks are bare, but still a steal).Turpin Meadow RanchFor a true wilderness getaway or some of the best Nordic terrain in the region, check out this luxury dude ranch offering acres of cross-country skiing right outside the cabin door, in addition to fat-bike touring and snowmobiling. In summer there's mountain biking, horseback riding, pack trips and wildlife watching. Turpin Meadow Ranch 's cabins feature smart retro decor and fireplaces.CampingCamping inside the park is permitted in designated campgrounds only and is limited to 14 days (seven days at popular Jenny Lake). Most campgrounds and accommodations are open from early May to early October, depending on the weather conditions. The NPS operates the park's six campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis.Most campsites get snatched up before 11am: Jenny Lake fills much earlier; Gros Ventre usually stays open.Signal Mountain Campground is a popular base because of its central location. Colter Bay, Jenny Lake Campground, and Lizard Creek have tent-only sites reserved for walk-in hikers and ride-in cyclists (US$11-12).Some lesser-known, first-come, first-served sites near the park may have fewer amenities, but they also have openings when NPS campgrounds are bursting, and charge a third to half of the price.Secluded Sheffield Campground is a five-site USFS (US Forest Service) campground, 2.5 miles south of Yellowstone National Park's South Entrance and just south of Flagg Ranch. Cross the Snake River Bridge, then go a half-mile east on a rough dirt road from a subtly signed turnoff. Located 7 miles northeast of Kelly on the shores of Slide Lake, Atherton Creek Campground has 20 sites, drinking water and pit toilets.Eight free, minimally developed, first-come, first-served campgrounds are strung out along the bumpy and unpavedGrassy Lake Rd, which begins just west of the parking lot at Flagg Ranch. The first (and most popular) campground is 1.6 miles along the road and has four riverside campsites.Each of the next three riverside campgrounds, in the 1.5-mile stretch past Soldiers' Meadow, has two sites. The last four campgrounds, spaced out along the next 3.5 miles, are useful for hikes into Yellowstone's southern reaches. All sites have toilets and trash service but no potable water. Camping is only allowed in designated sites.Tips for visitorsPark permits (hiker or bicycle $20, vehicle $35) are valid for seven days. Alternatively, you can purchase passes including an annual Grand Teton National Park pass (US$70) or the America the Beautiful (all national parks) pass ($80).The map you get at the entry station provides a broad overview, but stop byColter Bay Visitor Centeror theCraig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Centerfor more detailed hiking and backcountry information.Permits are required for backcountry camping, and can be reserved at in advance (US$45) from January to May 15, or in person ($35) the day before your trip. Equipment can be rented or purchased in Moose atAdventure SportsorMoosely Mountaineering.

  • National Park

    Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite means "killer" in the Indigenous Miwok language, and in today's parlance it's indeed an impressive, awesome site.Everywhere you look in Yosemite, there are lofty granite domes, sheer cliffs, turbulent rivers, glassy lakes, hypnotizing waterfalls and serene meadows – not to mention spectacular viewpoints to take in all of these and more in a panoramic vision.Thethird US national park, Yosemite perhaps best exemplifies the kind of place worth preserving for recreation and conservation, fromthe park's most recognizable natural features such as Half Dome, El Capitan, Mariposa Grove, and Yosemite Falls, to the summer paradises of Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point. It's no wonder that over 5 million visitors arrive every year to take in Yosemite's grandeur.It was here that conservationist John Muir fell hard for mother nature, penning rhapsodic dispatches on the beauty of the Sierra Nevada that contributed to its preservation as a national park.Yosemite not only stirred Muir, it has alsocaptivatedgenerations of rock climbers who continue to flock to the park's challenging routes and rock faces each year. And the park continues to inspire new ways of considering and experiencing the outdoors – for example, therelatively new sport of slacklining was born in Yosemite from tired climbers trying new tricks in between projects.Activities in YosemiteThere are over 800 miles of trails, from easy half-milestrolls along the valley floor to overnight backpacking expeditions and thru-hikes. There are 13 campgrounds as well as a number of backcountry sites, with Camp 4 and Tuolumne Meadows attracting close-knit communities of climbers in the summer months.Backpacks, tents and other equipment can be rented from the Yosemite Mountaineering School.Horseback riding, swimming, rafting and kayaking, skiing, fishing, and even golf and hang gliding can be found here, too. Plus there's Yosemite's after-dark entertainments –in addition to events at the Yosemite Theater, other activities scheduled year-round include campfire programs, children’s photo walks, twilight strolls, night-sky watching, and ranger talks and slide shows. The tavern at the Evergreen Lodge has live bands some weekends, too.Best views of Yosemite ValleyThe park’s crown jewel, the spectacular, meadow-carpeted Yosemite Valley stretches 7 miles long, bisected by the rippling Merced River and hemmed in by some of the most majestic chunks of granite anywhere on earth. Ribbons of water, including some of the highest waterfalls in the US, fall dramatically before crashing in thunderous displays. The counterpoint to the sublime natural scene is bustling Yosemite Village.The best all-around photo op of the Valley can be had from Tunnel View, a large, busy parking lot and viewpoint at the east end of Wawona Tunnel, on Hwy 41. It’s just a short drive from the Valley floor. The vista encompasses most of the Valley’s icons: El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right, the green Valley floor below, and glorious Half Dome front and center. This viewpoint is often mistakenly called Inspiration Point. That point was on an old park road and is now reachable via a steep hike from the Tunnel View parking lot.The second view, known as Valley View, is a good one to hit on your way out. It offers a bottom-up (rather than top-down) view of the Valley and is a lovely spot to dip your toes in the Merced River and bid farewell to sights like Bridalveil Fall, Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan. Look carefully to spot the tip-top of Half Dome in the distance. As you head west out of the Valley on Northside Dr, look for the Valley View turnout (roadside marker V11), just over a mile past El Capitan Meadow.Near the base of Yosemite Falls, the collection of buildings known as Yosemite Valley Lodge includes modern, motel-like accommodations, restaurants, including the recently upgradedBase Camp eateryand Starbucks, shops, abar, abicycle-rental stand, apool, atour deskand other amenities. The amphitheater hosts regular evening programs, and the pool is open to the public.TheYosemite Valley shuttle busstops right out front, as do Yosemite Area Regional Transport System (YARTS) buses. All guided tram tours, ski shuttles and hiker buses also leave from here; tickets are available from the tour desk in the lobby.Climbing El CapitanAt nearly 3600ft from base to summit, El Capitan ranks as one of the world’s largest granite monoliths. Its sheer face makes it a world-class destination for experienced climbers, and one that wasn’t topped until 1958. Since then, it’s been inundated. Look closely and you’ll probably spot climbers reckoning with El Cap’s series of cracks and ledges, including the famous ‘Nose.’ At night, park along the road and dim your headlights; once your eyes adjust, you’ll easily make out the pinpricks of headlamps dotting the rock face. Listen, too, for voices.The meadow across from El Capitan is good for watching climbers dangle from granite (you need binoculars for a really good view). Look for the haul bags first – they’re bigger, more colorful and move around more than the climbers, making them easier to spot. As part of the excellent ‘Ask a Climber’ program, climbing rangers set up telescopes at El Capitan Bridge from 12:30pm to 4:30pm (mid-May through mid-October) and answer visitors’ questions. See the Yosemite Guide listing for a schedule.Half DomeRising 8842ft above sea level, and nearly a mile above the valley floor, Half Dome serves as the park’s spiritual centerpiece and stands as one of the most glorious and monumental (not to mention best-known) domes on earth.Its namesake shape is, in fact, an illusion. While from the valley the dome appears to have been neatly sliced in half, from Glacier or Washburn Points you’ll see that it’s actually a thin ridge with a back slope nearly as steep as its fabled facade. As you travel through the park, witness Half Dome’s many faces. For example, from Mirror Lake it presents a powerful form, while from the Panorama Trail it looks somewhat like a big toe poking out above the rocks and trees.Glacier PointConstructed to replace an 1882 wagon road, the modern 16-mile stretch of Glacier Point Rd leads to what many people consider the finest viewpoint in Yosemite. A lofty 3200ft above the valley floor, 7214ft Glacier Point presents one of the park’s most eye-popping vistas and practically puts you at eye level with Half Dome.Lying directly below Glacier Point, Half Dome Village is home to Yosemite Valley’s second-biggest collection of restaurants, stores and overnight accommodations. Originally called Camp Curry, it was founded in 1899 by David and Jennie Curry as a place where everyday visitors could find ‘a good bed and a clean napkin at every meal.’ Starting with just a handful of tents, the camp quickly grew, thanks in large part to David Curry’s entrepreneurial drive and booming personality. One of his biggest promotional schemes was the Firefall, a nightly event and significant tourist draw.Yosemite FallsOne of the world’s most dramatic natural spectacles, Yosemite Falls is a marvel to behold. Naturalist John Muir devoted entire pages to its changing personality, its myriad sounds, its movement with the wind and its transformations between the seasons. No matter where you are when you see it (and it regularly pops into view from all over the Valley), the falls will stop you in your tracks.In spring, when snowmelt gets Yosemite Creek really pumping, the sight is astounding. Another sign of springtime is 'frazil ice', the strange slurry – not exactly ice or snow – that moves like lava from the bottom of the falls under Yosemite Creek bridges. On nights when the falls are full and the moon is bright, especially in May and June, you might spot a ‘moonbow’ (aka lunar rainbow or spraybow). In winter, as the spray freezes midair, an ice or snow cone, depending on its density, forms at the base of the falls and can top out at several hundred feet.To get to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall, get off at shuttle stop 6 (or park in the lot just north of Yosemite Valley Lodge) and join the legions of visitors for the easy quarter-mile stroll. Note that in midsummer, when the snowmelt has dissipated, both the upper and lower falls usually dry up – sometimes to a trickle, other times stopping altogether.Bridalveil FallIn the southwest end of Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Fall tumbles 620ft. The Ahwahneechee people call it Pohono (Spirit of the Puffing Wind), as gusts often blow the fall from side to side, even lifting water back up into the air. This waterfall usually runs year-round, though it’s reduced to a whisper by midsummer. Bring rain gear or expect to get wet when the fall is heavy.Take the seasonal El Capitan shuttle or park at the large lot where Wawona Rd (Hwy 41) meets Southside Dr. From the lot, it’s a quarter-mile walk to the base of the fall. The path is paved, but probably too rough for wheelchairs, and there’s a bit of an uphill at the very end. Avoid climbing on the slippery rocks at its base – no one likes a broken bone. The Yosemite Conservancy is planning to remodel the usually overflowing parking lot and trail access to make it more visitor friendly.If you’d rather walk from the Valley, atrail(part of the Loop Trails) follows Southside Dr, beginning near the Yosemite Heritage Conservation Center and running about 3.8 miles west to the falls.Tuolumne MeadowsAbout 55 miles from Yosemite Valley, 8600ft Tuolumne Meadows is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra. It provides a dazzling contrast to the valley, with its lush fields, clear blue lakes, ragged granite peaks and domes, and cooler temperatures. During July or August, you’ll find a painter’s palette of wildflowers decorating the meadows. Hikers and climbers will find a paradise of options.Satisfying burgers and hot dogs, not to mention a few salads, are served up atTuolumne Meadows Grill. Grab a seat outside at a picnic table.Tuolumne Meadows Storehas everything you need to pack a picnic lunch.Tuolumne Meadows sits along Tioga Rd (Hwy 120) west of the park’s Tioga Pass Entrance. TheTuolumne Meadows Hikers’ Busmakes the trip along Tioga Rd once daily in each direction, and can be used for one-way hikes. There’s also a freeTuolumne Meadows Shuttle, which travels between the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and Olmsted Point, including a stop at Tenaya Lake.The Majestic Yosemite HotelAlmost as iconic as Half Dome itself, the elegant Majestic Yosemite Hotel has drawn well-heeled tourists through its towering doors since 1927. Of course, you needn’t be wealthy in the least to partake of its many charms. In fact, a visit to Yosemite Valley is hardly complete without a stroll through theGreat Lounge(aka the lobby), which is handsomely decorated with leaded glass, sculpted tile, Native American rugs and Turkish kilims.You can relax on the plush but aging couches and stare out the 10 floor-to-ceiling windows, wander into the Solarium, or send the kids into the walk-in fireplace (no longer in use) for a photo. You can even sneak up the back stairs for a peek into the privateTudor Room, which has excellent views over the Great Lounge.The hotel was designed by American architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who also designed Zion Lodge, Bryce Canyon Lodge and Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge. If the hotel’s lobby looks familiar, perhaps it’s because it inspired the lobby of the Overlook Hotel, the ill-fated inn from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.Yosemite Ski AreaThe California ski industry essentially got its start in Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass (now called the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area) was California’s first alpine ski resort. After Yosemite’s All-Year Hwy (now Hwy 140) was completed in 1926 and the Ahwahnee Hotel (now called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) opened its doors the following year, Yosemite Valley quickly became a popular winter destination.When Wawona Tunnel opened in 1933, skiers began congregating at Badger Pass. In 1935, a new lodge opened on Glacier Point Rd, and a newfangled device called ‘the upski’ was installed at the pass. The crude lift consisted of nothing more than two counterbalanced sleds, but it worked, and this place became California’s first alpine ski resort.In winter, a free shuttle bus runs between the Valley and the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area. Also in winter, wilderness permits are available by self-registration at the A-frame building, where the first-aid station and ski patrol are also situated. Rangers usually staff the office from 8am to 5pm.The history of Yosemite National ParkThe Ahwahneechee, a group of Miwok and Paiute peoples, lived in the Yosemite area for around 4000 years before a group of pioneers, most likely led by explorer Joseph Rutherford Walker, came through in 1833. There were an estimated 3000 people living in 22 villages in the valley alone. During the gold-rush era, conflict between the miners and native tribes escalated to the point where a military expedition (the Mariposa Battalion) was dispatched in 1851 to punish the Ahwahneechee, eventually forcing the capitulation of Chief Tenaya and his tribe.Tales of thunderous waterfalls and towering stone columns followed the Mariposa Battalion out of Yosemite and soon spread into the public’s awareness. In 1855, San Francisco entrepreneur James Hutchings organized the first tourist party to the valley. Published accounts of his trip, in which he extolled the area’s untarnished beauty, prompted others to follow, and it wasn’t long before inns and roads began springing up.Alarmed by this development, conservationists petitioned Congress to protect the area – with success. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, which eventually ceded Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to California as a state park. This landmark decision, along with the pioneering efforts of conservationist John Muir, led to a congressional act in 1890 creating Yosemite National Park; this, in turn, helped pave the way for the national-park system that was established in 1916.Yosemite Tickets and ToursAdmission to Yosemite costs $35 per car, $30 per motorcycle, $20 per person on foot or by bicycle.Guided tour packages are offered by a number of third-parties, including some based within the park and some outside its bounds:Yosemite Conservancy - Park-affiliated nonprofit offers multiday courses, custom trips and seminars that are great alternatives to tours.Sierra Club - The national environmental nonprofit has both paid trips and free activity outings sponsored by local chapters.Discover Yosemite Tours - Operates bus tours year-round from Oakhurst, Fish Camp and Bass Lake.Aramark/Yosemite Hospitality - The park’s main concessionaire runs bus and tram tours, including a very popular wheelchair-accessible two-hour Valley Floor Tour and day trips from the Valley to either Glacier Point or Tuolumne Meadows. Stop at the tour and activity desks at Yosemite Valley Lodge, Half Dome Village or Yosemite Village; call 209-372-4386; check; or the Yosemite Guide for information and pricing.Tenaya Lodge - Large family-friendly resort in Fish Camp operates full-day park tours in luxurious Mercedes Benz buses with retractable roofs that allow you to experience the natural sights a little more naturally. Guests of the lodge have priority.Green Tortoise - Runs backpacker-friendly two-day ($300) and three-day ($360) trips to Yosemite from San Francisco where travelers sleep in the converted bus or in campgrounds, cook collectively and choose from activities like hiking, swimming or just hanging out (and there’s always some great hanging out). Prices (which change annually) include most meals and the park entry fee.Incredible Adventures - This outfit uses biodiesel vans for its San Francisco–based tours to Yosemite, from one-day sightseeing tours ($159) to three-day camping tours ($489). Park entry fees and most meals are included, and it provides all cooking and camping gear except sleeping bags.

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  • National Park

    Crater Lake National Park

    The ancient mountain whose remains now form Crater Lake was known to the the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Band of the Snake as Giiwas, or "sacred place." It earned that name after the region's Indigenous people witnessedacatastrophic volcanic explosionaround 7700 years ago, an even that knit itself into their oral histories in such detail that Klamath mythology predicted geological discoveries that weren't made until millennia later.It may be hard to picture now, but Mount Mazamawas a roughly 12,000ft volcanic peak that was heavily glaciered and inactive for many thousands of years until it came back to life. When the top of the mountain blew, itscattered ash for hundreds of miles as flows of superheated pumice solidified into massive banks. These eruptions emptied the magma chambers at the heart of the volcano, and the summit cone collapsed to form the caldera.Sparse forests can still be seen growing in pumice and ash in the Pumice Desert, just north of Crater Lake along North Entrance Rd. Further afield, outside the park, beloved attractions like Umpqua Hot Springs hint at the region's ongoing geologic activity.Slowly over time, snowfall and rain contributed to the lake water – and the purity of the sources combined with the lake's great depth (at 1943ft down, it's the deepest lake in the United States)give it that famous hue. Those gloriously blue waters of Crater Lake reflect surrounding mountain peaks like a giant dark-blue mirror, making for spectacular photographs and breathtaking panoramas.Highlights of Crater Lake National ParkThe park's popular south entrance is open year-round and provides access to Rim Village and Mazama Village, as well as the park headquarters at the Steel Visitors Center. In winter you can only go up to the lake's rim and back down the same way; no other roads are plowed. The north entrance is only open from early June to late October, depending on snowfall.The Rim DriveNo matter what else they get into, most visitors cruise the 33-mile loop Rim Drive, which is open from around June to mid-October and offers over 30 viewpoints as it winds around the edge of Crater Lake. A 7-mile side road leads to thePinnacles, pumice and ash formations carved by erosion into 100ft spires ('hoodoos'). A paved side road on the east side leads to amazing views fromCloudcap Overlook, almost 2000ft above the lake. Without any stops, it takes about an hour to do this drive (but you'll want to stop!).Wizard IslandWhether you're just gazing at Wizard Island from the rim of Crater Lake, or visiting it by boat, it's definitely one of the most prominent features of this national park. The island is actually the top of a cinder cone and rises about 755ft above the surface of the lake. On the island you can hang out and swim or hike up to the top of the cone and circle the rim (2.5 miles round-trip). The Fumarole Trail (1.4 miles roundtrip) leads around the coast along cool lava formations. You'll have to reserve in advance to get aboatshuttle here, only available in summer.ToursOne of the most popular things to do at Crater Lake is to take the informative, ranger-led, two-hour-longCrater Lake Trolleytours. The old-fashioned, wood-paneled vehicle makes five to seven stops and saves you from having to drive and park, plus you get very insightful narration along the way.Two-hourboat toursare also available and require a fairly strenuous 30- to 40-minute hike down the crater to the dock (then back up again). The two-hour tour ($44 per person) takes you around the lake, or includeWizard Island($55 per person) for a chance to swim and hike. You can also just take a shuttle to Wizard Island ($28 round-trip). Reserve, as these are popular.Hiking and snowshoeingCrater Lake has over 90 miles of hiking trails, although some higher ones aren't completely clear of snow enough to hike until late July. The trails closer to Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Village are the busiest but with a little determination and sweat you can lose the crowd to find some spectacular trails and mind-bending views. Wildflowers bloom through the hiking season and the higher the elevation, the later the blooms.In winter, only the southern entrance road to Rim Village is kept plowed to provide access to several Nordic skiing trails. Rentals are unavailable inside the park, so bring skis with you. Only experienced skiers should attempt the dangerous, avalanche-prone loop around Crater Lake, which takes two to three days and requires a backcountry permit from park headquarters. Snowshoes are provided for freeranger-led snowshoe walksin winter. Call ahead for reservations.Mt ScottThis strenuous 5 mile round trip hike takes you to an incredible lake vista atop 8929ft Mt Scott, the highest point in Crate Lake National Park. It starts easily, through a meadow then climbs more steeply the higher (and more out of breath) you get. Because of the high elevation you can expect snow around the top of the trail year-round. It's said that this is the only place in the park where you can get the entire lake in a camera frame. This is also a great place to spot Grouse, Clark's Nut Crackers, Steller's Jays and other birds.Garfield PeakFrom the eastern edge of the Rim Village parking lot, this short but steep 3.4 mile trail leads up 8054ft Garfield Peak to an expansive view of the lake, the Klamath Basin and southern Cascade mountains; in July the slopes are covered with wildflowers. This is one of the most popular hiking trails in Crater Lake but even with the crowds, it's worth it. Expect snow at the upper elevations all season long. Be prepared to get winded by the altitude if you're not acclimatized.Watchman Lookout TowerFor a steep but shorter 1.4 mile hike, trek up to the Watchman, an old 1932 lookout tower on the opposite side of the lake that boasts one of the park's best views – and definitely the best views of Wizard Island. Wear good shoes to traverse a scree area.Expect a colorful palette of wildflowers from late August into October and snow year-round. It can get windy up here so dress in layers.Castle Crest Wildflower Garden TrailFor flower enthusiasts, there's an easy 1-mile nature trail near the Steel Visitors Center that winds through the Castle Crest Wildflower Garden. This trail built in 1929 was one of the first interpretive wildflower trails built in a national park. The path meanders though meadow lined with forest and is dotted with wet meadows with stepping stones and little streams. Surprisingly, it's lightly visited so it's a great place to find some peace and quiet. Do expect mosquitoes. The most flowers bloom early in the season around June.Cleetwood Cove TrailThe very popular and steep 2 miletrail at the northern end of the crater provides the only water access at the cove. Bring a swimsuit to take a dip in the lake (this will be with a whole bunch of other people) and waterproof shoes since the bottom here is sharp rock. Geology nerds will also love the chance to see the volcanic rock that makes up the caldera. Boat tours are available from here but reserve in advance. If the parking lot is full, park along the road (although even that might be full).Pinnacles Overlook TrailThis short 1.2 mile trail is actually outside the park and gives you a glimpse of some different geology. Follow Pinnacles Rd (off of East Rim Dr) and keep going down Pinnacles Rd (about another 6 miles) until you reach Pinnacles Overlook. The colorful spires you look down on are around 100ft high. The spires are fumaroles, where volcanic gas rose up through hot ash deposits, cementing the ash into solid rock. As a side trip, you can also stop and take the Plaikni Falls Trail to Plaikni Falls (off of Pinnacles Rd) before you reach the Pinnacles Overlook Trailhead.Crater Lake Resort, RV park, and campgroundConstruction began on the grand old Crater Lake Lodge in 1909 and it opened in 1915, but it's been steadily evolving ever since, with regular updates and renovations that haven't diminished it as a stunning example of the classic "parksitecture" style that first welcomed tourists to the country's earliest National Parks. Still, the intense winter weather conditions on the mountain took their toll, and theLodge was almost razed in the 1970s until the local community rallied to have it added to the National Register of Historic Places.An extensive retrofitting in the early 1990s saved the Lodge, andtoday it boasts 71 simple but comfortable rooms – don't expect TV or a telephone. It'sthe common areas that are most impressive – large stone fireplaces, a fine dining room, rustic leather sofas and a spectacular view of Crater Lake from the patio are what make this place really special.Park lodging is closed mid-October to late May, depending on snowfall.Cabins and camping in Mazama Village are another option for lodging.Open approximately mid-June through September or October (depending on the weather), this is the park's main campground. The 40 pleasant cabin rooms (no TV or telephone) are located in attractive four-plex buildings. Mazama Village is 7 miles from Crater Lake, with a small grocery store and gas pump nearby. There are over 200 wooded camp sites, too, with showers and a laundry; Some sites are first come, first served. Whether you're pitching a tent or posting up in a cabin, it's wise to reserve as early as possible.Other thanCrater Lake Lodgeand Mazama Village, the nearest non-camping accommodations are 20 to 40 miles away. Fort Klamath has several good lodgings. Union Creek, Prospect, Diamond Lake and Lemolo Lake all have nice, woodsy places to stay. In particular, the lodge at Diamond Lake is a classic 1920s alpine lake retreat that's a little worn around the edges but still hints at century-old glam. There's lots of accommodations in Medford, Roseburg and Klamath Falls, too.Visiting Crate r LakeMost people visit Crater Lake by car; it's wise to carry chains in winter. The north entrance and most of the roads inside the park are closed from November usually until June. Hwy 62 and the 4-mile road from the highway to park headquarters are plowed and open year-round.The 3-mile road from headquarters to Rim Village is kept open when possible, but heavy snowfall means it may be closed; call ahead to check (541-594-3100).It's best to top up your gas tank before arriving at Crater Lake. There's reasonably priced gas at Mazama Village (summertime only); the closest pumps otherwise are in Prospect, Diamond Lake and Fort Klamath.Amtrak trains link up with the Crater Lake Trolley once daily in summer so you can make it up to the lake and back in a day. However, you'll have to spend the night in Klamath Falls one night either on the way in or out (depending on which direction you're headed).TheSteel Visitors Centerthree miles south of Rim Villageprovides good information, with a film about the park, backcountry permits and weather info. Rangers are available to answer questions. Remember that you're at high elevation and pack accordingly, bringing lots of water, sun protection and convertible clothing for the fickle weather.Summer is often cold and windy, so dress warmly.The park's eating facilities are limited, though you can always bring a picnic and find a fabulously scenic spot. Rim Village has a small cafe and there's an upscale dining room nearby at thelodgewhere you can feast on Northwestern cuisine from a changing menu that includes dishes like bison meatloaf and elk chops with huckleberry sauce. Try for a table with a lake view (there are only a few). Dinner reservations are recommended. Mazama Village has a small grocery store and a decently priced restaurant called Annie Creek, too.

  • Museum

    Metropolitan Museum of Art

    What started with a handful of paintings brought over from Europe or donated by a coterie of philanthropically minded robber barons in the 19th century has since become a massive collection oftwo million works of art representing5000 years of history. It's also become one of the most beloved corners of New York City. The Met (as it's affectionately known) has been memorialized in the verses of Leonard Cohen andJorge Luis Borges, featured prominently on Gossip Girl, and was sorely missed when it closed its doors as the COVID-19 pandemic rocked New York City.The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 17 acres of exhibit space are full of treasures that have captivated visitors since 1870. You can see everything from ancient Sasanian textiles to Henry VIII’s armor, from the oldest piano in existence to works by Dutch masters like Vermeer, from remarkable quilts out of Gee's Bend, Alabama to Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's classic portrait Washington Crossing the Delaware . That's not to mention all the perennially popular exhibits on fashion, too, ranging from embroidered kimono to pieces fromcontemporary designers like Marc Jacobs and Comme des Garçons.What to see at the MetWhen the Metwas founded 151 years ago, it was intended not as an emblem of empire like the British Museum or of revolution like the Musée du Louvre. Instead, it was designed to educateand edify a teaming city of immigrants, and underscore the uniquely global culture of 19th century New York City. Whether that stated purpose has been meet bymodern, post-colonial standards is up for debate in recent years – a conversation many museums are reckoning with worldwide.Still, the Met is an ever-evolving classic. As the 2021 PBS documentary Inside the Met notes, what should have been a blockbuster birthday year for the museum's 150th anniversary turned into a reassessment of its approach to both inclusivity and accessibility, including the Met's use of digital space. Newly reopened as of March 13, 2021, the Met is showcasing its global collection in new contexts and inviting fresh discussion about some of its oldest works from contemporary artists.There's certainly too much to list in its entirety, but here are some of the best highlights:The Egyptian CollectionThe 1st-floor ancient Egyptian collection is unrivaled; packed with26,000 objects spanning six centuries. Absolutely don't miss theTemple of Dendur, built around 10 BCE and relocated to New York in 1978 as a gift from Egypt to the United States for their efforts to help save priceless antiquities like the Temple from the Aswan High Dam project.Arms and ArmorThe Arms and Armor Department became part of the Met in 1912 thanks to a private donor, but the collection grew immensely when British culture shiftedas the Edwardian Age gave way to world wars, inspiring many families to sell off their collections. But it isn't only European suits of armorexamples on display – the thousand pieces set out for the public include 16th and 18th century samurai armor from Japan, Turkish swords forged during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, and artifacts from Tibet.Islamic Art and ArtifactsA special collection of Islamic art showcases the profoundly influential motifs found in a variety of artistic works from carpets, cast metal objects, illustrated folios, tiled prayer niches, and even caskets. The collection is comprised of unique pieces from throughout the Muslim world, from Iranian mosaics to an intricate gold container made in Goa to contain abezoars (talismanic gallstones, essentially) that blend Islamic arabesques with Portuguese colonial influences. Travel buffs shouldn't miss theAstrolabe of ‘Umar ibn Yusuf ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali ibn Rasul al-Muzaffari, a Yemeni prince.Near Eastern ArtFifteen incredible rooms of the Met are devoted to an extensive collection of art and artifacts from the Middle East. Objects range from Assyrian stone reliefs to cuneiform tablets toancient Iranian pottery which was made nearly four thousand years before the Common Era. There are tiny incense burners and drinking vessels and massive installations like the iconic human-headed winged bull (technically called a lamassu) statues from theAssyrian city of Nimrud.European PaintingsThe Met started with a handful of Roman sarcophagi and 174 paintings purchased in Europe to kick-start the museum's collections – you've come a long way, baby. On the 2nd floor, the museum now houses numerousmasterworks from the 13th through 20th centuries. There's a Duccio di Buoninsegna Madonna painted around 1290CE, the famous Juan de Pareja portrait painted by Velázquez in 1650, andGustav Klimpt's 1912 Mäda Primavesi.Some are OG members of the Met collection like The Meeting of Alexander the Great and Diogenes by Gaspar de Crayer, sold to the Met by co-founder John Taylor Johnson. Others are newcomers like Virgin and Child Enthroned – bought by the Met before COVID-induced acquisition freezes – and the1636 van Dyck portrait of English Queen Henrietta Maria, bequeathed to the Met byJayne Wrightsman in 2019. One thing's for sure – there's no shortage of characters, stories, and techniques to absorb.Asian ArtSome of the oldest works of art on display at the Met are in the Asian Art galleries, which hold35,000 objects dating back as far as 5000 years. They're also some of the oldest pieces of non-European art in the Met's collection, joining the museum thanks to its earliest patrons.Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian and Tibetan paintings, woodcuts, textiles, pottery, decorative objects, lacquers, calligraphy and metalwork await, including Ming vases, Edo-era kimono embroidered with scenes from The Tale of Genji, Buddhist sutras illustrated in gold and silver byKorean master artists, and golden crowns from India.TheAmerican WingTheAmerican Wingfeatures decorative and fine art from throughout the long, diverse history of the United States, with 20,000 works by artists of Indigenous,Latin American, African American, Euro American descent. From intricately carved and inlaid Tsimshian head dresses to crisp Victorian portraits to fancy Federal furniture, there's a little bit of everything.Increasingly the Met has grappled with the legacy of colonialism and imperialism inherent in such global collections that were started in eras where standards for respectful acquisitions were much different. But the American Wing is one area where the Met's fresh commitment to changing conversations about its collections and including more diverse voices is on full display. Recent exhibitions have included Indigenous responses toEuro-American works in the collection, while some of the more recent acquisitions in the American wing have showcased an emerging dedication to correcting the museum's track record on including Black artists.The CloistersThe Met Cloisters are one of the best-beloved parts of the museum, but they aren't actually on the Fifth Ave campus with the rest of the sprawling collection. Instead, they sit ona hilltop overlooking the Hudson River, filled with the Met'smedieval treasures, including frescoes, paintings, and the famous tapestry series The Hunt of the Unicorn (1495–1505). It's a little sanctuary within the bustling city, and is a fitting setting for the often sacred context of these artworks.Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the AmericasThe breadth and depth of works from Africa, Oceania, South and Central America, and Caribbean works are on full display in theNelson A. Rockefeller wing of the museum. The expansion of this collection makes it feelrelatively new compared to other portions of the museum (it only opened in the 1960s) despite the ancient nature of theceramics, textiles, jewelry, garments, and other archeological finds on display.That said, this wing will be undergoing renovation through 2024 to better give these gorgeous works their due. One goal, for example, is to let more natural light in to the galleries, showcasing how colorful and bold many of these artworks can be in contrast to, as one docent put it in Inside the Met, the current, moremuted vibe that might evokepainfulcolonial tropes of "darkest Africa."As Long as the Sun Lasts was designed by the artist Alex Da Corte as the Met's 2021 Roof Garden Commission © Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Anna-Marie Kellen" data-embed-button="images" data-entity-embed-display="media_image" data-entity-embed-display-settings="{"image_style":"","image_link":""}" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d4de934f-c501-4a82-80e7-14dde53a1b24" data-langcode="en" title="Alex Da Corte 1.jpg">Visiting the MetThe Met is located on the Upper East Side and is easily accessible by bus, subway or on foot. Drivers can park in the garage atthe parking garage at Fifth Ave and 80th St, where rates range from $23 for an hour to$55 for the day (New York City prices, natch). The parking garage is also home to the Met's bike racks.Cyclists can also use the museum's bike valet service from May 29 to September 6 at the Fifth Ave plaza near 83rd St. Bicycle valet is available from on weekends from 10:30am - 5:30pm and on select holidays including May 31, July 5 and September 6 during the same hours.Starting in 2018, the Met changed its admissions policies from a long-standing pay-as-you-wish model to one that charges an entrance fee for those who are not residents of New York State, New Jersey or Connecticut. Visitors from further afield must pay $25 for adults, $17 for seniors 65 and over, and $12 for students. Children under 12 are free.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,the Met continues to require timed, ticketed entry, and it's best to make your reservations well in advance to suit your schedule. The Met is open Thursday through Monday from10am - 5pm and is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you dislike crowds, avoid weekends.Self-guidedaudio tours(adult/child $7/5) are available in 10 languages; download the Met's free smartphone app for excerpts.Guided toursof specific galleries are free with admission. Tickets are good for three consecutive days, and also give admission to the Met Breuer and Cloisters.If visiting April through October, head up to the excellentroof garden, which features rotating sculpture installations by contemporary and 20th-century artists – though the grand city and park views are the real draw. Enjoy a sundowner cocktail from its on-site bar, the Cantor Roof Garden Bar.Accessibility at the MetEntrances located at the Fifth Ave and 81st St and through the parking garage at Fifth Ave and 80th St are accessible for visitors with disabilities. The Met is accessible for those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, with elevators available if you need to avoid stairs or slopes.Wheelchairs for use during your visitare available on a first-come, first-served basis fromthe coat check at the 81st St entrance.For those attending with a caregiver or assistive interpreter, admission for your companion is free and arrangements can be made at the front desk. The availability of assistive devices and printed materials for visitors who are deaf, heard of hearing, or visually impaired are limited at this time due to COVID-19 sanitation protocols.

  • Market

    Pike Place Market

    A cavalcade of noise, smells, personalities, banter and urban theater sprinkled liberally around a spatially challenged waterside strip, Pike Place Market is Seattle in a bottle. In operation since 1907 and still as livelytoday as it was on day one, this wonderfully local experience highlights the city for what it really is: all-embracing, eclectic and proudly unique.A 2017 expansion of the market infrastructure added vendor space, weather-protected common areas, extra parking, and housing for low-income seniors.If you’re coming from downtown, simply walk down Pike Street toward the waterfront; you can’t miss the huge Public Market sign etched against the horizon. Incidentally, the sign and clock, installed in 1927, constituted one of the first pieces of outdoor neon on the West Coast.From the top of Pike Street and 1st Avenue, stop and survey the bustle and vitality. Walk down the cobblestone street, past perpetually gridlocked cars (don’t even think of driving down to Pike Place) and, before walking into the market, stop and shake the bronze snout of Rachel the Market Pig, the de-facto mascot and presiding spirit of the market.This life-size piggy bank, carved by Whidbey Island artist Georgia Gerber and named after a real pig, collects about $10,000 each year. The funds are pumped back into market social services. Nearby is the information booth, which has maps of the market and information about Seattle in general. It also serves as a ticket booth, selling discount tickets to various shows throughout the city.Pike Place Market HistoryPike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating market in the nation. It was established in 1907 to give local farmers a place to sell their fruit and vegetables and bypass the middleman. Soon, the greengrocers made room for fishmongers, bakers, butchers, cheese sellers, grocers selling imported wares, and purveyors of the rest of the Northwest’s agricultural bounty.The market wasn’t exactly architecturally robust – it’s always been a thrown-together warren of sheds and stalls, haphazardly designed for utility – and was by no means an intentional tourist attraction. That came later.An enthusiastic agricultural community spawned the market’s heyday in the 1930s. Many of the first farmers were immigrants, a fact the market celebrates with annual themes acknowledging the contributions of various ethnic groups; past years have featured Japanese Americans, Italian Americans and Sephardic Jewish Americans.By the 1960s, sales at the market were suffering from suburbanization, the growth of supermarkets and the move away from local, small-scale market gardening. Vast tracts of agricultural land were disappearing, replaced by such ventures as the Northgate Mall and Sea-Tac airport.The internment of Japanese American farmers during WWII had also taken its toll. The entire area became a bowery for the destitute and was known as a center of ill repute.In the wake of the 1962 World’s Fair, plans were drawn up to bulldoze the market and build high-rise office and apartment buildings on this piece of prime downtown real estate. Fortunately, public outcry prompted a voter’s initiative to save the market. Subsequently, the space was cleaned up and restructured, and it has become once again the undeniable pulse of downtown; some 10 million people stroll through the market each year.Thanks to the unique management of the market, social-services programs and low-income housing mix with commerce, and the market has maintained its gritty edge. These initiatives have prevented the area from ever sliding too far upscale.A market law prohibits chain stores or franchises from setting up shop and ensures all businesses are locally owned. The one exception is, of course, Starbucks, which gets away with its market location because it is the coffee giant’s oldest outlet, moving here from its original location in 1976.In 2015, ground was broken on the "Pike Up"project, a 30,000-sq-ft extension of Pike Place. Made possible by the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the MarketFront complex opened in 2017 with new shops, restaurants and stalls, and links the market to the waterfront via terraces, staircases and green space.Main and North ArcadesRachel the Market Pig marks the main entrance to the Main & North Arcades, thin shed-like structures that run along the edge of the hill; these are the busiest of the market buildings.With banks of fresh produce carefully arranged in artful displays, and fresh fish, crab and other shellfish piled high on ice, this is the real heart of the market. Here you’ll see fishmongers tossing salmon back and forth like basketballs (many of these vendors will pack fish for overnight delivery).You’ll also find cheese shops, butchers, stands selling magazines and candy from around the world, tiny grocery stalls and almost everything else you need to put together a meal. The end of the North Arcade is dedicated to local artisans and craftspeople – products must be handmade to be sold here. It's also abloom with flower sellers. The Main Arcade was built in 1907, the first of Frank Goodwin’s market buildings.Down UnderAs if the levels of the market that are above ground aren’t labyrinthine enough, below the Main Arcade are three lower levels called the Down Under. Here you’ll find a fabulously eclectic mix of pocket-size shops, from Indian spice stalls to magician supply shops and vintage magazine and map purveyors.Economy Market BuildingOnce a stable for merchants’ horses, the Economy Market Building on the south side of the market entrance has a wonderful Italian grocery store, DeLaurenti – a great place for any aficionado of Italian foods to browse and sample.There’s also Tenzing Momo, one of the oldest apothecaries on the West Coast, where you can pick up herbal remedies, incense, oils and books. Tarot readings are available here on occasion. Look down at the Economy Market floor and you’ll see some of its 46,000 tiles, sold to the public in the 1980s for $35 apiece.If you bought a tile, you’d get your name on it and be proud that you helped save the market floor. Famous tile owners include Cat in the Hat creator Dr. Seuss and former US president Ronald Reagan.South ArcadeIf you continue past DeLaurenti, you’ll come into the South Arcade, the market’s newest wing, home to upscale shops and the lively Pike Pub & Brewery. It's not technically part of the historic market, but is with it in spirit and rambunctious energy.Corner and Sanitary Market BuildingsAcross Pike Place from the Main Arcade are the 1912 Corner & Sanitary Market Buildings, so named because they were the first of the market buildings in which live animals were prohibited.It’s now a maze of ethnic groceries and great little eateries, including Three Girls Bakery, which is as old as the building itself and the insanely popular Crumpet Shop. When you've finished devouringyour baked goods, you can digest a bit of radical literature in bolshie bookstore, Left Bank Books.Post AlleyBetween the Corner Market and the Triangle Building, narrow Post Alley (named for its hitching posts) is lined with shops and restaurants. Extending north across Stewart Street, it offers two of the area’s best places for a drink: the Pink Door Ristorante, an Italian hideaway with a cool patio, and Kells, an Irish pub.In Lower Post Alley, beside the market sign, is the LaSalle Hotel, which was the first bordello north of Yesler Way. Originally the Outlook Hotel, it was taken over in 1942 by the notorious Nellie Curtis, a woman with 13 aliases and a knack for running suspiciously profitable hotels with thousands of lonely sailors lined up nightly outside the door. The building, rehabbed in 1977, now houses commercial and residential space.Post Alley continues on the southern side of Pike Street where you'll find the beautifully disgusting gum wall. The once venerable red-brick facade is now covered in used pieces of chewing gum, originally stuck there by bored theater-goers standing in line for a nearby ticket office in the 1990s.Despite early attempts by the city council to sanitize, the gum-stickers persevered and in 1999, the wall was declared a tourist attraction. Feel free to add your own well-chewed morsels to the Jackson Pollock–like displayNext head to one of the market's best hideaway spots, the bar and pizza restaurant Alibi Room.Triangle BuildingAll in a row in the diminutive Triangle Building, sandwiched between Pike Place, Pine Street and Post Alley, is a huddle of cheap food take-outs including Mee Sum Pastry (try the steamed pork bun), a juice bar and Cinnamon Works – all great choices for a stand-up snack.First Avenue BuildingsThese downtown-facing buildings, added mainly in the 1980s, blend seamlessly into the older hive. Here you'll find Pike Place's only two accommodations – Pensione Nichols and Inn at the Market – a couple of classic pubs and community resources such as a medical center.North EndThe market's North End stretches along Pike Place from Pine Streetto Victor Steinbrueck Park – a popular meeting point for daily walking tours. The 1918 Soames-Dunn building, once occupied by a seed company and a paper company, is now home to the world's oldest Starbucks. Beware of crowds and errant elbows knocking over your mermaid-logo coffee cup.Pike Place Market HoursEarly birds catch more than worms at Pike Place Market. Arrive promptly at 9amfor some real-life street theater at market roll call before wandering over to the Main Arcade to see the fish throwers warming up. The purpose of roll call is allocating space to the market’s temporary craft-sellers.As Pike Place has more than200 registered vendors but only 130 available trading spots, each day is nail-biting. By 9:30am the spots have been assigned and everyone is on their way. Roll call is held at the north end of the North Arcade.

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  • Park

    Golden Gate Park

    When Frederick Law Olmsted,architect of New York's Central Park, gazed in 1865 upon the plot of land San Francisco Mayor Frank McCoppin wanted to turn into a vast city park, he was understandably skeptical. Here was a swath of 1,013 acres of unlovely, dubious sand dunes on the outskirts of town, buffeted by powerful winds blowing in off the dark grey Pacific. The landscape architect turned down the job, despite the opportunity to create a park bigger than New York's before his first masterpiece was even finished.But Olmstead wouldhave to chuckle, and change his tune, a century later to see what Golden Gate Park became – from bonsai, buffalo, and redwoods to Frisbees, free music, and free spirits, when in the 1960s San Francisco's back yard became the epicenter of the Summer of Love. Today it still seems to contain just about everything its denizens love about their city.You could wander the park for a week and still not see it all – but any given visit is a chance to walk through San Francisco history, from the park's oldest corners at its eastern end to where the park's borders give way to surf spots on the Pacific coast.Walk through history in Golden Gate ParkThe creation of Golden Gate ParkGolden Gate Park was the brain child of several local politicians angling to flip a piece of former Mexican territory on the outskirts of San Francisco into a profitable expansion of the growing city. Not the least of these city schemers was then-mayor Frank McCoppin, who saw an opportunity to not only give San Franciscans more elbow room while lining his own pockets on construction grift, but also solvea problem that had lead to lengthy legal battles – namely, the presence of well-to-do and opportunistic squatters trying to lay claim to the Outside Lands now that San Francisco's fortunes looked rosy.Despite Olmsted's assertion a park larger than New York's Central would never succeed on the proposed site, tenacious young civil engineer William Hammond Hall and master gardener John McLaren got to work. Theyhad a unique vision for the time that would banish commercial eyesores likecasinos, resorts, racetracks and an igloo village and instead showcase mother nature. It was an unorthodox view in an era when Central Park wasn't even yet complete, ten years before even such majestic and one-of-a-kind landscapes as Yellowstone would be preserved from development as national parks.What to do in Golden Gate ParkUltimately, McCoppin, Hall and McLaren had their ways, producing a green space that "feels wild....shaggy and labyrinthine and confusing," in the words of Gary Kimya, scholar of San Francisco history. Indeed, he wrote in Cool Grey City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco that "The paradox of Golden Gate Park is that its wildness is almost completely man-made. Every inch of the park had to be won. The loss of San Francisco's great sand tragic...but [represents an] ultimately triumphant negotiation between man and the world."Several of Golden Gate Park's earliest features give teeth to that assessment. The Conservatory of Flowers, opened in 1879 and filled with rare specimens from South and Central America and aquatic Plants native to the Amazon. Stow Lake was created in 1893 with its picturesqueStrawberry Hill, a favorite for families for over a hundred years.The Japanese Tea Garden is another early success –the oldest such public Japanese garden in the United States, it's been here sincetheCalifornia Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. The carefully tended garden is full of imported plants, birds, and fish that have flourished for over a century in the once-inhospitable Outside Lands far from their native Nippon.In 1906, nearly forty years after the dunes turned into a park larger than Olmstead's masterpiece, the devastating earthquake that shook San Francisco left thousands of refugees camping out in parks around the city, from Dolores Park in the Mission to Golden Gate Park. Some of the shacks built by the US Army to house earthquake victims were later moved to permanent lots, and are still in use today.As the city recovered, several new institutions found a home in Golden Gate Park, including theincluding the Kezar Stadium (former home to the Oakland Raiders), California Academy of Sciences andthe de Young Museum. The park's beloved Windmills bookended the earthquake, one built in 1903 and the other in 1908. The spiky Dahlia Garden appeared in the mid-1920s, as did the Shakespeare Garden withits collection of 200 plants mentioned in the Bard's writings.The WPA and the Summer of LoveDuring the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration was not only busy decorating Coit Tower with controversial murals, they were adding new features to Golden Gate Park, including the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the archery field, Anglers Lodge, and the Model Yacht Club. They also restored the 1926 art deco Horseshoe Pits, and built the Beach Chalet with its gorgeous frescos that tell the story of Golden Gate Park's construction.Most impressive, the HooverGrove of giant sequoia were planted in 1930 to honor casualties from World War I, on the south edge of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Here you can peep these towering giants without driving out to the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods National Monument. So much for Olmstead's jab that"There is not a full-grown tree of beautiful proportions near San Francisco."The park's features and usages continued to evolve over the decades. Stow Lake's lovely boathouse was added in 1946. Twenty years later, in the Panhandle fringes of the park near Haight-Ashbury, the Human Be-In ushered in the Summer of Love, when thousands of youth were drawn to Hippie Hill by the promise of utopia fueled by free concerts from local bands and plentiful cannabis andLSD. Visit Golden Gate Park on April 20th of any given year (and, let's be honest, in certain pockets any day of the week)and you'll catch a whiff of the Hippie Hill scene from fifty years ago.Golden Gate Park todayOne of the most recent permanent additions to Golden Gate Park is the National AIDS Memorial Grove. Built in 1991, it's a touching tribute to the millions of lives lost during the plague years, which hit San Francisco's queer community hard and left the city shaken after the dark1980s.That's not all, however. Thepark is still constantly evolving year to year. Today Golden Gate Parkhosts events like the Bay to Breakers 12K race, as well as the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Outside Lands music festivals which takeplace every October. In December, the Christmas lights are a draw for families and visitors.In 2020,the city celebrated the park's 150th anniversary with temporary art installations like local artist Charles Gadeken's Entwined light show inPeacock Meadow (240 John F Kennedy Drive). Another new addition to mark the anniversary was the SkyStar Wheel, Golden Gate Park's own ferris wheelthat will be in place until March of 2025. That same year,protestors marked Juneteenth by topplingsome of the park's historic statues, including those of Francis Scott Key, Padre Junipero Serra, and Ulysses S. Grant.Other changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have included the Golden Gate Park Sunday Roller Disco Party, a free community-led party for roller skaters at " Skatin' Place," a spot near6th Ave & Kennedy Drive,most Sundays fromnoon to 5PM that features live DJs.Keep your eyes pealed during the summer months for one of the 12 pianos hidden around the Botanical Garden for anyone to play, part of an event calledFlower Piano that includes free piano lessons, community sing-alongs at sunset, and more.Getting to Golden Gate ParkAt over three miles long and half a mile long, there's a lot of ground to cover in Golden Gate Park, and a lot of entrances. The most popular entrance is in the Panhandlevia Fell St, but coming in from 9th Avenue off Lincoln puts you right by some prime attractions.JFK serves as one of themain arteries in the park for cars, along withTransverse Drive, Chain of Lakes Drive, and 25 th Ave/Crossover Drive/19 th Ave/Park Presidio – these later streets are not part of the Slow Streets program the city has implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to give San Franciscans more room to walk and bike away from crowds. Check the park website to see the latest on road closures for events and other initiatives.Biking, walking, and skating are all popular here. Numerous bus and trolly routes serve Golden Gate Park, too, and you'll find entry points lining the side of the park all the way around its perimeter.The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are restrooms sprinkled throughout the park,Vehicle parking in Golden Gate ParkThere are over 4,700 street parking spots throughout the park.Accessible parking is available at the McLaren Lodge, Music Concourse (behind Bandshell), MLK Drive & Music Concourse and on JFK/Transverse Drive.The 800-space Music Concourse garage ($33 for the day) as well as over 4,700 street parking spots throughout the park. Music Concourse garage is the main parking lot for theSkyStar Observation Wheel, as well as the De Young Museum, several gardens, andCal Academy. It can be reached via Fulton St. at 10th Avenue and is open every day of the week from 7AM to 7PM.The Golden Gate Park shuttleThe Golden Gate Park free shuttle runs from 9AM to 6PM on a cadence of every 15 to 20 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on city holidays.

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  • International Parental Child Abduction.

Which is better Rough Guides or Lonely Planet? ›

At Rough Guides they make a clever use of white space which helps the eye to quickly scan the page and understand the importance of the info and where to easily find it. Lonely Planet's content can feel a bit more “crowded” in comparison but it is ultimately still as easy and as clear to read.

Which travel guide is the best? ›

Since On the Continent was first published, Fodor's has been a trusted name in travel guides. They now claim that their travel writers have covered more than 7500 destinations around the world.

Which is a better travel guide Fodors or Frommers? ›

FODOR'S -- People tend to think of Fodor's and Frommer's as they do the big hotel chains -- mainstream, middle-of-the-road Old Reliables. But Fodor's is pitched a few notches higher than Frommer's, aimed at a fairly discerning traveler with an appetite for background and the occasional surprise.

Who owns Lonely Planet now? ›

How much did Lonely Planet sell for? ›

Lonely Planet founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler have sold their remaining 25% stake in the guidebook business for 42.1 million pounds (A$67.2 million) to BBC Worldwide, informing staff this afternoon in an emotional address at the publisher's Footscray offices that their time at the behemoth was up.

Is Lonely Planet app free? ›

The free app makes available the same in-depth tips on what to see and eat, and where to stay, shop and let loose, that the company has published since 1972, all in the portability of an iOS or Android phone.

What happened to let go travel books? ›

Let's Go announced a new print publisher, Avalon Travel, upon the expiration of its contract with St. Martin's Press in 2009. The switch led to a new format for the insides of the books, new retro covers for the outsides, and a rebranding to emphasize Let's Go's student origins.

Do you need a Covid test to enter the US? ›

As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight.

How safe is it to travel to the USA? ›

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM. The US is a very safe country to travel to. Tourists are unlikely to experience any incidents or inconveniences.

What countries can you not visit with a US passport? ›

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the only nation in the world that US citizens are banned from visiting by the American government because of “serious and mounting risk of arrest and long-term detention.”

Which is a better travel guide Fodors or Frommers? ›

FODOR'S -- People tend to think of Fodor's and Frommer's as they do the big hotel chains -- mainstream, middle-of-the-road Old Reliables. But Fodor's is pitched a few notches higher than Frommer's, aimed at a fairly discerning traveler with an appetite for background and the occasional surprise.

Are Insight Guides any good? ›

Then Insight City Guides are a great choice. With their rounded spines and compact size, these city-centered travel guidebooks are user friendly and easy to handle on the road. They highlight the top city sights at a glance, including details for the major interest points, all linked to built-in maps.

What happened to Rough Guides? ›

In November 2017, Rough Guides became part of Apa Publications, joining Insight Guides and Berlitz Publishing, and expanding to become a full service travel platform, offering tailor-made trips alongside our ground-breaking guidebooks.

Are Moon Guides good? ›

I think Moon is the best guidebook for people who really love to travel and learn something in the process. I've used all the other major brands—Lonely Planet, Fodor's, Frommer's, and DK—and each is good for different styles of travel.


1. Introducing the USA's national parks
(Lonely Planet)
2. Washington DC city guide - Lonely Planet travel video
(Lonely Planet)
3. Lonely Planet - Central America (The American Rockies)
(Stay Glued)
4. San Francisco city guide - Lonely Planet travel video
(Lonely Planet)
5. The top US destination to visit in 2017 - Lonely Planet
(Lonely Planet)
6. Los Angeles City Guide - Lonely Planet travel videos
(Lonely Planet)

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