Hotspot | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sun, 14 Jan 2018 22:50:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Hotspot | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Activities in Acadia National Park https://moon.com/2016/04/activities-acadia-national-park/ https://moon.com/2016/04/activities-acadia-national-park/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 16:07:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=40807 Acadia National Park is one of those parks that has something for everyone, from active outdoor adventurers to history buffs with a penchant for finding that perfect slice of solitude. Here's the best of everything Acadia has to offer.

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Acadia National Park is one of those parks that has something for everyone, from active outdoor adventurers to history buffs with a penchant for finding that perfect slice of solitude. Here’s a sampling of everything Acadia has to offer.
View of Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

View of Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

Bicycling

Pedaling Acadia’s famed carriage roads takes you to the heart of the park. Forty-five of the 57 miles of gravel roads are open to bicyclists, and many are accented with rough stone bridges. All are mapped and signposted, so you won’t get lost. While there are some ups and downs, none of the roads are very steep.

Birding

Twenty warbler species are among the 338 bird species that have been sighted on Mount Desert Island. Plan a day with Down East Nature Tours to sight eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons, shorebirds, and warblers as well as rare birds such as the Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow.

Camping

Make advance reservations for Acadia’s Blackwoods Campground on Mount Desert Island, which has the greatest concentration of trails, with options for all abilities. Consider adding three nights on Isle au Haut for a primitive escape.

History

Don’t miss Castine, a seemingly bucolic town fought over by the French, British, and Dutch thanks to its strategic location.

Rock Climbing

No experience is required to climb Acadia’s cliffs, but you will need a guide or a lesson. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School and Atlantic Climbing School, both in Bar Harbor, will tailor instruction to your needs and help you find the perfect route.

Climbers prepare to scale Acadia's granite cliffs. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

Climbers prepare to scale Acadia’s granite cliffs. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

Scenic Driving Tour

Drive the Park Loop Road on Mount Desert Island and then loop together the Schoodic National Scenic Byway, wrapping around the Schoodic Peninsula, with the inland Black Woods Scenic Byway.

Sea Kayaking

One of the best ways to see Acadia is from the water, and paddling a sea kayak along the shoreline allows you to explore all the nooks and crannies. Outfitters in Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and Stonington offer guided trips. Experienced kayakers seeking island-hopping experiences should join the Maine Island Trail Association.

Sea kayakers favor Deer Isle's craggy coastline. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

Sea kayakers favor Deer Isle’s craggy coastline. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

Solitude

Plan well in advance to book a campsite on Isle au Haut, home to a remote section of Acadia National Park that sees fewer than 130 visitors daily.

Whale-Watching

Whale-watching excursions go up to 20 miles out to sea, which means not only will you likely spot whales, seals, and seabirds, but you’ll also get grand views of the island-salted seascape.

Park Fees and Passes

The entrance fee is $25 per vehicle ($20 for motorcycles) late June-mid-October, and it is valid for seven days. Acadia’s other fee options include:

  • Individual Pass ($12): Valid for seven days.
  • Acadia Annual Pass ($50): Valid for one year from the day of purchase.
  • Interagency Annual Pass ($80): Allows unlimited entrance for one year to all national parks.
  • Access Pass (free): Lifetime access to all national parks for any blind or permanently disabled U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Senior Pass ($10): Lifetime entrance to more than 300 national parks for U.S. citizens and permanent residents age 62 or older.
  • Interagency Volunteer Pass: Accumulate 250 service hours for this one-year pass.

Reservations

There is no lodging within Acadia National Park. Reservations for Acadia National Park’s Seawall and Blackwoods Campgrounds on Mount Desert Island are available online or via telephone (877/444-6777). Reservations for the park’s Duck Harbor Campground on Isle au Haut open April 1; contact the park for a reservation form (207/288-3338). Reservations for the new Schoodic Woods Campground on the Schoodic Peninsula, opening in July 2015, should be available online in 2016; until then, call the park for more information.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Acadia National Park.

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Where to Go in Nicaragua https://moon.com/2016/02/where-to-go-in-nicaragua/ https://moon.com/2016/02/where-to-go-in-nicaragua/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:15:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=36335 Unless you have a few weeks to dedicate to your travels, it's impossible to see everything Nicaragua has to offer–even then, you'd have a tight schedule. The best way to tackle the country is to learn about each region, then plan according to your interests and favorite activities. From vibrant nightlife to exploring history to outdoor adventures, Nicaragua won't disappoint.

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Unless you have a few weeks to dedicate to your travels, it’s impossible to see everything Nicaragua has to offer–even then, you’d have a tight schedule. The best way to tackle the country is to learn about each region, then plan according to your interests and favorite activities. From vibrant nightlife to exploring history to outdoor adventures, Nicaragua won’t disappoint.

Maps - Nicaragua 6e - Regional

Regional Map of Nicaragua

Managua

Although you won’t find the capital at the top of any tourist destination lists, the city of Managua is full of history. Managua is also the country’s transportation hub. If you find yourself passing through on a weekend, make sure to check out the vibrant nightlife.

Granada and Masaya

One of Nicaragua’s most sought-after destinations, Ometepe Island offers a little bit of everything, with options for every kind of traveler.Less than an hour south of Managua are the colonial cities of Granada and Masaya. Granada is the country’s tourist hub, while smaller Masaya offers a more laid-back vibe. Both have developed international café cultures and nightlife. Between the two lies the Laguna de Apoyo, the perfect spot for a relaxing respite of swimming, kayaking, and sharing a beer with fellow travelers. Outside Masaya is one of the country’s many active volcanoes, Volcán Masaya. Volcán Mombacho, a coffee farm and cloud forest, appeals to hikers and coffee enthusiasts.

La Isla de Ometepe and San Juan del Sur

Reserva Charco Verde. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Reserva Charco Verde. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

One of Nicaragua’s most sought-after destinations, Ometepe Island offers a little bit of everything, with options for every kind of traveler. Its twin volcanoes offer hiking treks full of howler monkeys, tropical plants, and waterfalls. There are beaches and lagoons for swimming, and plenty of restaurants that cater to tourists. San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast is popular with foreigners. In addition to jaw-dropping sunsets, it offers a raging nightlife. Tola is generally calmer and less full of tourists. Try surfing, fishing, or sailing on one of the region’s many beaches.

León and the Volcanic Cordillera

León and Chinandega are historical colonial cities with vibrant urban life. Lots of bars and restaurants offer international food and serve clientele from all over the world. This is also the hottest region of the country. Escape the heat on the nearby Pacific coast where you can surf and observe sea turtles. This is the region that made volcano boarding a sport (on Cerro Negro). There are many remote protected areas throughout the Cosigüina peninsula.

La Iglesia El Calvario in Chinandega. Photo © La Iglesia El Calvario in Chinandega. Photo © Otto Dusbaba/123rf.

La Iglesia El Calvario in Chinandega. Photo © La Iglesia El Calvario in Chinandega. Photo © Otto Dusbaba/123rf.

Estelí and the Segovias

This mountainous northern region boasts an impressive landscape. Try locally grown coffee, tobacco, and corn products. Take a dip in the Estanzuela waterfall in the Tisey Nature Reserve. Meet other travelers and shop for mementos in the historical city of Estelí. From there you can head north towards the Honduran border and rock climb in the Somoto Canyon, or take a guided swimming tour.

The Matagalpa and Jinotega Highlands

This heavily forested region is full of small coffee farming communities that open their homes to visitors. The hilly, laid-back city of Matagalpa has impressive views of the surrounding mountains, and makes a great base for traveling through the area. It’s easy to find popular woven products from the nearby women’s cooperative in El Chile. Head north to Peñas Blancas, the mouth of the enormous biological reserve, Bosawás, where you can hike and swim in a tropical paradise.

Chontales and Cattle Country

Cattle ranches and farms populate this rural area. You can sample delicious cheese in Boaco, known for its dairy products. Most tourists pass right through on their way to El Rama, so there are few foreign travelers in this region. However, hot springs, horseback riding, and hiking await the more curious traveler.

Solentiname and the Río San Juan

Río San Juan near El Castillo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Río San Juan near El Castillo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

This river along the Costa Rican border starts at the Atlantic coast, emptying into Lake Cocibolca. It’s not easy to move around this remote area. The beautiful Solentiname archipelago in Lake Cocibolca is worth the trip for impressive landscapes and an up-close look at a thriving artist colony. Along the river, you’ll come across biological reserves, lagoons, and the four-centuries-old fort at El Castillo.

Bluefields and the Corn Islands

The Autonomous Region of the South Caribbean Coast (RACCS) might as well be a different country. You’ll hear English and a variety of native languages spoken here. Experience Creole culture and cuisine in Bluefields before checking out the nearby Pearl Cays or Greenfields reserve. The Corn Islands offer diving and, of course, clear blue Caribbean water. There’s no highway connecting the Pacific side of the country to the Atlantic. You can take a plane straight to Bluefields or Corn Island from Managua, or take a 10-hour bus and boat trip from the capital.

Long Beach on Big Corn Island. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Long Beach on Big Corn Island. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Puerto Cabezas and the Río Coco

This area is not for the casual traveler. The Autonomous Region of the North Caribbean Coast (RACCN) is heavily marginalized by the central government in Managua. Inhabitants are mostly Miskito and not accustomed to foreigners. However, Bilwi (also known as Puerto Cabezas) has basic oceanfront services where you hire tour guides to take you to nearby rivers and beaches. Adventurers can wander to their hearts content among the riverside communities of the Río Coco. There is no road directly connecting the RACCN to the Pacific nor to the RACCS to the south. From Managua, the region is accessed by plane or by a very arduous bus journey.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Nicaragua.

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Hiking Telescope Peak, Death Valley’s Highest Point https://moon.com/2015/11/hiking-telescope-peak-death-valley/ https://moon.com/2015/11/hiking-telescope-peak-death-valley/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:05:59 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=33013 A true Death Valley classic, if you can only choose one hike in Death Valley, put Telescope Peak in the running. The sweeping 360° views make it worthwhile and give a sense of Death Valley’s vast scope, and if you've been exploring the canyons and valley floors, this is your chance to have a personal travel retrospective.

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Telescope Peak presides over Death Valley’s vast salt flats, a rocky, snow-capped beacon for much of the year even while the desert below is scorching. From Badwater Basin, the lowest point in Death Valley at -282 feet below sea level to Telescope Peak, the highest point in Death Valley at 11,049 feet, the elevation drop is sharper than the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s the highest mountain peak in Death Valley National Park and a dramatic demonstration of Death Valley’s sheer basin and range topography. It caps the Panamint Mountain Range, standing sentinel over the deep, well-watered canyons, cutting into the mountain flanks from the Death Valley floor. Seemingly everywhere you go in Death Valley, Telescope Peak is there, towering in the distance.

The dramatic salt-to-snow shift in elevation and landscape from Badwater Basin to Telescope Peak. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The dramatic salt-to-snow shift in elevation and landscape from Badwater Basin to Telescope Peak. Photo © Jenna Blough.

It’s best to undertake this hike in spring, summer, or fall. This trail offers unusual warm weather hiking opportunities in Death Valley when trails at lower elevations are generally too hot. In winter the trail is usually covered in snow and ice, and the access road may be closed. Check road and trail conditions before you go. This strenuous hike is a total of 13 miles round-trip and has an elevation gain of 2,929 feet so expect it to take anywhere from 7-9 hours to complete.

You’ll find the trailhead easily accessible at Mahogany Flat Campground. This campground, perched at the top of Wildrose Canyon and offers cool temperatures, sweeping views. It is only open March—November because of the likelihood of snow the rest of the year. The 10 sites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and have picnic tables, fire pits and vault toilets. It does get some traffic because of its proximity to the popular Telescope Peak trail, but your chance of getting a spot is pretty good.

Looking west toward Telescope Peak from Hanaupah Canyon. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Looking west toward Telescope Peak from Hanaupah Canyon. Photo © Jenna Blough.

A true Death Valley classic, if you can only choose one hike in Death Valley, put Telescope Peak in the running (or more accurately, in the slow, grueling climb to the top). The sweeping 360° views make it worthwhile and give a sense of Death Valley’s vast scope. It’s also a great place to cap off travel in Death Valley. If you’ve been wandering down in the canyons and valley floors, this is your chance to have a personal travel retrospective.

The trail begins at the high elevation Mahogany Flat Campground (8,200 feet). It winds through a forest of pinyon, juniper, and mahogany to swing around Rogers Peak on the east side with eastward views down to the valley floor the whole way. At 2.4 miles into the hike, you’ll reach the flinty expanse of the Arcane Meadows. This cold and wind-scoured mountain pass is where you’ll catch the first glimpses west toward the Panamint Valley and the Argus Range.

The trail levels out at the windswept expanse of Arcane Meadows. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The trail levels out at the windswept expanse of Arcane Meadows. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The next two miles remain fairly level, giving you a break from the elevation gain as you walk a gently rising ridge. The highly visible trail ribbons ahead, licking up to the point of Telescope Peak in the distance. Enjoy the western views into Tuber and Jail Canyons—the rough canyons that nose in toward the Death Valley park boundary from the Panamint Valley below. To the east, marvel at Hanaupah Canyon’s three forks cutting deeply into the contoured flanks of the Panamint Mountains. Speaking of marvels, the snaking road up to Aguereberry Point, hand-built by old-time miner Pete Aguereberry to show his friends his favorite view, is visible to the north. At 6,433 feet, Aguereberry Point offers spectacular views of Death Valley. At this point you might be wishing you had chosen this option.

The distant goal of Telescope Peak is always in sight. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The distant goal of Telescope Peak is always in sight. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Around the 4-mile mark, the trail begins to climb again in earnest, and you’ll begin passing through ancient Bristlecone pine forest. These gnarled trees are some of the oldest species of plant life on the planet, with some individuals dating to thousands of years old. They like to grow in harsh and arid environments, which tells you a little about the territory you’ll be hiking through. The twisted trees dot the landscape, forming surreal shapes against the increasingly far-flung views—the Amargosa Range and Death Valley to the east, the Argus Range and Panamint Valley to the west.

Ancient pines gnarled by the wind dot the upper elevations. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Ancient pines gnarled by the wind dot the upper elevations. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The last mile to the peak climbs in a tight series of switchbacks. It’s not just the amazing views that will take your breath away. The thinner air and the tight coils of the rocky rise make for a strenuous final ascent, until finally, you poke your head above what appears to be the cloud line and Telescope Peak rolls in front of you in a glorious swoop. Gulp in air and views as you enjoy the wildness and solitude of the peak—from the luminous salt flats of the valley floor to the distant Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The trail follows a ridge with stunning views of Death Valley to the west and Panamint Valley to the east. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The trail follows a ridge with stunning views of Death Valley to the west and Panamint Valley to the east. Photo © Jenna Blough.

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The Best of Death Valley in One Day https://moon.com/2015/10/one-day-best-of-death-valley/ https://moon.com/2015/10/one-day-best-of-death-valley/#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2015 20:22:12 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=32160 If you only have one day to spend in Death Valley, this driving tour of the park will help you experience some of the most iconic sights, stretch your legs, and even enjoy a back-road adventure. Fill your gas tank before entering the park, and be sure to have plenty of food and water on hand, as services are limited.

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If you only have one day to spend in Death Valley, this driving tour of the park will help you experience some of the most iconic sights, stretch your legs, and even enjoy a back-road adventure. Fill your gas tank before entering the park, and be sure to have plenty of food and water on hand, as services are limited.

  • Start the day at Furnace Creek, a tourism outpost since 1933. Orient yourself at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center, where you can pick up a park map and pay the entrance fee. Furnace Creek is also home to a few restaurants and a general store; this is a good place to fill up on breakfast or lunch before hitting the road.
  • Drive south along Badwater Basin Road to Badwater Basin, a Death Valley classic. The lowest point in North America, these vast salt flats lie 282 feet below sea level and encapsulate the mesmerizing yet unforgiving landscape of Death Valley. Walk out onto the salt flats to look for delicate salt crystal formations.
  • The vast salt flats of Badwater Basin are the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.

    The vast salt flats of Badwater Basin are the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Photo © iofoto/123rf.

  • Head north, back to Highway 190, and continue past Furnace Creek to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. These sculpted, windswept dunes sit perched on a slope of the valley floor and are the most popular dunes in the park.
  • Venture east along Daylight Pass Road to the ghost town of Rhyolite. Wander the ruins of this once-flourishing town whose crumbling banks burst with gold.
  • Two miles east of Rhyolite, Titus Canyon Road begins. The 27-mile one-way dirt road is one of the most popular backcountry routes in the park. It sweeps past rugged rock formations and a ghost town before the grand finale, the canyon narrows. The narrows tower overhead, barely allowing a car to squeeze through before they open wide to reveal the salty and barren Death Valley floor.

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Death Valley National Park.

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Five Death Valley Ghost Towns Worth the Trek https://moon.com/2015/07/five-death-valley-ghost-towns-worth-the-trek/ https://moon.com/2015/07/five-death-valley-ghost-towns-worth-the-trek/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:00:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=21396 Deep in the Mojave Desert, where California fades into Nevada, the ragged remains of ghost towns are strewn across salt-crusted soil, lost at the ends of bumpy roads, and tucked into rocky mountain canyons. Here are some spots that are easy to miss—although you won’t want to.

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Deep in the Mojave Desert, where California fades into Nevada, the ragged remains of ghost towns are strewn across salt-crusted soil, lost at the ends of bumpy roads, and tucked into rocky mountain canyons. I’m the type of person who can’t resist crumbling cabins or map symbols for “Point of Historic Interest,” so I’ve trekked through the eastern Mojave looking for these pieces of abandoned history. Here are some spots that are easy to miss—although you won’t want to.

Panamint City, California

Panamint City’s iconic brick smokestack.

Panamint City’s iconic brick smokestack. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Panamint City was a mean, tough silver town with a lawless reputation so bad that Wells Fargo refused to open a bank there. It was founded in the early 1870s and saw mining on and off until the 1980s, when floods wiped out the only road.

The bumper sticker of an abandoned 1957 sings the praises of Panamint City.

The bumper sticker of an abandoned 1957 sings the praises of Panamint City. Photo © Jenna Blough.

More than 130 years after Panamint City’s peak as a boomtown, it looks like a post-modern apocalyptic summer camp. Abandoned cabins, rusted mining equipment (fashioned into sculptures by enterprising hikers), mining tunnels, rotting cars, and a backwoods hot tub MacGyvered from a bathtub and fire pit are tucked into the narrow, enclosed valley. The brick smokestack of the smelter stands like a beacon. Wander the stone remains of the once-bustling Main Street and red light district.

It takes a 5-mile hike along the remains of the old road through Surprise Canyon and 4,000 feet of elevation gain to get to Panamint City. The “surprise” may be all the water so close to harsh desert. Dazzling white canyon walls, waterfalls, pools, and a sparkling creek contrast with lush greenery. Panamint City has it all: adventurous journey, striking setting, and well-preserved ruins. The bumper sticker on an abandoned 1957 Chevy at the edge of town sums up the magic: “I’d rather be in Panamint City.”

Ballarat, California

The old general store where Rocky Novak dispenses icy drinks and information.

The old general store where Rocky Novak dispenses icy drinks and information. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Ballarat is a dusty outpost at the foot of the Panamint Mountains. It’s been teetering on the edge of ghost town status for over 100 years. Rocky Novak, caretaker and lifelong resident, keeps it from that fate by living there year-round.

The Manson family’s truck is abandoned in Ballarat.

The Manson family’s truck is abandoned in Ballarat. Photo © Jenna Blough.

In its heyday between 1897 and 1905, Ballarat was a resupply and entertainment center for the nearby mines. Today, newer trailers are mixed in among the historic adobe structures. Nearby, Charles Manson had his final hideout at the Barker Ranch. A truck owned by the Manson family rusts quietly in front of the general store.

Rocky Novak is the coolest thing about this place. He has a wealth of information about the past and present that he’s willing to share, as well as an ancient cooler stocked with icy cold sodas and beer for sale. Visitors can stop to chat, get the latest on road and trail conditions, grab an icy drink, and tap the pulse of this remote desert corner.

Chloride City, California

Chloride City’s ruins are scattered across the steep hills of the Funeral Mountains.

Chloride City’s ruins are scattered across the steep hills of the Funeral Mountains. Photo © Jenna Blough.

The scattered debris of Chloride City hints at life in a remote mining camp back in the day. Think deafening quiet, scorching sun, wind, and a long wait for the mule supply train.

Miner shacks like these are called  “dugouts” because they were built into the side of the hill.

Miner shacks like these are called “dugouts” because they were built into the side of the hill. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Looking over the crumbling ruins strewn across a bowl in the steep hills of the Funeral Mountains, the name “Chloride City” seems optimistic. Clearly this was never a city.

Silver-lead ore was discovered here in 1871, making it one of the oldest historical sites in Death Valley. But the lack of infrastructure (the closest town was 180 miles southeast across salt flats and mountains, with no roads or settlements in between) killed mining efforts after less than two years. Chloride City came back to life intermittently until the early 1940s. Each time, the remoteness proved too formidable—even in a region known for remoteness. Walk the old loop road through town and look for the remains of the mill, mining tunnels, marked grave of James McKay (no one knows who he is now), and dugouts—small miners’ houses built into the hillsides.

Rhyolite, Nevada

Rhyolite’s well-preserved train station.

Rhyolite’s well-preserved train station. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Shorty Harris, prospector and colorful Death Valley character, started some of the region’s most famous gold strikes. In 1904, he sparked the mining craze near Rhyolite with his friend E.L. Cross. Thousands of people streamed to the area. At its peak in 1907-1908, Rhyolite was home to 3,500–5,000 people. The 1907 financial panic kicked off a rush in the opposite direction, and people left in droves. By 1911, the mine had closed.

A once-proud bank building along Rhyolite’s main street.

A once-proud bank building along Rhyolite’s main street. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Today, Rhyolite’s roads lead past the two-story ruins of banks, an intact mission-style train station, cemetery, and red-light district and mine remains. Rhyolite also has one of the few remaining bottle houses in the west, built by resourceful miner Tom Kelly out of a plentiful material on hand—beer and liquor bottles.

Rhyolite shares the desert backdrop with the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Belgian artists created the museum’s larger-than-life sculptures in the 1980s. The most famous, The Last Supper, features hollow, hooded figures hunched on a platform. The combination of ghost town and haunting sculptures is surreal.

Gold Point, Nevada

Gold Point’s working saloon.

Gold Point’s working saloon. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Gold Point is what’s called a living ghost town. Stuck in the high desert north of Death Valley, Gold Point was a mining camp in the 1860s.

Many of Gold Point’s cabins are occupied.

Many of Gold Point’s cabins are occupied. Photo © Jenna Blough.

It became a proper town in 1908 with a post office, saloons, and residences. Even when the mines dried up, a few old-timers held on, living in the cabins along the town’s dirt streets. In the early 1980s, two friends began buying up the mostly abandoned property and stabilizing the cabins and buildings. Other people followed suit, saving Gold Point from obscurity and the elements. Today, Gold Point is the real deal. It’s a fiercely independent Wild West community—gritty, isolated, and authentic. Visitors are welcome to this frontier time capsule—just remember that it’s private property. Owner Herb Robbins and his business partner Walt are usually on the premises, willing to open the saloon and share a beer and stories.

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Pride Month Road Trip: Playlist & Itineraries https://moon.com/2015/06/pride-month-road-trip-playlist-itineraries/ https://moon.com/2015/06/pride-month-road-trip-playlist-itineraries/#respond Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:54:55 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=24632 Whether you decide to take a two-week loop or do a one-day straight shot, you’ll need a Pride-hopping playlist to blast with the windows down—so enjoy the music on our custom Spotify playlist, below, while you get the scoop on these upcoming events, and start planning your road trip!

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June is LGBT Pride Month, and plenty of Pride celebrations will be in full-swing across the country all month long. If you happen to be on the west coast, Pride is the perfect excuse to plan a summer road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, or Portland to Seattle. Whether you decide to take a two-week drive along the coast or do a one-day straight shot, you’ll need a Pride-hopping playlist to blast with the windows down—so enjoy the music on our custom playlist below while you get the scoop on these upcoming events, and start planning your road trip! For more song ideas, check out our moonguides Spotify channel.

  1. Born this Way – Lady Gaga
  2. Latch (Feat. Sam Smith) – Disclosure
  3. Vogue – Madonna
  4. Thinkin Bout You – Frank Ocean
  5. Faith – George Michael
  6. Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
  7. Boys Wanna Be Her – Peaches
  8. Bennie and the Jets – Elton John
  9. Closer – Tegan and Sarah
  10. Wut – L1ef

Los Angeles to San Francisco

Because LA Pride and SF Pride are separated by two weeks, road trippers should consider the Best of the West 14-Day Road Trip, recommended by Moon California Road Trip author Stuart Thornton. If time is of the essence, drivers can try a five- to seven-day itinerary, or use tips for navigating Route 1 from Road Trip USA Pacific Coast Highway.

This year, Los Angeles Pride is scheduled for June 12–14.

Festival: Saturday, June 13th and Sunday, June 14th 12pm-110:00pm at West Hollywood Park (along the west side of San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Ave). $20/day.

Parade: Sunday, June 14th. Starts at 11am at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights.

LA Pride is the largest gathering of the LGTBQ community of Southern California. The festival and parade feature live entertainment, exhibitors, community activists and organizations, food and drink vendors, and plenty of dancing. This year, look out for performances by Tamar Braxton (Friday), Ke$ha (Saturday), and Fifth Harmony (Sunday). Bring sunscreen, and consider taking public transportation or walking to the main events.

San Francisco Pride happens two weeks later, on June 27–28th.

Festival: Saturday, June 27th from 12pm to 6pm and Sunday, June 28th from 11am to 6:30pm in San Francisco’s Civic Center.

Parade: Sunday, June 28th. Starts at 10:30am at Market and Beale.

SF Pride’s theme this year is “Equality Without Exception.” Because it’s the largest LGBTQ gathering in the country, the event options are countless. The community calendar of events is a great resource; be sure to check it often for updates. Watch for fabulous costumes in the annual parade, and check out some of the twenty-three community-run stages and venues.

Portland to Seattle

If you plan on celebrating Pride in the Pacific Northwest, consider a road trip from Portland to Seattle. Again, the respective festivities are two weeks apart, making the 14-Day Best of the Pacific Northwest Road Trip Loop entirely possible. If you don’t have time, take a shorter route, and see if you can fit in some of the highlights on your way. For more ideas on how to see the best of Portland and Seattle (plus Vancouver, Victoria, the Olympic Peninsula, and the Oregon Coast, and Mount Rainier), check out Moon Pacific Northwest Road Trip.

Portland Pride is ten days long, from June 12–22.

Festival: Saturday, June 20th at Deering Oaks Park, from 1pm-5pm.

Parade: Saturday, June 20th. Starts at 12pm at Monument Square.

Although the parade and festival are both on Saturday, June 20th, the city of Portland is celebrating pride for ten days. Keep an eye on their website for additional events and schedule updates. This year’s festival features local bands and performers, a beer garden (open from 1pm–4pm), a family center, a food court with local food trucks and restaurants, and a vendor marketplace with over 50 LGBTQ friendly business and organizations.

Seattle Pride takes place on Sunday, June 28th, and Seattle Trans* Pride is scheduled for Friday, June 26th.

Pride Festival: Sunday, June 28 at the Seattle Center.

Trans* Pride Festival: Friday, June 26th, in and around Cal Anderson Park at 5pm.

Parade: Sunday, June 28. Starts at 11am at 4th Avenue and Union Street.

Trans* Pride Parade: Friday, June 26th. Starts on Broadway at 6pm.

Following the success of the last two years, the third annual Trans* Pride celebration will include a fantastic array of speakers and performers on stage from 7pm to 10pm on Friday after the march. Before Sunday’s Pride parade, Parlor Live Seattle is hosting its annual brunch party. You’ll need to buy tickets in advance, but Brunch comes with a buffet of waffles, eggs, salad, bacon and more—plus a complimentary mimosa, coffee, or tea. Bring an appetite!

Have fun Pride-hopping, and enjoy this Moon Guides Pride Playlist during your travels!

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The Road Trip USA Playlist https://moon.com/2015/05/the-road-trip-usa-playlist/ https://moon.com/2015/05/the-road-trip-usa-playlist/#respond Tue, 26 May 2015 23:05:47 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=24548 Hitting the road this summer? We've put together a killer playlist to get you from Point A to Point B. Whether you're driving Route 66 or "The Road to Nowhere" (a.k.a. US-83), these classic American tunes will help you keep on truckin'.

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Hitting the road this summer? We’ve put together a killer playlist to get you from Point A to Point B, wherever those might be. Whether you’re driving Route 66 or “The Road to Nowhere” (a.k.a. US-83), these classic American tunes will help you keep on truckin’. For an even more songs, check out the extended playlist on our Spotify channel.

  1. Running On Empty – Jackson Browne
  2. Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles
  3. Take it Easy – The Eagles
  4. Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
  5. Low Rider – War
  6. America – Simon & Garfunkel
  7. Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers & Jonathan Richman
  8. Route 66 – Chuck Berry
  9. To Ohio – The Low Anthem
  10. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Before your trip, check out roadtripusa.com or pick up a copy of the full-color 2015 edition of Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways for itineraries, route ideas, and expert info on where to stay on your trip. For readers who know that the road trip experience is as much about the journey as it is about the destination, author Jamie Jensen has put together the definitive guide to off-beat roadside attractions, quirky mom-and-pop businesses, and the best Americana to be found anywhere east or west of the Mississippi.

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Moon Pacific Northwest Road Trip Playlist https://moon.com/2015/05/moon-pacific-northwest-road-trip-playlist/ https://moon.com/2015/05/moon-pacific-northwest-road-trip-playlist/#respond Wed, 20 May 2015 15:58:24 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=24564 The playlist we've put together celebrates the innovation that's been at the heart of the Pacific Northwest music scene, including artists from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana. All of the songs are either about the Pacific Northwest or were performed by an artist or band from the region.

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With coastal rainforests, outstanding wine trails, and stunning alpine lakes, the Pacific Northwest makes for an amazing setting for a summer road trip. And every great road trip needs great tunes. The playlist we’ve put together below celebrates the innovation that’s been at the heart of the Pacific Northwest music scene, including artists from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana. All of the songs on this playlist are either about the Pacific Northwest or were performed by an artist or band from the region.

Whether you’re exploring Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, the Olympic Peninsula, Portland, the Oregon coast, or Mount Rainer, this playlist will serve as a fitting soundtrack for your journey. For more song ideas, check out a longer playlist on our Spotify channel.

  1. No One’s Gonna Love You – Band of Horses
  2. Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
  3. Title and Registration – Death Cab for Cutie
  4. Come As You Are – Nirvana
  5. Hello Seattle – Owl City
  6. Alive – Pearl Jam
  7. Surface Envy – Sleater-Kinney
  8. Down by the Water – The Decemberists
  9. Rivers and Roads – The Head and the Heart
  10. All Along the Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Enjoy, and check out the full-color 2015 edition of Moon Pacific Northwest Road Trip for more inspiration as well as indispensable travel tips for your journey!

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Luxury Stays at Ka‘anapali Beach in Maui https://moon.com/2015/03/luxury-stays-at-kaanapali-beach-in-maui/ https://moon.com/2015/03/luxury-stays-at-kaanapali-beach-in-maui/#respond Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:46:37 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=18478 While all hotels on Ka‘anapali Beach are luxurious, this list highlights ones that stand out for most amenities, budgets rates, family favorites, & more.

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A man and woman in traditional Hawaiian garb.

The Hyatt Regency Maui offers several onsite activities include lei making and hula demonstrations. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui.

Map of Ka‘anapali, Hawaii

Ka‘anapali

Since all hotels in the Ka‘anapali resort fit in the luxury category, and other types of accommodations such as condos don’t skimp either, choosing the place to stay that best fits your lifestyle and budget can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some hotels that stand out from the others for value and amenities.

Of the handful of condos in Ka‘anapali, one of the best values is the Maui Eldorado (2661 Keka‘a Dr., 808/661-0021, $199-369), managed by Outrigger Resorts. The condos are only a three-minute walk to the beach but don’t have the prices of an oceanfront resort. Plus, you can cook your own meals. The golf course cuts right through the property, there are a number of small swimming pools, and discounts are fairly common.

As their slogan says, Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel (2525 Ka‘anapali Pkwy., 808/661-0011, $165-325) is truly Maui’s most Hawaiian hotel. A genuine feeling of aloha permeates this laid-back resort, and while nowhere near as lavish as its fellow Ka‘anapali neighbors, KBH occupies prime oceanfront real estate a two-minute stroll from Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock). The open lawn is the perfect place to relax in the shade of an ulu tree, and while there is no hot tub, there is a swimming pool next to the popular tiki bar which is a welcoming place for families. On the lawn, there is an outrigger sailing canoe crafted by the employees of the resort, and free hula shows are held each night on the hotel’s outdoor stage. Guests are made to feel like ohana, and the rates are much more affordable than larger resorts along the strip.

Right in front of Pu‘u Keka‘a is the 510-room Sheraton Maui Resort (2605 Ka‘anapali Pkwy., 808/661-0031, $400-700), the original Ka‘anapali resort which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. This luxurious beach resort is tucked into the sacred cliff face, and despite being the “oldest” hotel on the strip (though renovated numerous times), the Sheraton doesn’t skimp on any of the modern amenities. There is a large oceanfront pool, tennis courts, spacious rooms, and a spa. A few of the rooms are set on top of the legendary Ka‘anapali promontory.

Exterior view of the Hyatt Regency Maui set right on Maui's shore.

The Hyatt Regency Maui’s stretch of Ka‘anapali Beach. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui.

On the far southern end of the Ka‘anapali strip is the Hyatt Regency (200 Nohea Kai Dr., 808/661-1234, $375), listed here for having the best pool system in all of Ka‘anapali. This is a favorite of families who want to spend the day by the pool and the best place along the strip to grab a drink from a bar tucked behind a waterfall or ride down a twisting waterslide. This southern end of the beach is also sheltered from the afternoon trade winds, although the sand immediately in front of the resort has been steadily eroding for years. Rates begin around $375 and work their way up depending on view and size.

The Royal Lahaina (2780 Keka‘a Dr., 808/661-3611 $189-over 500), on the northern side of Pu‘u Keka‘a offers rooms for tighter budgets. Rates can begin as low as $189 for a standard room. In addition to the oceanfront tower there are a number of individual cottages scattered around the property, where the Ka‘anapali golf course runs right through the resort. A little more laid-back than some of the glitzier resorts, this is one of Ka‘anapali’s best oceanfront values.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.

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How to Find a Great Vacation Rental in Hawaii https://moon.com/2015/01/how-to-find-a-great-vacation-rental-in-hawaii/ https://moon.com/2015/01/how-to-find-a-great-vacation-rental-in-hawaii/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 19:48:31 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=17362 There are thousands of vacation rentals across the islands that afford the luxury of a home away from home—think full kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, and laundry facilities—in many desired locales, sometimes where hotels just can’t be. So how do you navigate the myriad listings to find the right vacation rental for your stay? Research is the key.

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In Hawaii, your destination will dictate the type of vacation rental available.

In Hawaii, your destination will dictate the type of vacation rental available. Photo © epicstockmedia/123rf.

With big advertising budgets, packaged deals, and oceanfront locations, hotels and resorts have seemingly cornered the market on accommodations in Hawaii. However, this is far from the case. There are thousands of vacation rentals across the islands that afford the luxury of a home away from home—think full kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, and laundry facilities—in many desired locales, sometimes where hotels just can’t be.

If you don’t have a word-of-mouth reference for a particular vacation rental, start with the one of the trusted vacation rental websites, like vrbo.com and vacationrentals.com. Vacation rentals can take the form of stand-alone single-family homes, attached additions to homes, bungalows, condominiums, or apartments. They range in size from simple studios to multiple-bedroom mansions. They can be tucked away in a residential neighborhood or a cluster of privately owned bungalows and cabanas on a verdant slice of paradise—or they can form part of a condominium community, or a high-rise apartment tower. Like all accommodations, rentals with more bedrooms command a higher price. The décor of these properties can sway from modern, luxurious, and spectacular to outdated, cramped, and dirty. Vacation rentals are usually booked in weeklong increments. They speak to the Hawaii visitor that likes to stay in a particular locale and set up camp for an extended period of time. They are also great for families, as the full kitchen and laundry options afford the opportunity to entertain a family with ease.

So how do you navigate the myriad listings to find the right vacation rental for your stay? Research is the key. If you don’t have a word-of-mouth reference for a particular vacation rental, start with the one of the trusted vacation rental websites, like vrbo.com and vacationrentals.com. On these sites you’ll find full descriptions, reviews, photos, availability, and nightly rates. If you’re like me, scrolling through the pictures of the rentals in your locale and price range will narrow down the options quickly. Most vacation rentals require a minimum stay of three nights, though some will only rent by the week. Some vacation rentals will include amenities like beach chairs, snorkel gear, bodyboards, umbrellas, and other beach accessories. There is also a one-time, non-negotiable cleaning fee, which varies from property to property.

Often in Hawaii, your destination will dictate the type of vacation rental available. If you’re considering staying on O‘ahu’s North Shore, most likely you’ll be looking for a stand-alone single family home or an attached structure to a home. The same goes for Kailua town on O‘ahu. In the upscale hamlet of Princeville on Kauaii’s north shore the majority of vacation rentals are luxury condos. Maui and the Big Island also have many condos available. And you’ll even find vacation rental apartments in Waikiki. For your search, select your destination first, then be flexible about what type of vacation rental is available, because you’re not going to find a bungalow in Princeville.

If you’re on a budget, yet would still like to take advantage of a the comfort and accessibility of a vacation rental, there are deals to be had—but expect the living situation to be a bit “funky.” Maybe the Hawaiiana décor will be faded from thirty years of afternoon sun. Perhaps the rental unit will be a converted garage and you’ll be running into the owners quite often during your stay. Or the unit might only have an electric burner and a microwave for cooking. Another way to save money with vacation rentals is to go in together on a big unit with several parties. That five-bedroom condo might seem pricey, but split between three families, the price can really even out.

It is illegal in Hawaii to rent out vacation rentals without the proper license, but this doesn’t mean that illegal vacation rentals are not available. Be aware that an unlicensed vacation rental owner could double book the unit, change the terms or not provide what is promised and there is little to no recourse for the traveler. If you’re searching for a vacation rental through a reputable vacation rental website or a licensed property manager, you probably are in the clear to find a great, legitimate rental for the going rate. On-island property managers ensure that the owner is fully licensed and that your deposit, credit card information, and other vitals are safe throughout the transaction. That being said, just because a vacation rental is not licensed does not mean you’re going to get ripped off, so once again, research is the key.

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