Springtime at Daffodil Hill. Photo © Brandon Bourdages/123rf.

Visiting Volcano, California

Little Volcano is an often-overlooked town in the Shenandoah Valley. While it has its own share of wineries, the real draws are the stunning Black Chasm Caverns–inspiration for the atmosphere in the film The Matrix–spring on Daffodil Hill, which explodes each March into a profusion of sunny yellow, and hotels with vintage Gold Country charm.

Avenue of the Giants. Photo © Suppavut Varutbangkul/123rf.

Explore Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Surprisingly, the largest stand of unlogged redwood trees isn’t on the coast, and it isn’t in the Sierras; it’s here in Humboldt, bisected by U.S. 101. Come to this park to hike and camp beneath the 300-foot-plus old-growth trees of the Avenue of the Giants, and cool off with a swim or boat trip down the Eel River.

This tree's conical spikes store water. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Nicaragua’s Forest Ecosystems

Nicaragua’s varied topography and uneven rainfall distribution, not to mention the presence of tropical reefs, volcanoes, and volcanic crater lakes, result in a phenomenal diversity of terrain and ecosystems.

Gourds produced by the calabash tree were used for storage by the Taíno. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

All About Puerto Rican Trees

The official tree of Puerto Rico is the ceiba, an incredibly useful plant to island’s indigenous Taínos along with the unique calabash tree. Learn about their historical use, plus other remarkable trees of Puerto Rico, from ubiquitous palms and important mangroves to vibrant flamboyans and lovely mameys.

A Houlletia tigrina orchid.

Costa Rica’s Ingenious Orchids

Costa Rica is home to an incredible variety of orchids; orchid lovers should head for the cloud forests; there the greatest diversity exists in humid mid-elevation environments. Here are examples of some remarkable varieties.

Closeup of a Heliconia rostrata flower.

Costa Rica’s Incredibly Diverse Plant Life

Costa Rica’s tropical location, in combination with its remarkable diversity of local relief and climates, has resulted in the evolution of a stupendously rich biota. Some habitats, such as the mangrove swamps, are relatively simple. Others, particularly the ecosystem of the tropical rainforests of the Caribbean lowlands and the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas, are among the most complex on the planet.

A red tree frog climbing in the Amazon rain forest.

The Rainforests of Colombia

Rainforests are among the most complex ecosystems on Earth. Learn about the flora and fauna of the rainforests of Colombia, focusing on those that make their home in the Amazon and the Chocó.

A spectacled or Andean bear looks down the hillside.

Colombian Cloud Forest

Rainforests that grow at higher altitudes on the flanks of the Andes are known as montane rainforests or cloud forests because they are often enveloped in mist that results from the condensation of warm air against chillier mountain currents. Learn more about the plants, animals, and environment in the Colombian Cloud Forest.