Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sun, 25 Jun 2017 15:51:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Visiting Labrador’s Far North Coast https://moon.com/2017/06/visiting-labradors-north-coast/ https://moon.com/2017/06/visiting-labradors-north-coast/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:31:35 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42942 Labrador’s far north coast evokes images of another world. Visit the Labrador you might imagine with its raw and majestic landscapes.

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Labrador’s northern coast evokes images of another world. It’s the Labrador you might imagine: raw and majestic, with the craggy mountain ranges of Torngat, Kaumajet, and Kiglapait rising to the north.

The entire park is above the treeline, so instead of trees, its valleys are carpeted in a variety of tundra vegetation, including wildflowers.The 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded the Labrador coastline to Britain’s Newfoundland colony, but the imprint of European architecture only reached the northern seacoast when the Moravians, an evangelical Protestant sect from Bohemia, established mission stations with prefabricated wooden buildings in the early 19th century. It is in these remote north coast villages—Rigolet, Postville, Makkovik, and Nain—that the original inhabitants, the Inuit, have settled. Few aspects of these towns have changed over the last century, and the lifestyle of northern peoples here remains traditional.

The rocky shore of Battle Harbour.

Battle Harbour. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Access to Labrador’s north coast is by air or sea. The communities are linked to the outside world by Air Labrador (709/753-5593 or 800/563-3042) from Goose Bay, or by a cargo and passenger ferry that takes two days to reach its northern turnaround point, Nain. Riding the ferry, the MV Northern Ranger, is a real adventure. The one-way fare for an adult between Goose Bay and Nain is $185. A single berth in a shared cabin costs $90, while a private cabin costs from $320-650 s or d. For more information, call 800/563-6353. The website www.labradorferry.ca lists a schedule and prices.

Makkovik

After stopping at Rigolet, the MV Northern Ranger starts its long haul through open ocean, reaching Makkovik (pop. 400) 18 hours after leaving Goose Bay. The ferry makes a 90-minute stop on the way north and a three-hour stop on the return journey.

Makkovik was first settled in the early 1800s by a Norwegian fur trader; the Moravians constructed a mission here in 1896. Today this two-story building hold the White Elephant Museum (709/923-2425, July-Aug. Daily 1pm-5pm, or by appointment). Local shops such as the Makkovik Craft Centre (709/923-2221, call for hours) sell Inuit crafts, including fur caps, boots and mittens, parkas, moose-hide moccasins, and bone and antler jewelry.

Right on the water, the Adlavik Inn (7 Willow Creek Ln., 709/923-2389, $120 s, $150 d) has the only five guest rooms in town, so call ahead if your itinerary includes an overnight stay in Makkovik. Rooms have TVs and phones, and meals are served in an adjacent dining room.

A coastal town viewed from the deck of the MV Northern Ranger.

The MV Northern Ranger serves communities along the North Coast. Photo © Destination Labrador.

Hopedale

About 110 nautical miles north of Makkovik and 122 miles short of Nain, the MV Northern Ranger makes a two-hour stop at Hopedale, just enough time to go ashore and visit the 1782 Hopedale Mission National Historic Site (709/933-3864, adult $5), containing the oldest wooden frame building east of Québec. Here, a restored Hudson’s Bay Company storeroom has been converted into a museum; other site highlights include huts, a residence, and a graveyard. It generally opens whenever the ferry is in town.

Accommodations are provided at Amaguk Inn (3 Harbour Dr., 709/933-3750), which charges $159-209 s or d for its 18 rooms. Meals are available at the inn for both guests and nonguests.

Nain and the Far North

With stunning coastal scenery, stops at remote villages, and the chance to see whales and icebergs, the long trip north aboard the MV Northern Ranger ferry is a real adventure, but after two days on board, the captain’s announcement of imminent arrival in Nain, administrative capital of Nunatsiavut, is welcome. In the early 1900s, an epidemic of Spanish flu—introduced from a supply ship—destroyed a third of the indigenous population on the northern coast. The Inuit who survived resettled at Nain, which now has a population of just over 1,000 and is the northernmost municipality on the Labrador coast. Life is rugged this far north—electricity is provided by diesel generator; fuel and wood are used for domestic heat; local transportation is by boat in the summer and snowmobile in the winter. The only roads are within the town itself.

For an overnight stay, there’s just one option, the Atsanik Lodge (Sand Banks Rd., 709/922-2910; $155 s, $165 d). Each of the 25 rooms has cable TV, a phone, and a private bathroom. The lodge also has a lounge, restaurant, and laundry. Other town services include a couple of grocery stores, a post office, and a takeout food joint.

If you’ve arrived on the ferry, you’ll have just three hours ashore to explore the town before the return journey. The alternative is to take the ferry one way and an Air Labrador (709/753-5593 or 800/563-3042) flight the other. The one-way fare to Goose Bay is around $480.

Voisey’s Bay

Prior to the cod-fishing moratorium, the fishing industry dominated Labrador’s Far North Coast, but now mining at Voisey Bay, 35 kilometers south, appears to be the economic engine of the future. It is home to the world’s largest known deposit of nickel and copper. The main processing facility was completed in early 2006, and now around 6,000 tons of nickel and copper concentrate are mined daily by over 400 workers.

Hebron Mission National Historic Site

Labrador’s northernmost remaining Moravian mission is protected at Hebron Mission National Historic Site, on the shores of remote Kangershutsoak Bay, 140 nautical miles north of Nain. Building began on the mission complex, including a church, residence, and store, in 1829. The mission remained in operation until 1959. Nature Trek Canada (250/653-4265) can make a stop here on its custom guided tours along the northern Labrador coastline.

Torngat Mountains National Park

Established in 2006 as part of the Nunatsiavut land claim, the remote wilderness of Torngat Mountains National Park protects 9,700 square kilometers of the remote coastline and rugged Torngat Mountains at the northern tip of Labrador. Glaciation dominates the park’s geology; its mountains are separated by deep fiords and lakes that have been carved by retreating glaciers, many of which are still present in pockets scattered through the park. The entire park is above the tree line, so instead of trees, its valleys are carpeted in a variety of tundra vegetation, including wildflowers, which cover large expanses during the very short summer season. Huge herds of caribou migrate across the park’s interior, while polar bears are common along the coast.

Unless you are a long-distance kayaker, the only way to reach the park is by charter flight from Goose Bay to Saglek and then a boat transfer into the park. Flights and all ground services are arranged by The Torngats (855/867-6428). Owned by a branch of the Nunatsiavut government, and with a season extending from mid-July to early September, this company’s on-site camp is at the south end of the park. Although used mostly by park staff and researchers, the facility also offers a variety of services for park visitors. Expect to pay around $4,000 for flights from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the boat transfer, tent accommodation for four nights, meals, and limited guiding.

The main park office (709/922-1290; Mon.-Fri. 9am-4:30pm) is in Nain, although the best source of information for planning your trip is www.pc.gc.ca/torngat, where you can download a visitors’ guide and hiking maps.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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Best Small Towns in Alaska https://moon.com/2017/06/best-small-towns-in-alaska/ https://moon.com/2017/06/best-small-towns-in-alaska/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 21:27:11 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57436 When it comes to Alaska, the "big" cities—Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, with populations of 300,000, 32,000 and 32,000 respectively—offer the widest range of shopping, accommodations and transport options. But it’s the small towns that give you the clearest window into the quirky, independent and generous spirit that characterizes "The Great Land." Consider adding at least one of these charming, small-town destinations to your trip.

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When it comes to Alaska, the “big” cities—Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, with populations of 300,000, 32,000 and 32,000 respectively—offer the widest range of shopping, accommodations and transport options. But it’s the small towns in Alaska that give you the clearest window into the quirky, independent and generous spirit that characterizes “The Great Land.” Consider adding at least one of these charming, small-town destinations to your trip.

Welcome sign in Talkeetna Alaska

Every town in Alaska offers its own unique welcome. Photo © Lisa Maloney.

Talkeetna

Often credited as an inspiration for the classic Alaska-themed TV show “Northern Exposure,” this climbing town is also one of the best places for viewing Denali, the tallest peak in North America. Time your visit right and you can watch climbers taking off for Denali base camp from the community airstrip, or climb on board yourself (with the same flight provider) for a flightseeing trip around the mountain.

During peak season, Talkeetna’s Main Street is often choked with busloads of tourists browsing the town’s fantastic, independently owned gift shops—so make sure you stay into the evening to enjoy Talkeetna’s riverside park and live music without the crowds, just like the locals do.

McCarthy

No Alaska visit is complete without a story of epic adventure. Just getting to McCarthy, located in 13.2-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, provides exactly that. But don’t let that stop you—it’s well worth the effort to spend a few days enjoying the slow, relaxed pace of lodge living. McCarthy is so far off the grid, you have to leave your vehicle behind and cross a narrow footbridge to get into town.

The easiest way to get there is via a small plane out of Chitina, or by letting either the Kennicott Shuttle or Wrangell-St. Elias Tours do the driving on the unpaved, narrow, and winding 60-mile access road. Of course, the most epic way to get there is driving yourself, although not all rental car companies will let you take their vehicles on this road, which was built on an old rail bed and occasionally still surfaces tire-popping railroad spikes as a reminder of its origins.

footbridge path into McCarthy, Alaska

McCarthy footbridge. Photo © Lisa Maloney.

Valdez

Valdez is the friendliest small town on Alaska’s paved road system, set against a stupendous mountain backdrop that has earned it the nickname “Little Switzerland.” Truthfully, the only problem you’ll face here is deciding how best to take advantage of the beautiful setting. Want world-class halibut and salmon fishing, right out of the deep-water port? Valdez has it. How about active tidewater glaciers that shed house-size chunks of ice into the sea, epic kayaking adventures in pristine Prince William Sound, or the dramatic, waterfall-filled beauty of Keystone Canyon? Valdez has all of those, too, along with great hiking and a couple of fantastic museums that document the prominent role this small community has played in Alaska’s history.

colorful row of kayaks in Valdez

Kayaks lined up for use at the Valdez city dock. Photo © Lisa Maloney.

Petersburg

If you’re looking for a truly unique Alaska community, head straight to Petersburg. This Southeast town was founded by Norwegian fishermen who realized that icebergs from a nearby glacier offered a convenient way to preserve their catch. Its location in the Wrangell Narrows—too winding and shallow for big cruise ships to enter—has helped preserve that hard-working fishing culture, and the small cruise ships that arrive are often greeted by demonstrations of traditional Norwegian dress and dance. You’ll also see examples of rosemaling, a flowery form of traditional Norwegian artwork, stamped into the buildings and streets.

Visitors come here for a glimpse into everyday life in an authentic fishing town, but they stay for the spectacular whale watching in nearby Frederick Sound, the sea kayaking, remote cabins, and the cruises to the LeConte Glacier, which is so active it sometimes chokes its own bay with icebergs. Or you can rent a car and go “out the road” like the locals do for fishing, hiking, picnicking, and camping.

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Grand Junction Activities: Slickrock Sojourn https://moon.com/2017/06/grand-junction-activities-slickrock-sojourn/ https://moon.com/2017/06/grand-junction-activities-slickrock-sojourn/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:28:52 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57048 Just west of Grand Junction, the bent sandstone layers of Colorado National Monument soar above the fertile river valleys. The monument is located at the very edge of the Colorado Plateau, the rocky tableland that stretches across the Four Corners region all the way to the Grand Canyon.

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A lesser-known national monument in western Colorado hosts a stunning slice of quintessential slickrock scenery and a myriad of outdoor activities. Grand Junction, western Colorado’s largest community, is located along Interstate 70 just 30 miles east of the Utah border. Named for its position at the confluence of the state’s two most important rivers, the Gunnison and the Colorado (formerly the Grand), this thriving city of 60,000 straddles two very different worlds: the snow-capped summits of the Colorado Rockies and the American Southwest’s spectacular slickrock scenery.

mist surrounding sandstone in Colorado National Monument

A misty morning in Colorado National Monument. Photo © Terri Cook and Lon Abbott.

Just west of town, the bent sandstone layers of Colorado National Monument soar above the fertile river valleys. The monument is located at the very edge of the Colorado Plateau, the rocky tableland that stretches across the Four Corners region all the way to the Grand Canyon.

Although the region’s red-and-white sandstone layers usually lie flat across this plateau, here by Grand Junction they have been warped into a single, giant, staircase-like fold. Thanks to this bend, Mother Nature has been able to more easily chip away at the relatively soft rock, creating a series of deep canyons carved through the colorful sandstone and down into the darker and much older rocks below.

Colorado National Monument’s extensive trail system covers the ups and downs of this fold. One of the best options is the 5-mile (round trip) route up Monument Canyon, which leads to an impressive sandstone pillar called Independence Monument. The tower was named by John Otto, a pioneer who arrived in the area in 1906. He quickly fell in love with this landscape and began to construct a network of trails through it. The local chamber of commerce soon took notice and began to help him advocate for preserving the area as a national park. His efforts ultimately paid off when President Howard Taft declared this land a national monument in 1911. Otto was appointed as the park’s first ranger—a job for which he earned a grand total of $1 a month.

side view of Desert Bighorn

Keep an eye out for desert bighorn while exploring Colorado National Monument. Photo © Terri Cook and Lon Abbott.

Two shorter recommended hikes within the monument are the Canyon Rim Trail (1 mile round trip) and the evocatively named Devils Kitchen Trail (1.5 miles round trip), both of which begin along the monument’s spectacular Rim Rock Drive. The paved road, which can be cycled or driven in either direction, ascends the giant sandstone fold and passes plenty of gorgeous viewpoints along its crest before descending back down into the Grand Valley.

During your slickrock sojourn, be sure to leave enough time to sample the local fruit and wine. Although the valley is best known for its luscious peaches, cherries, and other fruit, its orchards are being slowly replaced by vineyards in the up-and-coming Grand Valley American Viticulture Area. The area now boasts more than 20 wineries, which pair up with local fruit stands and other attractions to create the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway.

sunset over the vineyards of Grand Junction

Evening light highlighting the cliffs above one of the Grand Junction area’s vineyards. Photo © Terri Cook and Lon Abbott.

Carlson Vineyards is great spot to sample the local bounty. One of the state’s oldest wineries, Carlson is noteworthy for its “Tyrannosaurus Red” as well as wines made from other fermented fruits, including a refreshing peach wine. Equally delicious options include Whitewater Hill Vineyards & Winery, best known for its full-bodied reds, and Two Rivers Winery, which is conveniently located at the base of the national monument.

Other locales in and around Grand Junction offer even more hiking options, as well as whitewater rafting, rock climbing, angling, and stellar mountain biking, including the classic 140-mile Kokopelli Trail, which ends in Moab, Utah. No matter which direction you head from Grand Junction, you’re guaranteed to be basking in some of the Southwest’s most stunning high desert scenery.

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Toronto to Ottawa: A Celebratory Canadian Road Trip https://moon.com/2017/06/toronto-to-ottawa-canadian-road-trip/ https://moon.com/2017/06/toronto-to-ottawa-canadian-road-trip/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 21:27:15 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57633 Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017, with festivities from coast to coast. But nowhere will the party be bigger all year long than in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. To get you to Ottawa, we’ve designed a week-long road trip that starts in Toronto and meanders through several uniquely Ontario experiences, from toasting Canada’s birthday in a growing wine- and beer-producing region, to exploring the country’s first capital, en route to Ottawa’s bang-up festivities.

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Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017, with festivities from coast to coast. But nowhere will the party be bigger all year long than in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.

To get you to Ottawa, we’ve designed a week-long road trip that starts in Toronto and meanders through several uniquely Ontario experiences, from toasting Canada’s birthday in a growing wine- and beer-producing region, to exploring the country’s first capital, en route to Ottawa’s bang-up festivities.

lawn sign spelling out Canada 150

Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Toronto

Take time to explore Canada’s largest city before you hit the road. If you’re into art, don’t miss the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, where a new contemporary art exhibit for Canada’s sesquicentennial, Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood, runs through mid-December. Or check out the many other Canada 150 events in Toronto.

Prince Edward County

Leave Toronto on Highway 401 east, then turn south into Prince Edward County, 2.5 hours from the city. Hike over the sandy dunes along Lake Ontario at Sandbanks Provincial Park, or stop to sip at Norman Hardie, Rosehall Run, or any of The County’s 40+ wineries. Craft beer is booming here, too, so check out newcomers like Parsons Brewing Company and Midtown Brewing, who’ve starting pouring their beers this spring.

The county’s coolest lodging is the Drake Devonshire, a Toronto import with thirteen rooms and an enviable location overlooking the lake. New this season is the June Motel, where two young entrepreneurs revamped a roadside motel with bright floral wallpaper and fun retro style—perfect for a girlfriends’ getaway or a road-trip overnight.

sand dunes backed by blue sky and a line of trees on the horizon

Hike over the sandy dunes along Lake Ontario at Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County. Photo © marevos/iStock.

Kingston

An hour’s drive east of Prince Edward County via Highway 401 is Kingston, which became Upper Canada’s first capital in 1841, before the nation’s founding in 1867.

Tour the stately limestone City Hall, intended to be the capitol building, until leaders of the fledgling nation, fearing that Kingston was too close to the United States for safety, relocated the government further north. Then explore Fort Henry, built in the 1830s, where you can learn to fire a musket or take in the drill formations and parade music at the summertime Sunset Ceremonies.

Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, started his career in Kingston. Visit his former home, now the Bellevue House National Historic Site, to learn more about this complicated man. While this “father of Confederation” helped build modern Canada, the exhibits at the site’s visitor center don’t shy away from his drinking, anti-aboriginal policies, and other flaws.

view of Kingston City Hall from below

Kingston City Hall. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Ottawa

From Kingston, follow Highways 401 and 416 northeast to Ottawa, a two-hour drive. Canada’s national capital always has plenty to do, but throughout 2017, there are more festivities than you could pack into a single trip.

The Canadian Museum of History unveils its signature Canadian History Hall on July 1, while the new Canadian and Indigenous Art galleries at the National Gallery of Canada are showcasing the country’s art over the past 2,000 years. The Canada Science and Technology Museum reopens in November after a complete overhaul, with new exhibits celebrating Canada’s technological and scientific achievements.

tulips blooming in front of the National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada.

Other Ottawa 2017 events and attractions include Inspiration Village, a series of shipping containers displaying highlights from each of Canada’s provinces; Kontinuum, a “wow” multimedia experience in an under-construction light rail tunnel; and a weekend of Canada Day celebrations (June 30 to July 2), including a spectacular fireworks show.

Tip: If you haven’t already booked accommodations in Ottawa, get on it right away. Think beyond the summer, too. A road trip through the fall foliage season will still bring plenty of Canadian birthday fun.

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Birds of Atlantic Canada https://moon.com/2017/06/birds-atlantic-canada/ https://moon.com/2017/06/birds-atlantic-canada/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:52:11 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42561 If you’re an avid birder, Atlantic Canada’s bird life may leave you breathless. Get insight into what birds you can spot when visiting the provinces.

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If you’re an avid birder, Atlantic Canada’s bird life may leave you breathless. In addition to hundreds of year-round resident species, the Atlantic migratory route stretches across part of the region, bringing in millions of seasonal visitors for spectacular and sometimes raucous displays.

The black-and-white murre is an expert diver that uses its wings as flippers to swim through the water chasing fish.Among the richest areas is the Bay of Fundy. In July, waterfowl, such as the American black duck and green-winged teal, and shorebirds, including the greater yellowlegs, descend on the Mary’s Point mudflats at Shepody National Wildlife Area. Across Shepody Bay, 100,000 sandpipers stop at the Dorchester Peninsula to grow fat on their favorite food—tiny mud shrimp—before continuing on to South America. With over 300 species, Grand Manan Island is a prime bird-watching site. The show is thickest during September, when migrants arrive in force. Ornithologist and artist John James Audubon visited the island in 1833 and painted the arctic tern, gannet, black guillemot, and razorbill—annual visitors that can still be seen here.

A great blue heron perches on a rock along the Fundy coast in New Brunswick.

Great blue herons are common along the Fundy coast. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Even greater numbers of seabirds, the region’s densest concentrations, gather on the coastlines of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, most notably at Cape St. Mary Sea Bird Sanctuary. Species found there include common and arctic terns, kittiwakes, great and double-crested cormorants, Leach’s storm-petrels, razorbills, guillemots, murres, gannets, and 95 percent of North America’s breeding Atlantic puffins.

Each species has found its niche, and each is remarkable in its own way. The black-and-white murre, for example, is an expert diver that uses its wings as flippers to swim through the water chasing fish. This behavior can sometimes get the birds caught up with the fish in nets. The murre’s cousin, the comical-looking Atlantic puffin, borrows the penguin’s tuxedo markings but is nicknamed the “sea parrot” for its distinctive triangular red-and-yellow bill. Puffins make Swiss cheese of the land, as they nest in burrows they’ve either dug out themselves or inherited from predecessors.

In Labrador, ruffled and spruce grouse, woodpeckers, ravens, jays, chickadees, nuthatches, and ptarmigans are a few of the inland birds you may spot.

In New Brunswick’s interior, crossbills, varied woodpecker species, boreal chickadees, and gray jays nest in the spruce and fir forests. Ibises, herons, and snowy egrets wade among lagoons and marshes. Among Nova Scotia’s 300 or so bird species, the best known is the bald eagle. About 250 pairs nest in the province, concentrated on Cape Breton—the second-largest population on North America’s east coast, after Florida. The season for eagle watching is July and August. Other birds of prey include red-tailed, broad-winged, and other hawks; owls; and the gyrfalcon in Newfoundland and Labrador. Peregrine falcons were reintroduced to Fundy National Park in 1982. They nest in seaside cliffs and attack their prey in “stoops,” kamikaze dives in which the falcon can reach speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour.

The noisy blue jay, Prince Edward Island’s official provincial bird, is at home throughout the province, but the island’s showiest species is the enormous, stately great blue heron, which summers there from May to early August. The rare piping plover may be seen (but not disturbed) on the island’s national park beaches, and arctic terns nest along the coast near Murray Harbour.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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Backcountry Camping in Canyonlands National Park https://moon.com/2017/06/backcountry-camping-in-canyonlands-national-park/ https://moon.com/2017/06/backcountry-camping-in-canyonlands-national-park/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 20:27:33 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57691 Planning to explore Canyonland's backcountry on foot, bike, boat, or 4WD? Get to know fees, permits, and more for the Maze District, River District, and Horseshoe Canyon Unit.

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While front-country camping in established campgrounds is available in the Island in the Sky and Needles Districts of Canyonlands National Park (for more information check out our Canyonland Campgrounds article), the River District, the Maze District, and the separate but nearby Horseshoe Canyon Unit offer more options in terms of backcountry exploration, where you can wander the parks on your own.

inside a tent, looking out at the scenic vista of Canyonlands through unzipped tent door

No shortage of campsite views in Canyonlands National Park. Photo © Rob Lee/Flickr, CC-BY

Information on Canyonlands Backcountry Exploration

A complex system of fees is charged for backcountry camping, 4WD exploration, and river rafting. Except for the main campgrounds at Willow Flat (Island in the Sky) and Squaw Flat (Needles), you’ll need a permit for backcountry camping. There is a $30 fee for a backpacking, biking, or 4WD overnight permit. Day-use permits (free, but limited in quantity) are required for vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles on the White Rim Road, Elephant Hill, and a couple of other areas. Each of the three major districts has a different policy for backcountry vehicle camping, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you understand the details. Backcountry permits are also needed for any trips with horses or stock; check with a ranger for details.

It’s possible to reserve a backcountry permit in advance; for spring and fall travel to popular areas like Island in the Sky’s White Rim Trail or the Needles backcountry, this is definitely recommended. Find application forms on the Canyonlands website. Forms should be completed and returned at least two weeks in advance of your planned trip. Telephone reservations are not accepted.

A portable stove lights a black cooking pot, the setup sits in front of the Canyonlands terrain at dusk

Be sure to come prepared with food and water. Photo © Rob Lee/Flickr, CC-BY

Back-road travel is a popular method of exploring the park. Canyonlands National Park offers hundreds of miles of exceptionally scenic jeep roads, favorites both with mountain bikers and 4WD enthusiasts. Park regulations require all motorized vehicles to have proper registration and licensing for highway use, and all-terrain vehicles are prohibited in the park; drivers must also be licensed. Normally you must have a vehicle with both 4WD and high clearance; it must also be maneuverable (large pickup trucks don’t work for many places). It’s essential for both motor vehicles and bicycles to stay on existing roads to prevent damage to the delicate desert vegetation. Carry tools, extra fuel, water, and food in case you break down in a remote area.

Before making a trip, drivers and cyclists should talk with a ranger to register and to check on current road conditions, which can change drastically from one day to the next. The rangers can also tell you where to seek help if you get stuck. Primitive campgrounds are provided on most of the roads, but you’ll need a backcountry permit from a ranger. Books on backcountry exploration include Charles Wells’s Guide to Moab, UT Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, which includes Canyonlands, and Damian Fagan and David Williams’s A Naturalist’s Guide to the White Rim Trail.

One more thing about backcountry travel in Canyonlands: You may need to pack your poop out of the backcountry. Because of the abundance of slickrock and the desert conditions, it’s not always possible to dig a hole, and you can’t just leave your waste on a rock until it decomposes (decomposition is a very slow process in these conditions). Check with the ranger when you pick up your backcountry permit for more information.

Camping in the Maze District

At the base of canyon rock formations sits a tent with a vehicle in the background

Camp setup in the Maze District. Photo © Nick Taylor/Flickr, CC-BY

Maze District explorers need a backcountry permit ($30) for overnight trips. Note that a backcountry permit in this district is not a reservation. You may have to share a site, especially in the popular spring months. As in the rest of the park, only designated sites can be used for vehicle camping. You don’t need a permit to camp in the adjacent Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) or on BLM land.

There are no developed sources of water in the Maze District. Hikers can obtain water from springs in some canyons (check with a ranger to find out which are flowing) or from the rivers; purify all water before drinking. The Maze District has nine camping areas (two at Maze Overlook, six at Land of Standing Rocks), each with a 15-person, three-vehicle limit.

Extra care and preparation must be undertaken for travel in both Glen Canyon NRA and the Maze. Always ask rangers beforehand for current conditions. Be sure to leave an itinerary with someone reliable who can contact the rangers if you’re overdue returning. Unless the rangers know where to look for you in case of breakdown or accident, a rescue could take weeks.

For these reasons, only experienced travelers will want to visit this rugged land.

Horseshoe Canyon Unit Camping

Tall grass is blurred in the foreground, in focus in the back is a dirt/clay wall with prehistoric carvings

A sample of Horseshoe Canyon’s prehistoric art. Photo © Greg Willis/Flickr, CC-BY

Neither camping nor pets are allowed in the canyon, although horses are OK, but you can camp on the rim. Contact the Hans Flat Ranger Station (435/259-2652) or the Moab Information Center (435/259-8825 or 800/635-6622) for road and trail conditions.

Camping in the River District

Canoes are parked and loaded with camping supplies on the bank of the Green River, looking out into the wide river and some hills in the distance

Camping via canoe on the Green River. Photo © Andy Blackledge/Flickr, CC-BY

No matter how you execute a trip through the River District, there are several issues to think about beforehand. There are no designated campsites along the rivers in Canyonlands. During periods of high water, camps can be difficult to find, especially for large groups. During late summer and fall, sandbars are usually plentiful and make ideal camps. There is no access to potable water along the river, so river runners either need to bring along their own water or be prepared to purify river water.

While it’s possible to fish in the Green and Colorado Rivers, these desert rivers don’t offer much in the way of species that most people consider edible. You’ll need to bring along all your foodstuffs.

Since all river runners must pack out their solid human waste, specially designed portable toilets that fit into rafts and canoes can be rented from most outfitters in Moab.


For detailed directions and other planning tips, check out the second edition of Moon Arches & Canyonlands National Parks.

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Canyonlands National Park Campgrounds https://moon.com/2017/06/canyonlands-national-park-campgrounds/ https://moon.com/2017/06/canyonlands-national-park-campgrounds/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:32:25 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57708 Canyonlands National Park campgrounds are few and far between in its four districts. Find information on where and how to camp in each district.

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Canyonlands National Park is made up of four sections: the River District, containing the canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers; the Needles District, with hiking trails and backcountry roads through a standing-rock desert; the Maze District, a remote area filled with geologic curiosities and labyrinthine canyons; and the Island in the Sky District, a flat-topped mesa that overlooks the rest. A separate area, the Horseshoe Canyon Unit, lies to the west and contains a significant cache of prehistoric rock art.

Camping at the Needles Outpost in Canyonlands National Park.

The private campground at Needles Outpost is not overly developed and has great views. Photo © Paul Levy.

Each district affords great views, spectacular geology, a chance to see wildlife, and endless opportunities to explore. Because most of Canyonlands remains a primitive backcountry park, you won’t find crowds or elaborate park facilities. Of course, the promise of a secluded spot to pitch your tent can make said camping spot difficult to find—and navigating the options a little confusing. Below are some of the tips, tricks, and locations to know before you go.

Front-country camping is allowed only in established campgrounds at Willow Flat (Island in the Sky) and Squaw Flat (Needles), though there are other campsites close by the park. The Maze District offers basic camping areas, though there are no sources of water and you must obtain a backcountry permit. Horseshoe Canyon does not have campgrounds or even allow camping. The River District does not have designated campsites, though this area can be explored via backpacking.

Pets aren’t allowed on trails and must be leashed in Canyonlands National Park campgrounds. No firewood collecting is permitted in the park; backpackers must use gas stoves for cooking. Vehicle and boat campers can bring in firewood but must use grills or fire pans.

Island in the Sky District Camping

Two young men stand on the edge of the rim and take in the sunset view of the canyon

Though Dead Horse Point State Park is not officially in Canyonlands, the view is just as good. Photo © Bettina Woolbright/Flickr, CC-BY

There is only one developed campground in the Island in the Sky District. Willow Flat Campground on Murphy Point Road has 12 sites ($15), available on a first-come, first-served basis; sites tend to fill up in all seasons except winter. No water or amenities are available.

Camping is available just outside the park at Dead Horse Point State Park (reservations 800/322-3770, $25, plus $9 reservation fee), which is also very popular, so plan on reserving as far in advance as possible. There are also primitive Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campsites along Highway 313.

Needles District Camping

A van is parked on the designated concrete parking spot, with a view of some foliage and the slick rock in the background

One of the 26 sites at Squaw Flat Campground. Photo © Erik B/Flickr, CC-BY

The Squaw Flat Campground (year-round, reservations for Loop A only Mar. 15-June 30 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, $20) about six miles from the visitors center, has water and 26 sites, many snuggled under the slickrock. RVs must be less than 28 feet long. Rangers present evening programs (spring-autumn) at the campfire circle on Loop A.

If you can’t find a space at Squaw Flat, a common occurrence in spring and fall, the private campground at Needles Outpost (435/979-4007, mid-Mar.-late Oct., $15 tents or RVs, no hookups, showers $3), just outside the park entrance, is a good alternative.

Nearby BLM land also offers a number of places to camp. A string of sites along Lockhart Basin Road are convenient and inexpensive. Lockhart Basin Road heads north from Highway 211 about five miles east of the entrance to the Needles District. Hamburger Rock Campground (no water, $6) is about one mile up the road. North of Hamburger Rock, camping is dispersed, with many small (no water, free) campsites at turnoffs from the road. Not surprisingly, the road gets rougher the farther north you travel; beyond Indian Creek Falls, it’s best to have 4WD. These campsites are very popular with climbers who are here to scale the walls at Indian Creek.

There are two first-come, first-served campgrounds ($15) in the Canyon Rims Special Recreation Management Area (www.blm.gov). Windwhistle Campground, backed by cliffs to the south, has fine views to the north and a nature trail; follow the main road from U.S. 191 for six miles and turn left. At Hatch Point Campground, in a piñon-juniper woodland, you can enjoy views to the north. Go 24 miles in on the paved and gravel roads toward Anticline Overlook, then turn right and continue for one mile. It’s best to come supplied with water.

The Maze District Camping

Two hikers, one with a backpacking backpack, walk down a trail with canyons in front of them and blue skies

Hiking in the Maze District. Photo © Zach Dischner/Flickr, CC-BY

Maze District explorers need a backcountry permit ($30) for overnight trips. Note that a backcountry permit in this district is not a reservation. You may have to share a site, especially in the popular spring months. As in the rest of the park, only designated sites can be used for vehicle camping. You don’t need a permit to camp in the adjacent Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) or on BLM land.

There are no developed sources of water in the Maze District. Hikers can obtain water from springs in some canyons (check with a ranger to find out which are flowing) or from the rivers; purify all water before drinking. The Maze District has nine camping areas (two at Maze Overlook, six at Land of Standing Rocks), each with a 15-person, three-vehicle limit.

Extra care and preparation must be taken for travel in both Glen Canyon NRA and the Maze. Always ask rangers beforehand for current conditions, and be sure to leave an itinerary with someone reliable who can contact the rangers if you’re overdue returning. Unless the rangers know where to look for you in case of breakdown or accident, a rescue could take weeks.

For these reasons, only experienced, prepared travelers will want to take on this rugged land.


For detailed directions, descriptions of camp amenities, and planning tips, check out the second edition of Moon Arches & Canyonlands National Parks.

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The 10 Best Places to Camp on Oregon’s Coast https://moon.com/2017/06/the-10-best-places-to-camp-on-oregons-coast/ https://moon.com/2017/06/the-10-best-places-to-camp-on-oregons-coast/#comments Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:45:44 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=13615 From north to south, here are 10 great coastal camping spots for all interests—whether you're looking for something easily accessible or beautifully secluded.

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From north to south, here are the top Oregon coastal camping spots for all interests—whether you’re looking for something easily accessible or beautifully secluded.

Best Camping on Oregon’s North Coast

Tents set in a grassy clearing with late afternoon sun hitting nearby trees.

Camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. Photo © Judy Jewell.

  • Fort Stevens State Park: Bike trails, a shipwreck, an old military fort, and a long beach where the Columbia River crashes into the Pacific make this a family-friendly campground. It’s big, too, with over 500 sites, including yurts and cabins, so it’s usually easy to find accommodations.
  • Nehalem Bay State Park: This campground has beach access to the Pacific on one side and sandy Nehalem Bay on the other; bike and hiking trails make it easy to get around.
  • Cape Lookout State Park: At the base of a secluded sand spit, with easy access to hiking on Cape Lookout–one of the coast’s top hiking trails–this campground has popular yurts and cabins.

Best Camping on Oregon’s Central Coast

Two dogs at the crest of a sand dune in Oregon's Honeyman State Park.

The dunes at Honeyman State Park. Photo © ktkochan/Flickr, CC-BY.

  • South Beach State Park: Just south of Newport, this large campground has easy access to the beach. It’s a great base camp for a guided paddle trip up the nearby Beaver Creek estuary.
  • Carl G. Washburne State Park: On the central coast between Florence and Yachats, camp on the inland side of the highway in a thicket of huge salal bushes. Pile your gear into a wheelbarrow (provided) and trundle it to one of the great walk-in campsites, then hike along the Hobbit Trail. There are also plenty of standard spots for car and RV camping.
  • Honeyman State Park: A few miles south of Florence, this large campground is a playground for sandboarders and dune riders. Two miles of sand dunes separate the park from the ocean. The two freshwater lakes within the park’s boundaries are popular places to boat and swim.

Best Camping on Oregon’s South Coast

The lighthouse near Cape Blanco. Photo © Judy Jewell.

The lighthouse near Cape Blanco. Photo © Judy Jewell.

  • Sunset Bay State Park: Not only is this bay-fronting campground lovely, it’s home to the Oregon coast’s only real swimming beach and adjacent to several of the southern Oregon coast’s top sights: Shore Acres State Park, Cape Arago, and South Slough National Estuarian Research Reserve.
  • Cape Blanco State Park: A beautiful and often blustery campground at the state’s westernmost point, just north of Port Orford and Humbug Mountain. Campground trails lead down to the beach and to the nearby lighthouse.
  • Harris Beach State Park: Just north of Brookings, this magical campground sits in a grove of spruce and firs, and just off the beach are menhir-like sea stacks busy with seabirds.
  • Alfred A. Loeb State Park: On the north bank of the Chetco River, find aromatic old-growth myrtlewood and the nation’s northernmost naturally occurring redwood trees at Loeb State Park. The 1.2-mile nature trail winds through the redwoods, passing one tree with a 33-foot girth. When the south coast is foggy and cold on summer mornings, it’s often warm and dry here.

Travel Maps of Coastal Oregon

Topographical Map of Coastal Oregon

Coastal Oregon Topographical Map

Color map of the north coast of Oregon

North Coast of Oregon

Color map of the central coast of Oregon

Central Coast of Oregon

Color map of the South Coast of Oregon

South Coast of Oregon



Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Coastal Oregon .

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Day Trips From Providence: East Bay and Sakonnet https://moon.com/2017/06/day-trips-from-providence-east-bay-sakonnet/ https://moon.com/2017/06/day-trips-from-providence-east-bay-sakonnet/#respond Sat, 17 Jun 2017 15:59:30 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=43162 The East Bay and Sakonnet region is a quick day trip from Providence or Newport. The area is ideal for travelers wishing to experience Rhode Island’s gorgeous coastline without the long lines, exorbitant prices, and crowded attractions.

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Driving east on I-195 out of Providence, travelers might first find themselves crossing over the Massachusetts border before driving back through Rhode Island and into the Sakonnet and East Bay regions of the state.

View of the Sakonnet Lighthouse across the water.

Sakonnet Lighthouse. Photo © Liz Lee.

The region is ideal for travelers wishing to experience Rhode Island’s gorgeous coastline without the long lines, exorbitant prices, and crowded attractions.The area’s small townships distinguish themselves from the more well-known Newport and South County by remaining small, close-knit communities, where town beaches are a bit off the beaten path and unsupervised roadside farm stands still operate under the honor system. Barrington, Warren, and Bristol comprise the East Bay section, characterized by unique downtown shopping districts, quaint B&Bs, and a folksy fishing village vibe. Further south lay the towns of Tiverton and Little Compton, made distinct by their proximity to the Sakonnet River, which separates them from Newport and Middletown to the west.

The region is ideal for travelers wishing to experience Rhode Island’s gorgeous coastline without the long lines, exorbitant prices, and crowded attractions. Geographically speaking, the region is quite distinct as well. The peninsular towns of Barrington, Warren, and Bristol dangle jaggedly off the mainland like stalactites, fringed on various sides by Narragansett and Mount Hope Bays and the Seekonk, Warren, and Barrington Rivers. All told, the three towns share about 20 miles of shoreline throughout Bristol County, as well as a handful of cultural and historical attractions to rival any other region in the state. Best of all, the entire area lies sheltered from—but completely accessible to—the Atlantic Ocean.

A short drive southeast, Sakonnet hugs the Massachusetts mainland on one side and the Sakonnet River on the other before coming to a point where the river meets the Atlantic. A summer drive headed south on Route 77 through Little Compton will reward adventurers with stretches of lush green farmland and rows of dazzling purple-blue hydrangeas (a popular fixture in many front yards).

View across the green at the stately Blithewold Mansion in Bristol, RI.

Blithewold Mansion in Bristol, Rhode Island. Photo © Liz West, licensed CC-BY.

Highlights

  • Blithewold Mansion and Arboretum: Right up there with the lavish summer cottages found in Newport, Blithewold ranks among the most impressive house-museums in the state, with expansive and expertly maintained bayside gardens.
  • Warren’s Historic District: This colonial shipbuilding center contains dozens of restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings, along with dozens of interesting shops, restaurants, and cafés.
  • East Bay Bike Path: This 14.5-mile asphalt path is the most scenic of the state’s biking routes, stretching from Providence down through the East Bay and with wonderful bay views along the way.
  • Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard: In peaceful and rural Little Compton, this vineyard produces some of the top wines in the state.
  • Goosewing Beach and Nature Preserve: A long stretch of sandy beach and a 75-acre nature preserve make this one of the most peaceful and scenic beaches in the state.

Planning Your Time

The East Bay and Sakonnet region is a quick day trip from Providence or Newport—although at least two days is recommended, especially during the warmer months when one of those days could easily be spent lounging on the beach. The appeal of this area is less in ticking off sights than it is in rambling along streets filled with colonial homes and antique stores or driving down sunny country roads lined with stonewalls. If you truly want to fall into the slow pace of life here, an overnight or two is a nice respite on a harried vacation.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Rhode Island.

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Canadian Road Trip: Georgian Bay, Ontario https://moon.com/2017/06/canadian-road-trip-georgian-bay-ontario/ https://moon.com/2017/06/canadian-road-trip-georgian-bay-ontario/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:44:39 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57543 Perfect for outdoor adventurers, a road trip around Georgian Bay takes you to three national parks (where admission is free in 2017, as it is in all Canada’s national parks for Canada’s 150th Anniversary), several provincial parks, and to the world’s largest freshwater island, where you can hike, canoe, and learn more about the area’s aboriginal culture.

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Georgian Bay, the eastern section of Lake Huron, is one of Ontario’s most scenic regions, with its Caribbean-blue water, red and white lighthouses, dense green forests, and pink granite cliffs.

Perfect for outdoor adventurers, a road trip around Georgian Bay takes you to three national parks (where admission is free in 2017, as it is in all Canada’s national parks for Canada’s 150th Anniversary), several provincial parks, and to the world’s largest freshwater island, where you can hike, canoe, and learn more about the area’s aboriginal culture. You can even stop along the way to snorkel the site of several shipwrecks; more than twenty ships met their demise in the lake’s often choppy waters.

You can do this scenic Canadian road trip in a week, but you’ll have more time to relax in each location if you can take at least ten days.

People stand at the edge of a rocky bank, overlooking blue water at Bruce Peninsula National Park

Bruce Peninsula National Park. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

The Bruce Peninsula

From Toronto, allow about four hours to drive northwest to the Bruce Peninsula, a finger of land that juts into Georgian Bay. Here, at Bruce Peninsula National Park, you can do an easy hike to The Grotto and Indian Head Cove to explore the intricate rock formations along the turquoise waters. Stay in Tobermory, the cute waterfront town at end of the point, or camp in the national park.

From Tobermory’s Little Tub Harbour, schedule a snorkeling tour, where you can float above the ghostly remains of several ships that met their demise just off shore. Yes, the water’s chilly, but you’ll suit up in a warm wetsuit, booties, gloves, and a hood to keep you comfortable.

Boats also leave from Little Tub Harbour to Fathom Five National Marine Park, one of Canada’s three national marine conservation areas. You can tour Flowerpot Island with its towering “flowerpot” rock formations. Imagine if a giant had turned his garden flowerpots upside down, and you can begin to envision these unique stone columns.

A rocky island is pictured with a towering rock structure

Flowerpot Island in the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Manitoulin Island

A car ferry, the MS Chi-Cheemaun, makes the two-hour crossing from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island, which is both the world’s largest freshwater island and a base for learning more about the region’s aboriginal culture.

An island-based aboriginal tourism organization, the Great Spirit Circle Tour, offers a variety of activities, from “glamping” in a teepee, to learning about traditional dances and songs, to taking a “medicine walk,” where an aboriginal guide will help you identify local plants and understand how they’re used in indigenous medicine and cooking.

A lighthouse stands on a rocky and grassy island with a sign in front that reads Welcome to South Bay Mouth Marina. The photo was taken arriving by ferry to Manitouiln Island

Arriving on Manitoulin Island by ferry. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Killarney Provincial Park

Cross the swing bridge from Manitoulin back to the mainland and drive to Killarney Provincial Park, where the pink granite cliffs, white dolomite ridges, sparkling lakes, and dense pine forests inspired the early twentieth-century landscape painters known as the Group of Seven, and they continue to inspire hikers, paddlers, and other nature lovers today.

Hike up to “The Crack,” for expansive views over the park, or glide your canoe around George Lake. On the harbor in the nearby town of Killarney, stop for fish and chips at old favorite Herbert Fisheries.

Trees sit atop a rocky mountain with the Killarney Provincial Park landscape and sky in the background

Killarney Provincial Park. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

South of Killarney, Georgian Bay Islands National Park encompasses sixty-three of the thousands of islands that span Georgian Bay. Catch the park’s DayTripper ferry from the town of Honey Harbour to Beausoleil Island, where most of the park’s services are located. Take a hike, go for a swim, or explore the island’s diverse terrain.

From Honey Harbour, you can drive back to Toronto in less than three hours, but along Ontario’s Georgian Bay, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled miles away.

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