The view from Sunset Point. Photo © Judy Jewell.

Planning Your Time in Bryce Canyon National Park

In Bryce Canyon, a geologic fairyland of rock spires rises beneath the high cliffs of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. This intricate maze, eroded from soft limestone, now glows with warm shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, and cream. The best things to do in the park are take in the visitors center exhibits, enjoy the viewpoints along the scenic drive, and spend time hiking.

Three Sisters Hoodoos in Goblin Valley State Park. Photo © William Perry/123rf.

Explore Utah’s Southeastern Corner

Utah’s southeastern corner contains an incredible wealth of scenic and culturally significant sites. Consider rounding out your trip to this part of Utah with a tour of Ancestral Puebloan ruins, remote desert washes, soaring natural bridges, snowy mountain peaks, and a vast reservoir.

Notom-Bullfrog Road. Photo © Judy Jewell.

Plan a Visit to Capitol Reef National Park

Although Capitol Reef gets far less attention than the region’s other national parks, it is a great place to visit, with excellent hiking and splendid scenery. It’s easy to spend 2-3 days camping at the park campground or staying in nearby Torrey and taking day hikes in the park’s core district. Even travelers short on time will enjoy a quick look at visitors center exhibits and the Scenic Drive, which offers access to viewpoints and hiking trails.

The Virgin River cuts through Zion Canyon. Photo © Judy Jewell.

Planning Your Time in Zion National Park

Zion is a magnificent park with stunning, soaring scenery. The geology here is all about rocks and water; even rainy days can be memorable as waterfalls plunge from nearly every crevice in the cliffs above. To explore, it’s always worth spending part of a day hiking with a park ranger. The highlight for most visitors is winding through the canyon on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Volcán Telica. Photo © lanabyko/123rf.

Hiking Nicaragua’s Maribio Volcanoes

Each volcano along the Maribio chain is unique and offers a different sort of adventure from the quintessential cone-shaped volcano, Momotombo, to the most frequently active volcano in the chain, Cerro Negro. Start early for each of these and bring a minimum of three liters of water per person. None of these hikes should be attempted without a guide, but luckily you won’t have any trouble finding a local one. Community tourism projects are growing at the base of many of these volcanoes.

Mono Lake in the South Tufa area. Photo © sarahjanet/123rf.

Mono Lake’s Tufa Towers

Mono Lake, eerie in its stillness, is the main attraction in the northern part of the Eastern Sierra, just east of Yosemite. Over time, the lake has collected huge stores of calcium carbonate, which solidifies into strange-looking tufa towers–freestanding calcite towers, knobs, and spires. If you’re visiting the Eastern Sierra, you won’t want to miss this natural wonder.

Crater lake inside Volcán Santa Ana. Photo © Hugo Brizard/123rf.

Hiking Parque Nacional Los Volcanes, El Salvador

Parque Nacional Los Volcanes commonly known as Parque Cerro Verde, includes three prominent volcanoes that create the El Salvador’s most poetic portrait. They are of distinct ages rarely seen so close together. Volcán Izalco is the youngest volcano in Central America; Cerro Verde is considered middle aged, formed around 25,000 years ago; and Santa Ana is one of the region’s oldest volcanoes.

Red dirt with clustered grasses in the foreground while a flat-topped arch spans across the landscape in the background.

The Variety and Splendor of Arches National Park

A concentration of rock arches of marvelous variety has formed within the maze of sandstone fins at Arches National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Bill McRae and Judy Jewell offer advice on how to plan your time and where to go to experience the best Arches has to offer.

Laguna Lachua in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.

Laguna Lachuá National Park, Guatemala

Laguna Lachuá National Park, an almost perfectly circular turquoise lagoon, is its own ecological island, like a square patch of forest floating on a surrounding sea of deforestation. Here you can enjoy the refreshing waters and the dense forest all around in an atmosphere of utter tranquility.

Volcán Maderas is a pleasant volcano to climb. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Nicaragua’s Volcanic Landscape

Nicaragua’s nickname, “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” evokes its primary geographical features: two great lakes and a chain of impressive and active volcanoes; these water and volcanic resources have had an enormous effect on its human history. The country has about 40 volcanoes, a half dozen of which are usually active at any time. Running parallel to the Pacific shore, Nicaragua’s volcanoes are a part of the Ring of Fire that encompasses most of the western coast of the Americas, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Japan, and Indonesia.