Mount Shasta. Photo © Christopher Arns.

Northern California Getaway: Mounts Shasta and Lassen

The mountains in the far northern reaches of California are some of the most unspoiled areas in the state, protected by a wealth of national and state parks and forestlands. The most prominent features of this region are two iconic mountains: Shasta and Lassen. Both mountains make great vacation destinations, beautiful to behold and surrounded by recreation opportunities, or a fabulous weekend getaway—particularly if you’ve got a three-day weekend.

Big Bend, Texas. Photo 123rf.

The Rugged Beauty of Big Bend National Park

The colossal Big Bend National Park encompasses more than 800,000 acres of spectacular canyons, mesmerizing Chihuahuan Desert, awe-inspiring Chisos Mountains, and unexpectedly temperate woodlands. Soak up the natural beauty through your own eyes, play some appropriate West Texas soundtrack music (Willie Nelson complements the scenery quite nicely) and marvel at the jagged peaks, desert cacti, and sweeping vistas.

View from the path to Laguna Verde. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking to Laguna Verde

The hike up to Colombia’s sulfurous Laguna Verde, a dazzling, emerald green crater lake on the north side of the dormant Volcán Azufral, is easy to make from Pasto. A sacred site for the Pasto indigenous people, the volcano is part of the Nudo de los Pastos mountain range and requires some preparation and an afternoon to scale.

Jaguar lounging in Belize. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Hiking Cockscomb Basin in Belize

The main draw of the Cockscomb Basin is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, commonly called the “Jaguar Preserve.” The area is alive with wildlife and hiking opportunities, from an easy hour-long stroll along the river to a four-day Victoria Peak expedition. Here’s how to get to the preserve, the best hiking trails, and necessary preparations for staying overnight.

A scenic highway leads south from Petén into Alta Verapaz. Photo © Al Argueta.

Las Verapaces: Guatemala’s Green Heartland

Las Verapaces remains green and lush throughout most of the year. From exploring beautiful cloud forests to remote hikes to discovering a lagoon in the middle of the rainforest, outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of vibrant, unique landscapes to experience. Here’s a sampling of the best.

The highlands near Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica’s Central Highlands

The beauty of the Central Highlands owes much to the juxtaposition of valley and mountain. The large, fertile central valley—sometimes called the Meseta Central (Central Plateau)—is a tectonic depression about 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide and 70 kilometers (43 miles) long. The basin is held in the cusp of verdant mountains that rise on all […]

Rada Point, a popular trekking destination on Lang Biang Mountain. Photo © Dana Filek Gibson.

The Best of Vietnam’s National Parks

Vietnam counts 30 national parks to its credit. Several of the parks that welcome foreign visitors stand out from the bunch for their impressive landscapes, diverse wildlife, and unique outdoor adventures. From bird-watching to hiking to everything between, here are the best of Vietnam’s national parks.

The colorful town of Jardín in southern Antioquia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Things to See and Do in Jardín, Colombia

While the main selling points of Jardín are its good looks, nearby tropical forests and cloud forests–home to natural attractions such as the Caverna El Esplendor and the ProAves bird-watching reserve–provide good excuses for lacing up those hiking boots.

Peaceful and cool Minca is a nice break from the beach. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Discover Minca, Colombia

If you’ve had your fill of beaches or the seductive Caribbean cities, maybe it’s time for an altitude adjustment. The blissful routine of life in Minca–mountain hikes, dips in invigorating swimming holes, and sunset ogling–may make you want to linger here.