So you’re looking for a travel destination, but you don’t want your next vacation to be just another visit to another modern city. Well, here are 5 great travel destinations for nature lovers.
1. Denali National Park, Alaska.
Alaska’s Denali National park is home to the largest mountain in North America, and is absolutely gorgeous. I say this from experience, as I went on a vacation there with my family last year. Denali is a wonderful travel destination if you’re a nature lover, for several reasons. The first of which is just how absolutely MASSIVE it is. Denali is over 6 million acres, making it larger than some States. Denali is also relatively untouched aside from a few roads and bridges, meaning that the vast majority of those 6 million acres are pristine and largely untouched. You could spend weeks there and not even come close to seeing everything there. There are also many beautiful glaciers, rivers, and geological formations to see in Denali, the crown jewel of which is the Great One herself, Denali. The tallest mountain in North America is one of the more elusive sights in the park, ironically enough, due to often being shrouded in clouds. There are also numerous species of wildlife, such as bears and ptarmigans. If traveling there is within your budget and you’re willing to go, you should absolutely visit this park.
2. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.
If you want a travel destination that’s slightly warmer than subarctic Alaska, and are an enjoyer of rock formations, you should visit Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. Capitol Reef is a good deal smaller than the previous park on this list, but that is actually to it’s benefit, as you can see much more of it in a short time. The main attractions of this park are the beautiful sandstone formations that are found throughout the park. If you can get a permit, its a nice place to go backpacking. The many small canyons and grand spires of sandstone are unforgettable when illuminated by a sunset. There’s also a variety of plants and wildlife to see in the park, most of it found near water. The park itself is very compact, so you can get the full experience in less than a week. If you’re lucky you might even stumble across some pictograms etched into the stone by ancient peoples. The only real downside is that there’s a lot of sand.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
However, if you’re a fan of sand, this next travel destination is for you. Located in colorful Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is famous primarily for, well, sand dunes. I’ve been to this park several times with my family and there’s actually a lot of cool stuff to do there. You can actually sled or snowboard down the dunes, which I enjoy quite a lot. In the spring, there’s enough water flowing down Medano that a temporary beach forms, which really cool and unique. Another facet of great sand dunes is that it’s a great spot for stargazing. Due to it being far away from settlements, there’s very little light pollution, so you can see many more stars than you would in a city. The park also has wetlands, forest hikes, alpine lakes, and even some tundra. It’s a great destination for people who want a diverse national park experience or for those who just want to go sledding in a month when there’s no snow. With lots to do, gorgeous scenery, and a more relaxed feeling than some other national parks, Great Sand Dunes is a fantastic travel destination for any nature lover.
4. Mendocino, California
While the Mendocino area isn’t a national park, it’s just too perfect of a travel destination not to include. Located in northern California, this oceanfront community is just a few hours north of San Francisco. It’s also one of the most beautiful little places I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit. It’s got beautiful beaches, pristine headlands and rock formations, redwoods, and a variety of wildlife and shorebirds. Its also a functional town, so if you want to keep the comforts of civilization while having almost instant access to natural beauty and oceanfront, Mendocino can give you that experience. In terms of wildlife, there are seals, sea lions, various shorebirds, gophers, and if you’re lucky you might even spot a whale. If you’re also a history buff, Mendocino has that angle covered too, with historic lighthouses and buildings over a century old. Another really cool landmark in the area is Glass Beach, a beach completely covered with sea glass. It’s a lovely place at any time of year, but can be a little colder than what most people think of when they picture “California.” It’s a great place for a weekend trip and a wonderful travel destination even if you aren’t a nature lover. I absolutely adore the place and hope you will as well.
5. Redwoods National Park, California.
Another Northern California travel destination, Redwoods National park is a wonderful place for nature lovers of all ages. Its main attractions are the massive, towering redwood trees that give the park its name. These trees are incredibly tall and absolutely ancient, but they’re far from the only reason to go. Redwoods National Park also has prairie areas and 40+ miles of rugged, beautiful coastline. The wildlife is also worth checking out, ranging from the humble and amusing Banana Slug to the massive and rarely seen California Condor. Yep, Redwoods is home to one of the few remaining Condor populations, and the chance to see one of these majestic creatures in the wild is not something that comes along every day. The redwood forest itself also has a sort of otherworldly aspect to it, especially when the fog rolls in. There’s so much history and natural beauty in this one park I can’t even begin to cover it all in detail. If you want a place with lots of nature and beautiful scenery, this is one of the best out there.