National Parks | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Wed, 18 Oct 2017 02:20:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg National Parks | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Day Trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park https://moon.com/2017/10/day-trip-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/ https://moon.com/2017/10/day-trip-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:42:41 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60504 If all you have is one day to spend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, don’t sweat it. You can still see a lot (and plan a return trip as soon as you can) on a day trip.

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If all you have is one day to spend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, don’t sweat it. You can still see a lot (and plan a return trip as soon as you can) on a day trip.

Start the day in Gatlinburg with a stop at Sugarlands Visitor Center to pick up maps and find out about special events. Follow Little River Gorge Road west toward Cades Cove. You never move too fast on this curvy road, so slow down and take your time to soak up the views.

fields surround an unpaved road leading to the mountains in Cades Cove

Cades Cove is the picture of calm, rural beauty. Photo © Sean Pavone/123rf.

At Cades Cove, grab a map and a driving guide for the scenic 11-mile Cades Cove Loop, one of the most popular drives in the park (so you’ll find you’re not alone). Though there may be company—crowds even—this wide, verdant valley ringed by tall peaks is the very picture of calm, rural beauty. Stop for a walk to John Oliver Place, the Methodist or Primitive Baptist Church, or one of the many cabins that showcase the history of settlement here.

At the midpoint of Cades Cove Loop, stop for a hike to Abrams Falls, a pleasant 5-mile round-trip hike to a 20-foot waterfall. The entire hike should take 3 hours or less to complete, giving you plenty of time to complete the Cades Cove Loop before returning to grab lunch in Gatlinburg.

Abrams Falls tumbles into a creek surrounded by trees

Take a hike to Abrams Falls. Photo © Jim Vallee/iStock.

Newfound Gap Road connects Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Cherokee, North Carolina. Follow Newfound Gap Road south up and over the Smokies. In 23 miles, you’ll reach the turnoff to Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the park. If the weather is good, you’ll be able to see the observation tower at the summit as you drive up Newfound Gap. After the 8-mile drive to the parking area, make the short, steep hike to the top. If the summit is shrouded in clouds (and it may well be), continue south along the crest of the Smokies.

Stop at Newfound Gap to check out the Rockefeller Memorial, the place where president Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the park in 1940. As you continue east toward Cherokee, stop at any of the scenic overlooks along the way—you can’t go wrong.

The ramp to the viewing platform on Clingmans Dome

The ramp to the viewing platform on Clingmans Dome. Photo © Jason Frye.

You’ll draw close to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in North Carolina by the end of the day. Perfect timing, as every evening elk make an appearance in a field adjacent to the visitor center and the Mountain Farm Museum. While checking out the collection of historic structures at Mountain Farm, keep an eye out for elk; they will often cross right through the middle of this re-created farmstead on their way to dinner.

Spend your day trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park driving through peaceful valleys, taking in scenic mountain views, and visiting historic sites from Tennessee to North Carolina with this travel itinerary.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Death Valley Camping for Tents and RVs https://moon.com/2017/08/death-valley-camping-for-tents-and-rvs/ https://moon.com/2017/08/death-valley-camping-for-tents-and-rvs/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 17:09:50 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58471 Between the hidden springs, salt flats, and ghost towns, a whole desert is waiting to be explored. Plan your Death Valley camping trip at one of these campsites.

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There are 12 campgrounds in Death Valley National Park; with the exception of Furnace Creek Campground, all are first-come, first-served. Finding an open site is rarely a problem; however, Texas Spring Campground in Furnace Creek may fill during spring weekends. There are also primitive campgrounds and many opportunities for backcountry camping.

Campgrounds are open seasonally (either Oct.-May or May-Oct.) depending on their elevation. Check the National Park Service website for seasonal alerts prior to heading out on a Death Valley camping trip.

bathrooms and a tent in Furnace Creek

Texas Spring Campground is tucked into the hills above Furnace Creek. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Furnace Creek Campgrounds

There are four campgrounds clustered around Furnace Creek, all with their pros and cons. Furnace Creek Campground is the only campground open in summer. Texas Spring and Sunset Campgrounds are open October 15 to May 1. Furnace Creek and Sunset Campgrounds both sit at 196 feet below sea level, making them oppressively hot in summer, and Texas Spring, at sea level, is not much higher or cooler. Site passes for Sunset and Texas Spring are sold at automated kiosks that take major credit cards and cash. Passes are for general overnight admission but do not specify sites.

Summer at Furnace Creek can create its own kind of ghost town due to the excessive heat at lower elevations. If you are planning to camp in Death Valley in summer, you would be wise to camp at higher elevations in other sections of the park.

Tip: All campgrounds can get very windy at night regardless of the time of year or the temperature. If you are tent camping, make sure you have your tent properly staked, and make sure everything that could be blown away is secured (camp chairs love to catch air when you’re not watching). If you’re relying on RV electric hookups, don’t be surprised by electricity surges.

Furnace Creek RV Park and Fiddlers Campground

Located at Furnace Creek Ranch, the privately run Furnace Creek RV Park and Fiddlers Campground (760/786-2345 or 800/236-7916, $18-38) offers 36 RV sites with full hookups and 35 RV or tent sites (no hookups). While not the place for those seeking desert solitude, it does include amenities such as wireless Internet and access to Furnace Creek Ranch’s pool, showers, and sports facilities. Communal picnic tables and fire pits are available within the campground but not at individual sites. Sites can be reserved year-round through Furnace Creek Ranch.

Furnace Creek Campground

The Furnace Creek Campground (877/444-6777, year-round, $18) is an RV and tent campground with 136 sites. It’s the only public campground that takes reservations (Oct. 15-Apr. 15) in Death Valley, so for busy weekends in spring or on holidays, or for travelers who like to have a set itinerary, this is a good option. From mid-April to mid-October, sites are first-come, first-served; reservations are not accepted and the fee is reduced to $12. The campground is right next to Furnace Creek Ranch, so while it’s easy to walk to dining and amenities, it also means this is not the serene desert escape you might be looking for. The surrounding valley and hills provide a beautiful setting, but the campground itself can be crowded and disorderly. There are some walk-in tent sites, which afford slightly more serenity. Day passes ($5) are available for the Furnace Creek Ranch pool and showers. This might be a selling point if you’re staying for several days or are visiting in the hotter parts of the year.

Sunset Campground

Sunset Campground (first-come, first-served, Oct.-May, $12) is across the road from Furnace Creek Campground and conveniently located near the services at Furnace Creek Ranch. With 270 sites, it caters mainly to RVs and is peaceful but spare, meaning it is basically a very scenically located parking lot. Amenities include water, flush toilets, and a dump station. It’s useful as an overflow if Furnace Creek Campground is full or to avoid some of the congestion there.

Texas Spring Campground

Texas Spring (first-come, first-served, Oct.-May, $14) shares an entrance with Sunset Campground, but it is a little more scenic, tucked farther into the hills with tamarisks offering shade at a few of the sites. This also means that it is the most popular campground in the area, and its 92 tent and RV sites fill up quickly. Amenities include water, picnic tables, fire pits, flush toilets, and a dump station.

Backcountry Camping in Furnace Creek

Furnace Creek has the most restrictions on where backcountry camping is allowed. Camping is not allowed on the valley floor from Ashford Mill in the south to two miles north of Stovepipe Wells. Camping is also not allowed directly off the West Side Road, but it is permitted along some of the Panamint Mountain canyon roads that are accessed by the West Side Road. To camp off the canyon roads, such as Johnson and Hanaupah Canyons, you must drive at least two miles in along any of the canyon roads from the West Side Road. (Pay attention to any posted signs, as the two-mile mark is a general rule of thumb, and some canyon roads may require you to go farther from the West Side Road.)

Backcountry sites are unmarked and have no amenities; look for spots that are flat, have easy turnouts, or look like they have been camped in before. The roads in this area become increasingly rough farther toward the canyon; if you’re driving a basic, high-clearance vehicle, such as a city SUV, you might not want to venture much past the two-mile mark. If you do snag one of these canyon spots, they can be austere and quiet with views of Badwater Basin glowing in the distance; however, they can be very windy, especially at night.

Amenities sign at Stovepipe Wells

The campgrounds at Stovepipe Wells feature views of the Cottonwood Mountains. Photo © aiwells/flickr, licensed CCBY.

Stovepipe Wells Campgrounds

The campground at Stovepipe Wells (190 sites, first-come, first-served, Sept. 15-early May, $12) has tent sites and RV sites with hookups. This is a central location for exploring a big swath of Death Valley. Beyond the prime location, the campground mostly resembles a parking lot, although the surrounding desert and Cottonwood Mountains are lovely in their austerity. The campground sits right at sea level, and the sites are completely exposed, which means it can be blazingly hot, and there is no privacy. Prepare to become friends with your neighbors. Amenities include picnic tables, potable water, and flush toilets. There is access to the Stovepipe Wells Hotel pool and showers ($4 per day).

Stovepipe Wells RV Park (14 sites, year-round, $32.75) shares space with the Stovepipe Wells campground; sites are located next to the General Store. RV fees include access to the swimming pool and to Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby.

Backcountry Camping in Stovepipe Wells

If you’re adventurous and prepared, backcountry camping might be a better and certainly more scenic option than the developed campground at Stovepipe Wells.

Backcountry camping is not allowed off Titus Canyon Road, Mosaic Canyon Road, Grotto Canyon Road, the first eight miles of Cottonwood Canyon Road, or on the valley floor from two miles north of Stovepipe Wells down to Ashford Mill in the Furnace Creek region. This list limits your options since it covers most of the roads that enter the region’s mountains and scenic bypasses.

Cottonwood Canyon makes a fine camp, as long as you camp beyond the first eight miles; it is scenic and has a water source. Chloride City, in the Nevada Triangle area, offers backcountry options in a scoured landscape with the Funeral Mountains as the backdrop. You’ll have no problem finding a place all to yourself out here.

picnic table and campfire in Death Valley

Campsites at Mesquite Spring are tucked along low hills. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Scotty’s Castle and Eureka Valley Campgrounds

There are no services in the Eureka Valley region—no hotels, restaurants, or gas. The park hubs of Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek are one to three hours’ drive south, and the closest services are in Big Pine, about 50 miles (two hours) west. Scotty’s Castle offers some bottled drinks and premade sandwiches, but hours are limited, and there are no other supplies. Bring your own food and water, make sure you have enough gas, and be prepared to camp.

Mesquite Spring Campgrounds

Mesquite Spring (30 sites, first-come, first-served, year-round, $12) is the only developed campground in the region. It’s a pretty campground, dotted with mesquite bushes and set along low hills less than five miles west from Scotty’s Castle. At an elevation of 1,800 feet, the temperature is bearable most of the year, except summer. Sites are exposed, but spaced far enough apart that you get some privacy. Though reservations aren’t accepted, it’s very likely you’ll get a spot, even in the busy spring season. Stop to reserve a spot first thing in the morning; pay via an automated kiosk, which takes credit cards and cash, and put your receipt on the site marker. Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, and access to flush toilets and water; there are no RV hookups, but there is a dump station.

Directions

The turnoff to Mesquite Spring is located 0.6 mile south of the intersection of Scotty’s Castle Road and Highway 190; from the turnoff, continue 1.9 miles south to the campground.

Eureka Dunes Dry Camp

Eureka Dunes Dry Camp (first-come, first-served, free) is a small, primitive maintained campground. A stay here puts you within easy distance of the remote Eureka Dunes. Sites have fire pits and sturdy cement picnic tables; there is no water and no electric hookups, but there is a pit toilet. If all the sites are full, there are backcountry camping spaces just beyond the campground off Eureka Road. The only thing that distinguishes them from the official campsites is their lack of a picnic table and a fire pit.

Directions

To get here from the intersection of Scotty’s Castle Road and Highway 190, head north for 2.8 miles and continue on Big Pine-Death Valley Road for 21.8 miles. At Crankshaft Crossing, marked by a sign and rusted crankshafts, turn left (southwest) to stay on Big Pine-Death Valley Road. The turnoff to Eureka Dry Camp is 12.2 miles farther. Turn left onto the South Eureka Road and drive 9.6 miles to the campground at the base of the dunes. Big Pine-Death Valley Road, as well as Eureka Dunes Road, are graded dirt roads usually suitable for passenger cars and good enough to bring a camper or RV to this spot.

Homestake Dry Camp

In Racetrack Valley, your best bet is Homestake Dry Camp (first-come, first-served, free), a primitive maintained campground. Four camp spaces have been graded so that you can comfortably park and pitch a tent. In the highly unlikely event that these sites are full, simply set up camp nearby. The only amenity is one decrepit pit toilet, and there are no fire pits provided, so fires are not permitted. Bring your own water. Despite the lack of amenities, the campground serves as a good base to explore the surrounding area—Ubehebe Peak, the Racetrack, Lippincott Mine, Ubehebe Lead Mine, and Corridor Canyon.

Directions

To reach Homestake Dry Camp, access the Racetrack Valley Road from where it leaves paved Highway 190 and drive 19.4 miles south to Teakettle Junction. Continue south on the Racetrack Valley Road for eight miles to the southern end of the Racetrack playa. Continue two miles south beyond the playa, a total of 29.4 miles from Highway 190, to a small campground sign and the graded camping spaces that mark Homestake Dry Camp.

Backcountry Camping near Scotty’s Castle and Eureka Valley

Only a few roads traverse this region, so it’s important to know where backcountry car camping is allowed. The main dirt road, Racetrack Valley Road, is tempting, but there is no camping between Teakettle Junction and Homestake Dry Camp.

Instead, consider turning left at Teakettle Junction and heading south along Hidden Valley Road toward Hunter Mountain. The road is passable in a high-clearance vehicle for 13 miles to the area around Goldbelt Spring, at the base of Hunter Mountain. Beyond Goldbelt Spring, the road becomes 4WD-only as it climbs Hunter Mountain.

If you plan to rock-climb or explore the Cottonwood Mountain Canyons, camp in the vicinity of White Top Mountain. White Top Mountain Road is located off Hidden Valley Road; take the left turn at the junction 3.2 miles south of Teakettle Junction. The road begins as passable for high-clearance vehicles, then requires a 4WD vehicle after about five miles. There is no camping allowed at the Ubehebe Mine or the Lost Burro Mine.

tent cabin in Death Valley

Panamint Springs Resort offers tent cabins. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Panamint Springs and Saline Valley Campgrounds

Panamint Springs Resort

The Panamint Springs Resort Campground (40440 Hwy. 190, 775/482-7680, 7am-9:30pm daily year-round, $10-65) has a total of 76 accommodations, including tent cabins (1-5 people, $35-65), RV sites (30- and 50-amp hookups, $20-35), tent sites (1 tent, 1 vehicle, $10), and one group site. All sites have fire pits; most have picnic tables. Amenities include drinking water and flush toilets. Best of all, they have hot showers (free with a site, fee for nonguests), a rarity in Death Valley campgrounds (Furnace Creek, the crowded hub on the other side of the park, is the only other campground with showers). The campsites can fill quickly, so make reservations well ahead of time. There is a surcharge of $5 for pets in RV and tent sites.

Emigrant Campgrounds

Emigrant Campground (10 sites, first-come, first-serve, year-round, free) is a tiny tent-only campground located at the junction of Highway 190 and Emigrant Canyon Road. It’s a pretty spot that more closely resembles a day-use area. Sites are small, close together, and exposed to the open desert. It’s too small to serve as a base camp for several days, but it will do in a pinch. At 2,100 feet elevation and with no shade, it can be uncomfortably hot in summer, although cooler than the valley floor (but almost any place is cooler than the valley floor). Amenities include picnic tables, drinking water, and restrooms with flush toilets.

Directions

Emigrant is located directly off paved Highway 190, approximately 21 miles east of Panamint Springs, so it’s easy to access and centrally located.

Wildrose Campgrounds

Cheerful and sunny Wildrose Campground (23 sites, first-come, first-served, year-round, free) is tucked away at the lower end of Wildrose Canyon. At 4,100 feet elevation, the camp sits at a good mid-level point to avoid the scorching temperatures of the valley floor in summer and the snow of the higher elevations. Unlike the seasonal campgrounds located at the higher elevations of the canyon, Wildrose is open year-round and rarely fills up. Its level sites don’t offer privacy or shade, but it’s a peaceful campground in a quiet and lovely section of the park. It’s a great place to set up a base camp for exploring the Emigrant and Wildrose Canyon areas, with easy access to Skidoo, the Charcoal Kilns, Wildrose Peak, and Telescope Peak. Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, potable water, and pit toilets; the campground is also accessible to small trailers.

Directions

To get here from the north, take Emigrant Canyon Road south toward Wildrose Canyon from Highway 190 for approximately 21 miles, to the end of Emigrant Canyon Road. From the south, Trona Wildrose Road veers past it approximately 46 miles north of Trona. Trona Wildrose Road is prone to washouts, and the road was closed for most of 2014. Pay attention to park alerts, and check for road closures before planning your route.

Thorndike Campgrounds

Rocky and remote Thorndike Campground (6 sites, first-come, first-served, Mar.-Nov., free) is perched between the canyon walls high up in Wildrose Canyon. This campground lies between Wildrose Campground, downcanyon, and Mahogany Flat, at the top of the canyon, which means it can get overlooked. Since it’s lightly visited, you should have no problem getting a spot; you might even have it all to yourself. The combination of steep canyon walls, a perch off the winding canyon road, and winds whipping downcanyon through gnarled juniper trees gives this place a wild and forgotten feel. However, the sheerness of the canyon walls cuts in on the daylight hours, so when the sun dips, it can get chilly. Bring firewood, as the nights can get surprisingly cold, even in summer. However, this can be a welcome relief when it’s too hot at lower elevations.

Almost all campsites are shaded—a rarity in Death Valley. Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, and pit toilets; there is no drinking water available (the closest drinking water is at Wildrose Campground, about eight miles downcanyon). If you want to hike both Telescope Peak and Wildrose Peak, this is a great home base.

At 7,400 feet elevation, snow can make access impossible to vehicles from November to March.

Directions

To get here from the north, take Emigrant Canyon Road south toward Wildrose Canyon from Highway 190 for approximately 21 miles, to the end of Emigrant Canyon Road at Wildrose Campground. At Wildrose Campground, take Wildrose Canyon Road another nine miles up the canyon. The pavement ends at seven miles, at the Charcoal Kilns. The gravel road is steep and rocky from here. A high-clearance vehicle is necessary; a 4WD vehicle is preferable when navigating snow, ice, or washouts. The road is not accessible to trailers. From the south, drive Trona Wildrose Road 46 miles north of Trona to the Wildrose Campground, and then drive an additional nine miles up Wildrose Canyon Road. Keep in mind that Trona Wildrose Road is prone to washouts. If the road is closed, you might have to bypass it.

Mahogany Flat Campgrounds

Perched at the top of Wildrose Canyon, Mahogany Flat Campground (10 sites, first-come, first-served, Mar.-Nov., free) offers cool temperatures, sweeping views, and access to Telescope Peak, the highest mountain peak in the park. At 8,200 feet elevation, expect cool nights, which can be a lifesaver in the summer. Many people use this campground as a jumping-off point to hike Telescope Peak, since the trailhead starts just outside the campground. It gets some traffic because of the popularity of Telescope Peak, but you are still likely to find a spot.

Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, and pit toilets; there is no drinking water available (the closest water is at Wildrose Campground, about nine miles down canyon). Snow may make the campground inaccessible November through March.

Directions

To get here from the north, take Emigrant Canyon Road south toward Wildrose Canyon from Highway 190 for approximately 21 miles, to the end of Emigrant Canyon Road at Wildrose Campground. At Wildrose Campground, take Wildrose Canyon Road another 11 miles up the canyon to the end of the road at the campground. The road gets slightly steeper and rockier past Thorndike Campground. A high-clearance vehicle is necessary; a 4WD vehicle is better when navigating snow, ice, or washouts. From the south, drive Trona Wildrose Road 46 miles north of Trona to Wildrose Campground, and then drive an additional 11 miles up the Wildrose Canyon Road until it ends at the campground.

Backcountry Camping in Panamint Springs and Saline Valley

Depending on where you go, backcountry camping could be your only option—or your best option.

In the Emigrant Canyon and Wildrose Canyon areas, developed campgrounds are the best bet; the most tempting backcountry choices here are off-limits. Backcountry camping is not allowed off Skidoo Road, Wildrose Canyon Road, or Aguereberry Point Road. These are all considered day-use only roads and are some of the only roads in the area.

Western Panamint Canyons Campgrounds

When exploring the western Panamint Canyons, backcountry camping is the only choice, unless you commute from Panamint Springs or Wildrose Canyon for day explorations only. Of course, this limits your fun. The Western Canyons, including Surprise Canyon and Jail Canyon, are popular backpacking and 4WD trails. Many of these canyons begin on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and cross into the jurisdiction of Death Valley National Park. When camping on BLM land, or for any backcountry camping, camp in a site that has already been disturbed (sometimes called a dispersed site or dispersed camping). To locate dispersed sites, look for pullouts or spurs off the road that are hard-packed and devoid of vegetation. These are not labeled as campsites, but if you know what to look for, you can have an enjoyable backcountry experience.

If you want to set up a main base camp or give yourself a fresh start for backpacking or exploring the 4WD trails in the canyons, the ghost town of Ballarat is a good place to start. There are no supplies aside from the cold soda and beer in the caretaker’s icebox, but you will be strategically located to get your fill of old mining camps, rocky creeks, and sculpted canyon walls.

Saline Valley Campgrounds

Saline Valley Warm Springs has semideveloped camping spots. These sites are used primarily by people visiting the springs. There are well-maintained pit toilets and outdoor shower stations with water piped from the hot springs. There are no fees for camping, and drinking water is not available. From Saline Valley Road, the primitive 6.8-mile road to the camp can be sandy and hard to follow.

Maps - Death Valley National Park 1e - Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park


Planning a Death Valley camping trip? Here's a look at all 12 campgrounds in the park, including rates and reservation information.


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

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Explore Interior Alaska in One Week https://moon.com/2017/08/explore-interior-alaska-in-one-week/ https://moon.com/2017/08/explore-interior-alaska-in-one-week/#respond Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:55:44 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57915 People come to Interior Alaska for the gold-mining history, dog mushing, the northern lights—and Denali National Park. This one-week itinerary includes everything you need to explore this remote part of the state.

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People come to Interior Alaska for the gold-mining history, dog mushing, the northern lights—and Denali National Park. This one-week itinerary includes everything you need to explore this remote part of the state.

dogs pulling a sled in the Iditarod

The Iditarod is one of Alaska’s most famous winter events. Photo © Lisa Maloney.

Day 1

Welcome to Fairbanks! As you get settled, take the time to visit Gold Daughters and learn how to pan for gold from a pair of talented women who grew up giving demonstrations to tourists. Don’t miss the Pipeline Viewing Station just across the highway, where you can get up close to the 800-mile pipeline that transfers crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.

Next, if you love Christmas, make the 20-minute drive southeast to the year-round Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. End the day at Pioneer Park, filled with historical buildings, mining equipment, an all-you-can-eat salmon bake, and a hilarious dinner theater show about the history of Fairbanks. Let the front desk at your hotel know you’d like to be woken up if the northern lights come out.

Day 2

Choose your big adventure for the day: If you want a day of relaxation, head out to Chena Hot Springs for hot springs and an ice museum. If you want a more extreme adventure, you can book a day trip to a more remote area: Fly out to the traditional, isolated village of Anaktuvuk Pass for a day tour to learn more about Alaska Native culture, or get up very early to fly halfway up the Haul Road (aka the Dalton Highway) and then drive back with Northern Alaska Tour Company. You can also hitch a ride on the mail plane to a rural village with Warbelow’s Air. You won’t get to spend any real time in the village(s)—the plane just drops off the mail then takes off again. But getting to flit out to a remote village in a small plane is still a fun, exciting experience for many people.

Day 3

Book a morning tour at the Running Reindeer Ranch, where you get to take a short nature walk with a herd of reindeer running wild around you; it’s perfectly safe but surprisingly exhilarating, and you’ll learn a lot about the domesticated cousin to Alaska’s wild caribou. Next, stop by the stunning Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Then head downtown to visit The Crepery for one of Fairbanks’s best lunches, and a stop by the Alaska House Art Gallery for a glimpse at the region’s best Alaska Native art.

That evening, make the 2.5-hour drive south to Denali National Park and Preserve, get settled in your hotel or campground.

caribou running across green grass in Denali National Park

A caribou dashes across the tundra in front of Denali. Photo © Daniel Leifheit/National Park Service.

Day 4

Take either a narrated tour bus or a shuttle bus ride into Denali National Park and Preserve. The difference is more than just narration; shuttle buses will stop for photo ops and to let people hop on and off, while the narrated tour buses only stop for photo ops. There are many shuttle and tour bus trips into the park every day, each of them of varying length; you get to choose if you want to spend five hours on a “short” trip or twelve hours on a bus ride that goes all the way to the end of the road.

Wildlife sightings are never guaranteed—after all, the animals are wild and wander as they please—but most visitors are still eager for a chance to see bears, caribou, moose, and wolves in the wild. If you take one of the shorter rides, you’ll have time for a short day hike before you check out the restaurants near the park entrance. If you have a car, get dinner at the 49th State Brewing Company in nearby Healy; it has the bus that was used for filming Into the Wild set up so you can take selfies or photos to your heart’s content. It also offers shuttle service to the carless for a nominal fee.

Day 5

Check out the park’s three visitor centers, if you haven’t already, and visit their working kennel of sled dogs, or book a day tour of your choice. Options include everything from white-water rafting to horseback rides, dog cart rides, ATV rides, and ziplining. Then make the 2.5-hour drive south to Talkeetna.

red airplane on Ruth Glacier

Many flightseeing expeditions around Denali also include a glacier landing. Photo © Richard McMillin/iStock.

Day 6

Once you’ve arrived in Talkeetna, it’s time to book that flightseeing trip around Denali, using one of the small airlines that also ferry climbers back and forth to Denali base camp. If you don’t like small planes you have lots of other day tour options, including a jet boat ride on the mighty rivers nearby, fishing, or ziplining. End your day with live music at the Fairview Inn or a great dinner at Mountain High Pizza Pie, Twister Creek Restaurant, or the Wildflower Cafe; they’re all excellent.

Day 7

Hop on the Hurricane Turn Train, a delightful narrated trip on one of the nation’s last flag stop trains. When you get back, make it a point to wander the shops along Main Street (they’re all locally owned) before you make the drive back to Fairbanks or south to explore Southcentral.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Alaska.

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10 Fun Activities in Yosemite for Families https://moon.com/2017/08/10-fun-activities-in-yosemite-for-families/ https://moon.com/2017/08/10-fun-activities-in-yosemite-for-families/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 17:00:00 +0000 http://moon.com?p=22033&preview_id=22033 Whether you're headed to Yosemite for your first family vacation or you've been a dozen times already, you may be looking for ideas to help your kids experience the best of this beautiful park. This list of ten activities in Yosemite is kid-approved and offers fun for the whole family.

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Whether you’re headed to Yosemite for your first family vacation or you’ve been a dozen times already, you may be looking for ideas to help your kids experience the best of this beautiful park. This list of ten activities in Yosemite is kid-approved and offers fun for the whole family.

young girl walking in Yosemite

Yosemite offers fun activities for the whole family. Photo © Star80z/iStock.

  1. Rent bikes at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) or Yosemite Lodge recreation centers and ride around Yosemite Valley. Don’t worry about it being a tough ride; 12 miles of smooth, level paths make it easy for everybody to keep up. Bikes are available year-round, and bikes with kid-trailers attached are available for children too young to ride on their own.
  2. Go for a hike on the quieter trails off Glacier Point Road. The easy trails to Taft Point and Sentinel Dome make good family hikes; each is only 2.2 miles round-trip. The Glacier Point Snack Stand is a nice stop for a tasty reward for all that hard work, and the view is amazing. If you’re there in the evening, there’s a ranger talk to get kids interested, and the point is a great place for stargazing with or without a telescope.
  3. Sign up for rock climbing lessons at the Yosemite Mountaineering School. The guides there are well equipped for beginners of all ages, and kids will always get a kick out of permission to climb all over everything.
  4. Go see a live show at the Yosemite Theater. Kids’ tickets are discounted.
  5. Drive to the giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove and buy tickets for the open-air tram tour through the big trees.
  6. Take a trip through history at the Pioneer Yosemite History Museum in Wawona and treat everybody to a ride in a horse-drawn wagon.
  7. In early summer, float in a raft on the Merced River. You’ll start your river journey at Half Dome Village and meander three miles downstream to a shuttle bus that’ll return you to your starting point. Since rafting is generally only safe in June and July, a nice alternative for water fun later in summer is a swim at Sentinel Beach.
  8. Sign up for a guided two-hour morning mule ride at the Yosemite Valley Stables or Big Trees Stables. Calm and even tempered, mules are a great companion for kids to explore the park, and these sure-footed animals are perfect for the rugged terrain. The two-hour ride at Yosemite Valley Stables heads to beautiful Mirror Lake, and the popular Big Trees Stables two-hour ride travels the historic wagon road.
  9. Go for a Junior Ranger Walk. Part of earning an official Junior Ranger badge, a Junior Ranger Walk is a one-hour expedition full of activities to keep kids hooked on the fun. Learn more about Yosemite’s Junior Ranger Programs.
  10. Stop in at the Yosemite Art and Education Center in Yosemite Valley to take part in children’s art classes. Watercolors are the focus here, so don’t worry too much about packing paint-friendly clothes but be prepared for the inevitable face and body painting with some easy clean up wipes.

Whether you're headed to Yosemite with kids for the first time or you've been a dozen times already, you may be looking for things to do in the park. This list of ten activities in Yosemite is kid-approved and offers fun for the whole family.

For more ideas and customizable travel itineraries, pick up a copy of Moon Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon.

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Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds https://moon.com/2017/08/joshua-tree-national-park-campgrounds/ https://moon.com/2017/08/joshua-tree-national-park-campgrounds/#respond Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:51:17 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58272 Backcountry, RV, or tent—whatever your overnight preference, Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds offer a little something for every outdoor adventurer.

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Backcountry, RV, or tent—whatever your overnight preference, Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds offer a little something for every outdoor adventurer.

There are seven NPS campgrounds located within the park boundaries, two of which—Black Rock Campground and Indian Cove Campground—accept seasonal reservations October through May. The other five campgrounds are first-come, first-served year-round.

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree start to fill up on Thursday mornings most weekends October through May, beginning with the more popular and centrally located campsites like Hidden Valley, Jumbo Rocks, and Ryan Campground, which have sites tucked in among Joshua Tree’s famous boulders and Joshua trees. By Thursday evening, your options are limited. If you can’t make it into the park by Thursday afternoon, and you don’t have a reservation, better have a contingency plan. Fortunately, there is overflow camping and private camping available outside the park boundaries. In summer, all campgrounds are first-come, first-served.

Only three campgrounds—Black Rock, Indian Cove, and Cottonwood—have drinking water. Even if you are staying at one of these campgrounds, it is wise to bring at least two gallons of water (per person per day) with you into the park.

There are no RV hookups at any of the park campgrounds. Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds have RV-accessible potable water and dump stations, and there are spaces that can accommodate trailers under 25 feet at Hidden Valley and White Tank Campgrounds.

camper and car at a campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds have RV-accessible potable water and dump stations, and there are spaces that can accommodate trailers under 25 feet at Hidden Valley and White Tank Campgrounds. Photo © Steven Kriemadis/iStock.

Campgrounds Inside Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock Canyon Campground

Black Rock Canyon Campground (99 sites, 877/444-6777, $20) is in the northwest corner of Joshua Tree, just south of the town of Yucca Valley. Black Rock Canyon has a distinct geographic feel; instead of boulder jumbles, you’ll find rolling hills dotted with Joshua trees and yuccas. This is a good campground for first-time visitors, as drinking water is available and the location offers easy access to Yucca Valley for supplies. This campground also offers limited equestrian sites (by reservation only), and trailer and RV sites with water fill-up and dump stations are also available. Campground amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, and a small visitors center with maps and guides.

The road in dead-ends at the campground, and there is no driving access into the rest of the park. A series of hiking trails, including the short Hi-View Nature Trail, the view-filled Eureka Peak, Panorama Loop, and Warren Peak trails, leave from the campground and offer access into the park by foot. The trailhead for the 35-mile California Riding and Hiking Trail also starts at the campground.

Reservations are accepted online from October through May up to six months in advance. To get there from Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, turn south on Joshua Lane and drive five miles into the park.

Hidden Valley

Central Hidden Valley (44 sites, first-come, first-served year-round, $15) tends to be the most difficult campground to get a spot in. On the southern end of the Wonderland of Rocks, the campground is popular with rock climbers … and everyone else. Its sites are picturesquely set amidst Joshua Tree’s signature boulders, and you are right in the heart of the park. The campground can accommodate trailers and RVs (under 25 feet), and amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is no drinking water.

Reservations are not accepted. To reach Hidden Valley from the Joshua Tree Visitors Center on Highway 62, turn south onto Park Boulevard and continue 14 miles to the intersection with Barker Dam Road. The campground will be to the left.

Ryan Campground

Ryan Campground (31 sites, first-come, first-served year-round, $15) is a scenic campground centrally located between Hidden Valley and Jumbo Rocks with campsites interspersed among boulders and Joshua trees. The adjoining Ryan Horse Camp (760/367-5545, $15) offers four equestrian sites by reservation only from October through May. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is no drinking water.

Reservations are not accepted. To reach Ryan Campground from the Joshua Tree Visitors Center on Highway 62, follow Park Boulevard south for 27 miles, passing the Hidden Valley Campground. Immediately past the Keys View Road turn-off, the campground will appear on the right.

Sheep Pass Group Camp

Towering rock formations and Joshua trees surround Sheep Pass Group Camp (6 sites, 877/444-6777, $35-50), a tent-only group campground centrally located off of Park Boulevard in between Ryan and Jumbo Rocks Campgrounds. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is no drinking water.

Reservations are required and can be made up to one year in advance. The campground is 18 miles south of the West Entrance and 16 miles south of the North Entrance.

campsite with large rocks surrounding it in the desert

Jumbo Rocks is the largest campground in the park. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks (124 sites, first-come, first-served year-round, $15) is the largest campground in the park. Despite its size, sites fill up quickly thanks to a convenient location along Park Boulevard and access to plentiful rock climbing opportunities, as well as the Skull Rock Nature Trail. Popular sites are scenically tucked into the large rock formations for which the campground is named, but the sheer volume of sites leaves little privacy. This lends the place the feel of a small village, which may be good for families or groups. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is no drinking water.

Reservations are not accepted. To reach Jumbo Rocks from the North Entrance in Twentynine Palms, follow Utah Trail south as it becomes Park Boulevard and continue southwest for eight miles. From the West Entrance in Joshua Tree, it is a drive of about 24 miles.

Belle Campground

Belle Campground (18 sites, first-come, first-served Oct.-May, $15) is a small, low-key campground with cozy sites tucked amid a pile of rock formations. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is no drinking water.

Reservations are not accepted. To reach Belle from the North Entrance in Twentynine Palms, follow Utah Trail south as it becomes Park Boulevard and continue about 5 miles to the junction with Pinto Basin Road. Follow Pinto Basin Road 1.5 miles south, turning left onto Belle Campground Road.

White Tank Campground

The smallest campground in the park, White Tank (15 sites, first-come, first-served year-round, $15) is a laid-back campground with sites tucked in amid scattered rock formations. Sites can accommodate trailers and RVs (under 25 feet). Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is no drinking water.

Reservations are not accepted. White Tank is located just south of Belle Campground along Pinto Basin Road, about 7.4 miles south of the North Entrance.

Indian Cove

Indian Cove (101 sites, first-come, first-served June-Sept., $20) is one of two campgrounds in the park that accepts reservations (877/444-6777, Oct.-May) and it has drinking water available at the ranger station just two miles away. The sites are tucked into spectacular boulder formations and offer both group and RV (under 25 feet) camping options. Indian Cove sits on the northern edge of the Wonderland of Rocks and is popular with rock climbers; the north end of the popular Boy Scout Trail also begins here. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables, and access to drinking water.

The campground is located off Highway 62, between the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, and is accessed via Indian Cove Road South. The road dead-ends at the campground, so there is no vehicle access into the rest of the park. The nearest park entrance is the North Entrance in Twentynine Palms.

campsite with table and chairs in Joshua Tree

Cottonwood Campground in Pinto Basin. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Cottonwood Campground

The area around Cottonwood Campground (62 sites, first-come, first-served year-round, $20) is much more lightly visited than the Hidden Valley region, which makes finding a site here slightly less competitive. Still, you should plan to be here by Friday morning on weekends from October through May. The campsites are scattered across an open desert dotted with creosote. Though there is little to divide them, the sites are nicely spaced and offer some privacy. The nearby Cottonwood Visitors Center is a fully stocked visitors center and bookstore, while hiking trails to scenic Lost Palms Oasis and Mastodon Peak depart directly from the campground. There are also trailer and RV sites with water fill-up and a dump station. The Cottonwood Group Campground (3 sites, 877/444-6777, $35-40) provides tent-only sites by reservation. Amenities include flush toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, and drinking water.

Reservations are not accepted. Cottonwood Campground is located in the Pinto Basin at the South Entrance to the park. From I-10 south of the park, take Cottonwood Spring Road north for about 10 miles. At the Cottonwood Visitors Center, turn right onto Cottonwood Oasis Road and continue 7.5 miles to the campground on the left.

Campgrounds Outside Joshua Tree National Park

Campgrounds in the park fill quickly October through May. Outside the park, options include backcountry camping on BLM land or at a privately owned RV park in Joshua Tree.

BLM Camping

Overflow camping is available on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land both north and south of the park. Note that BLM camping includes no amenities (toilets, water, fire pits, or drinking water). Fires are allowed in self-contained metal fire pits (provide your own) in the overflow camping south of the park, but are not allowed on BLM camping north of the park. Bring your own firewood.

For camping north of the park: Drive four miles east of Park Boulevard on Highway 62 and turn left (north) on Sunfair Road. Continue two miles to Broadway, then turn right (east) on Broadway, where the pavement ends. Drive one mile to a one-lane, unmarked dirt road (Cascade) at a line of telephone poles running north and south. Turn left (north) onto Cascade, and drive 0.5-mile until you pass a single-lane, unmarked dirt road. Camping is allowed on the right (east) side of that road for 0.5-mile beginning with the unmarked dirt road.

For camping south of the park: Drive six miles south of the Cottonwood Visitors Center, passing the park boundary sign. Just beyond the aqueduct, turn right or left on the unmarked water district road. Camping is allowed south of the water district road west and east of the Cottonwood Road. South of I-10, Cottonwood Road turns into Box Canyon Road; camping is allowed south of I-10 on both the east and west sides of Box Canyon Road.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground (2601 Sunfair Rd., Joshua Tree, 760/366-1213, first-come, first-served, $10 pp tent sites, $4 children 12 and under; $20-30 RV sites) is 14 miles north of the West Entrance. The property offers tent and RV camping on exposed desert. Sites include picnic tables and fire pits, and the campground has a small fishing lake, a camp store with firewood and basic supplies, RV hookups, hot showers, flush toilets, and a playground.

Backcountry, RV, or tent—whatever your overnight preference, Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds offer a little something for every outdoor adventurer. Find your perfect sleeping spot with this guide.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Palm Springs & Joshua Tree.

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Scenic Rocky Mountain Drive: Trail Ridge Road https://moon.com/2017/08/scenic-rocky-mountain-drive-trail-ridge-road/ https://moon.com/2017/08/scenic-rocky-mountain-drive-trail-ridge-road/#respond Mon, 07 Aug 2017 17:43:10 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58223 Trail Ridge Road, the 48-mile paved road between Estes Park and Grand Lake, is the only road that crosses Rocky Mountain National Park. Driving it is an awe-inspiring adventure with stunning views that Horace Albright, a former director of the National Park Service, described as “the whole sweep of the Rockies before you in all directions.”

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Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34, May-mid-Oct.), the 48-mile paved road between Estes Park and Grand Lake, is the only road that crosses Rocky Mountain National Park. The country’s highest continuous paved road, Trail Ridge tops out at an impressive 12,183 feet. Although there are great views all along this scenic Rocky Mountain drive, the best are from the 11-mile section above tree line, where you are surrounded by windswept tundra stretching in every direction towards snow-capped peaks, dramatic steep-walled cirques, and deep valleys. This so-called Trail to the Sky offers some of the continent’s easiest access to the fragile tundra, where the growing season can last for as few as 40 days per year.

Trail Ridge Road winding through pine trees and mountains

Take a scenic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park on the “highway to the sky.” Photo © Ronda Kimbrow/iStock.

Trail Ridge Road was built between 1926 and 1932 to replace Old Fall River Road, which was too steep and narrow for drivers to easily navigate and too shady to provide early summer access. Thanks to its ridge-top location, Trail Ridge has less snow accumulation and more sunshine, attributes that allow the park service to open it much earlier—usually by Memorial Day weekend—and to keep it open until mid-October. Each year in mid-May, two veteran road crews, one on each side of the park, begin the painstaking and dangerous job of removing the 30 feet of snow that typically cover the road and whose layers often linger along the side until late June. Even after the crews meet, the park service sometimes needs to temporarily close the road, especially to avoid dangerous black ice.

Once Trail Ridge is open, driving it is an awe-inspiring adventure with stunning views that Horace Albright, a former director of the National Park Service, described as “the whole sweep of the Rockies before you in all directions.” From the lush, montane forests and fertile lowlands at either end, the road quickly climbs up to the tundra, a harsh environment where fierce winds, strong ultraviolet light, and intense cold greatly limit the plants and animals found here. Yet for a few precious weeks each summer, the tundra is home to carpets of dozens of different types of tiny wildflowers, glistening alpine lakes, and migratory and resident wildlife, which you can often spot from your car.

Fortunately for drivers, there are many pullouts along the way, which are safe places to stop and snap photos and enjoy the forever views. From east to west, great viewpoints include Hidden Valley, where you can often spot chipmunks, Many Parks Curve, the highest point to which the eastern side of Trail Ridge is plowed in winter, and Rainbow Curve, where you can see the flat Great Plains stretching far to the east. Farther west along the road, you can learn more about the tundra at the Tundra World Nature Trail, an easy half-hour walk from the Rock Cut. Two miles west of the road’s highest point, which is unmarked, the Alpine Visitor Center awaits.

Continuing west on Trail Ridge Road, you cross the Continental Divide at 10,758-foot Milner Pass and have stunning views into the upper Colorado River Valley from the aptly named Farview Curve, a short distance above the gate that closes the road in winter.

Alpine Visitor Center sign next to a winding road

The Alpine Visitor Center feels like it’s perched on top of the world. Photo © Ronda Kimbrow/iStock.

Alpine Visitor Center

Located at 11,796 feet in elevation, the Alpine Visitor Center (Trail Ridge Rd., 970/586-1222, 10:30am-4:30pm daily late May-mid-Oct.) feels like it’s perched on top of the world. Originally built in 1935, the center has been renovated several times, most recently in 2001. The building has a low profile and distinctive roof reinforced with large beams to withstand the fierce winds and crushing weight of dozens of feet of snow that can cover the structure in the winter. The center’s back windows and deck have one of the best views in Colorado, a panorama looking down Fall River Canyon toward Longs Peak and Estes Park far below.

The center has a few informative exhibits about the tundra, staff that can answer questions and help in case of an emergency, and restrooms (although it does not always have running water). Next door is the park’s only café, where you can also buy souvenirs.


Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Colorado.

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Best Campsites in Glacier National Park https://moon.com/2017/08/best-campsites-in-glacier-national-park/ https://moon.com/2017/08/best-campsites-in-glacier-national-park/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 23:03:57 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58100 While Glacier National Park houses a number of top-notch lodges, there's no better way to immerse yourself in the park's wild, rugged beauty than to camp under its crystal-clear skies, surrounded by the quiet humming of nature. Choose from any of the following campsites inside the park for the full Glacier experience.

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While Glacier National Park houses a number of top-notch lodges, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the park’s wild, rugged beauty than to camp under its crystal-clear skies, surrounded by the quiet humming of nature. Choose from any of the following campsites inside the park for the full Glacier experience. Keep in mind that most of the campgrounds within the park operate on a first-come, first-served basis—though St. Mary and Many Glacier accept some reservations starting six months in advance. Without a reservation, plan on arriving early, as these popular spots can fill up fast. Happy camping!

yellow tent lit up at night with stars above

Camp under the stars in Glacier National Park. Photo © gsbarclay/iStock.

West Glacier and Apgar Campgrounds

Two National Park Service-operated campgrounds flank Lake McDonald with sites under a forest canopy. Rustic and without hookups, they have flush toilets, fire rings with grills, disposal stations, shared hiker-biker sites ($5-8), amphitheaters for evening naturalist talks, and sites that accommodate large RVs. Due to the lakeside location inside the park, away from highway and railroad noise, they are popular. Midsummer, they fill up by 8am-9am. Bring your own firewood; collecting wood is prohibited.

Fish Creek Campground

Fish Creek Campground (end of Fish Creek Rd., 406/888-7800, June-early Sept., $23), one of two campgrounds in the park that can be reserved starting six months in advance (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov), is one of the larger park campgrounds, with 178 sites tucked under cedars, lodgepole pines, and larches. Loops C and D have the best sites, adjacent to the lake, although Loop B has some larger, more level sites. A few lukewarm token-operated showers are available. Eighteen campsites accommodate RVs up to 35 feet long; 62 sites fit RVs up to 27 feet. To find Fish Creek, drive 1.25 miles north from Apgar on Camas Road and turn right, dropping one mile down to the campground. Lake McDonald Trail departs from the campground.

Apgar Campground

Apgar Campground (Apgar Loop Rd., 0.4 mile from Going-to-the-Sun Rd., 406/888-7800, Apr.-Nov., $20) is within a short walking distance of Apgar Village, Lake McDonald, and the shuttles. The campground has 194 sites, making it the park’s largest, with group campsites too. For RVs, 25 sites fit up rigs to 40 feet. A paved trail connects with the Apgar Transit Center, the visitors center, and the Apgar Bike Trail. A separate walking path leads to Apgar Village’s restaurant, gift shops, and boat dock. Primitive camping (Apr. and mid-Oct.-Nov., $10) has pit toilets available but no running water. In winter, you can camp free at the plowed Apgar Picnic Area. A pit toilet is there.

McDonald Lake (Backcountry Campsite)

Lake McDonald has one prime backcountry campsite on the north shore, accessible by foot, paddling, or motorboat. It perches on a point with huge views up and down the lake, plus outstanding night sky watching. It has a communal cooking site, a fire pit, a pebble beach, and two large tent sites that can sleep four people each. Pick up required overnight permits in person at the Apgar Backcountry Permit Office (406/888-7859 May-Oct., 406/888-7800 Nov.-Apr., adults $7 pp/night) 24 hours in advance. You can also apply online for advance reservations starting in mid-March (www.nps.gov/glac, $40).

A camper stands within a cluster of tall skinny trees as the sunrise shines through

Bowman Lake Campground Sunrise. Photo: Jacob W. Frank/NPS, Public Domain.

North Fork Campgrounds

National park or national forest campgrounds are the norm. These rustic camps are first-come, first-served. Small, private campgrounds are minus hookups. If you require hookups and disposal stations, go to West Glacier or Columbia Falls.

Glacier’s seasonal North Fork campgrounds (406/888-7800) are only accessible via rough dirt roads. Between rugged roads and smaller sites, these campgrounds don’t accommodate huge RVs or large trailer combinations. But that’s precisely their attraction: Fewer people equals solitude and quiet. They have pit toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. While the park prohibits firewood collecting in most places, including the campgrounds, you can collect dry, downed firewood on the Bowman Lake Road and the Inside Road to Kintla Lake. Cutting live timber is not permitted. Early September-October, Bowman and Kintla Campgrounds permit primitive camping ($10). Bring water or haul it from lakes and streams to boil or purify. The four campgrounds are buggy in June, serene in August, and closed in winter when the roads are buried in snow. Midsummer, Kintla and Bowman can fill up by 11am Friday-Saturday and midafternoon Sunday-Thursday.

Kintla Lake Campground

At the foot of Kintla Lake, Kintla Lake Campground (June-mid-Sept., $15) is 15 miles north of Polebridge. The tiny 13-site campground is tucked under large trees, with hand-pumped water and small sites. One hiking trail leads up-lake and beyond to Upper Kintla Lake and Boulder Pass. If you don’t have reservations, plan to arrive early enough that if all the campsites are full, you can still drive back toward Bowman Lake.

Bowman Lake Campground

At the foot of Bowman Lake, Bowman Lake Campground (late May-early Sept., $15) is seven miles from Polebridge. Its 48 sites, the largest of the North Fork’s campgrounds, spread out under a mixed conifer forest. It has running water, and a five-minute walk leads to the lakeshore and the boat ramp. Trails connect to Quartz Lakes, Numa Lookout, Akokala Lake, and up Bowman Lake to Brown Pass.

Quartz Creek and Logging Creek Campgrounds

Two tiny campgrounds flank the Inside Road in the woods south of Polebridge. They are best for tent campers who can drive the rugged road. No running water is available, so bring your own or plan to purify stream water. Arrive by midafternoon to allow plenty of time to go elsewhere if either campground is full.

With seven campsites, Quartz Creek Campground (July-Nov., $10) sits six miles southeast of Polebridge adjacent to Quartz Creek. From the campground, a 6.8-mile rough trail with infrequent maintenance follows the creek up to Lower Quartz Lake. Located 8.3 miles southeast of Polebridge, Logging Creek Campground (July-Sept., $10), adjacent to Logging Creek Ranger Station, has only seven sites. This is a popular site for anglers heading to Logging Lake.

single tent next to a picnic table in the woods

The serene Avalanche Campground. Photo © David Restivo/NPS.

Going-to-the-Sun Road Campgrounds

In the 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road, five campgrounds stretch along the corridor, but none sit in the high alpine Logan Pass section. On the west side, Apgar, Sprague Creek, and Avalanche offer more sites than Rising Sun and St. Mary on the east side. In midsummer, the coveted Avalanche, Sprague Creek, and Rising Sun Campgrounds can fill up by early morning; all sites are first-come, first-served. Amenities include shuttle stops, flush toilets, cold running water, picnic tables, and fire rings with grills; bring your own firewood, as collecting is prohibited. Shared sites ($5 pp) accommodate hikers and bikers with bear-resistant food storage. For hookups, hit commercial campgrounds outside the park in St. Mary or West Glacier.

If campgrounds are full, oversize RVs must backtrack, because vehicles over 21 feet cannot travel the Sun Road between Avalanche Campground and Sun Point. On the west side, head to Fish Creek and commercial campgrounds in West Glacier. On the east side, aim for commercial campgrounds in St. Mary. For RVs seeking a dump station, find the closest west-side one at Apgar; Rising Sun Campground has a dump station on the east side.

Sprague Creek Campground

Sprague Creek Campground (0.9 mile southwest of Lake McDonald Lodge on Going-to-the-Sun Rd., 406/888-7800, mid-May-mid-Sept., $20) is right on Lake McDonald’s shore in a timbered setting with shaded sites. A few have prime waterfront. Unfortunately, several sites also abut Going-to-the-Sun Road, with a nice view of cars driving by. After dark, the road noise plummets, so it’s not like tenting next to a major highway. As the smallest campground with only 25 sites accessed via a paved road, Sprague Creek does not allow towed units. Most of the parking pads are short and narrow, but a few can fit small RVs up to 21 feet. Kayakers and canoers have lakefront access, and beach sunsets rank as spectacular. At 22 miles from Logan Pass, it has quick access to the high country, and it’s five minutes from Lake McDonald Lodge and the camp store. Midsummer, Sprague often fills by 8am.

Avalanche Campground

Set in a cedar-hemlock and fern rainforest, Avalanche Campground (at Avalanche on Going-to-the-Sun Rd., 406/888-7800, mid-June-early Sept., $20) opens its 87 sites for a shorter season than Sprague Creek. Six miles east of Lake McDonald Lodge, Avalanche makes the closest west-side base for exploring Logan Pass, 16 miles away, and is convenient for hiking to Avalanche Lake, since the trail departs from the campground’s rear. The rainforest, with its dark, overgrown forest canopy, allows little sunlight to hit picnic tables. The moist area sprouts thick patches of thimbleberries and sometimes a good collection of mosquitoes. RVs are limited to 26 feet. Midsummer, Avalanche can fill before 10am.

Rising Sun Campground

Located only 12 miles east of Logan Pass and 6 miles west of St. Mary, Rising Sun Campground (Rising Sun on Going-to-the-Sun Rd., 406/888-7800, late May-mid-Sept., $20) tucks on the lower hillside of Otokomi Mountain by St. Mary Lake. The sun drops down early behind Goat Mountain, creating a long twilight at the campground. While the 2015 Reynolds Creek Fire bypassed the larger trees in the lower campground, it left burnt trees on the hillside above the upper campsites. Adjacent to Rising Sun Motor Inn, the 83-site campground is a few minutes’ walk to a restaurant, a camp store, and hot showers. Beach access is across Going-to-the-Sun Road, with a picnic area, boat ramp, and boat tours. The Otokomi Lake trailhead is behind the adjacent inn. RVs can only be 25 feet. Midsummer, the campground can fill by 9:30am.

Lighting strikes, turning the sky white purple and pink. A tent and a picnic table are illuminated in the wide open space, trees line the space in the distance.

Lighting over St. Mary Campground. Photo: Jacob W. Frank/NPS, Public Domain.

St. Mary and Many Glacier Campgrounds

While Many Glacier has only one campground with no hookups, St. Mary has commercial campgrounds with hookups for RVs. If the inside park campgrounds fill up, head to a commercial one in St. Mary rather than up Going-to-the-Sun Road to Rising Sun, which usually fills up first.

St. Mary is convenient for exploring Going-to-the-Sun Road, and it works as a home base for day trips to Waterton, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine. However, if you envision parking the car, setting up a tent for a couple of days, and hiking straight from the campground, then Many Glacier is where you need to be. Cell service is available at St. Mary campgrounds, but not in Many Glacier.

The inside-park campgrounds run by the National Park Service (406/888-7800) have flush toilets, dump stations, picnic tables, fire rings with grills, and running water. Bring your own firewood; collecting it is illegal. Check online for historic fill times and status to know when to arrive for first-come, first-served campsites. For the summer, make reservations (877/444-6777, $9 reservation fee) starting six months in advance.

St. Mary Campground

St. Mary Campground (milepost 0.9, Going-to-the-Sun Rd., mid-May-mid-Sept., $20-23) has 183 sites sitting in open meadows or tucked among aspens. Sites fill midsummer by 8am. For the best views, the C loop sites stare at Divide and Red Eagle Mountains, but in August heat, they can be hot. Four token-operated showers with lukewarm water are available. A few campsites can fit RVs up to 35 feet, but most are shorter. A trail crosses the St. Mary River on a wooden bridge to connect with the visitors center, St. Mary’s restaurants, shuttles, and shops, but it has no access to St. Mary Lake. This campground has shoulder-season primitive camping (late Apr.-mid-May and late Sept.-Nov., $10) and winter camping (free) with pit toilets and no water.

Many Glacier Campground

Located at the end of Many Glacier Road, Many Glacier Campground (406/888-7800, late May-mid-Sept., $20-23) packs 110 shaded sites into a treed setting at the base of Grinnell Point. As the most coveted campground in the park, plan to arrive by 7am to claim one of the first-come, first-served campsites in the front loops; back loop campsites are by reservation. A few sites can fit RVs up to 35 feet, but most fit RVs only up to 21 feet. Nearby trails depart for Red Rock, Bullhead, and Iceberg Lakes as well as Ptarmigan Tunnel and Swiftcurrent Pass. From the picnic area, a five-minute walk down the road, trails depart to Lake Josephine and Grinnell Lake, Grinnell Glacier, and Piegan Pass. Across the parking lot, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn has a restaurant, laundry, hot showers, and a camp store. If bears frequent the campground, tent camping may be restricted, with only hard-sided vehicles allowed. Primitive camping (mid-Sept.-Oct., $10) has pit toilets and no water.

orange tent in a campground surrounded by trees

Cut Bank Campground. Photo © jonathanw100, licensed CC BY.

Two Medicine and East Glacier Campgrounds

Two National Park Service campgrounds are in Glacier’s southeast corner. Campsites have picnic tables and fire rings with grills. Bring your own firewood; gathering wood in the park is prohibited. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

Two Medicine Campground

Two Medicine Campground (406/888-7800, late May-late Sept., $20) yields views of bears foraging on Rising Wolf Mountain, especially from the A and C loops. Riverfront sites are 95, 99, and 100. In early summer, ruby-crowned kinglets call out “teacher, teacher” from the trees. The campground surrounds the calmer waters of small Pray Lake, a good place for paddling, fishing, or chilly swimming. With 99 sites, the campground may have sites available later than those nearer Going-to-the-Sun Road, but it can fill up midsummer before 11am. Tenters should choose sheltered sites due to abrupt high winds that can flatten poles. Flush toilets, water, and a dump station are provided. The Loop C restrooms were rebuilt in 2015. The north-shore trail departs right from the campground, leading in both directions around Rising Wolf Mountain. A seven-minute walk or a few-minute drive connects with the boat tour and rental dock. Only 13 sites can handle RVs up to 32 feet. Primitive camping (late Sept.-Oct., $10) has pit toilets and no water.

Cut Bank Campground

Located 19 miles north of East Glacier off U.S. 89, Cut Bank Campground (406/888-7800, early June-early Sept., $10) is at the end of a five-mile potholed dirt road. The ultra-quiet campsites can only fit very small RVs, and trailers are not recommended. The campground has pit toilets and no running water. Atlantic Creek runs nearby, but you’ll need to filter the water or boil it for five minutes. With only 14 sites set in deep shade under large firs, it’s a great place to escape the crowds. Atlantic Creek has fishing, and a nearby trailhead departs to Medicine Grizzly Lake and Triple Divide Pass. To locate the road, look for the campground sign six miles north of the junction of Highway 49 and U.S. 89.

Glacier National Park travel maps by region

Glacier National Park travel maps by region.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.

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Wildlife in Glacier National Park: Safety Tips and Hot Spots https://moon.com/2017/08/wildlife-in-glacier-national-park-safety-hot-spots/ https://moon.com/2017/08/wildlife-in-glacier-national-park-safety-hot-spots/#respond Tue, 01 Aug 2017 19:32:32 +0000 http://publishing.wpengine.com/?p=1877 Here are the key spots to see everything from grizzly bears to mountain goats in Glacier National Park, plus tips on staying safe.

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moose and calf surrounded by forest

Wildlife lovers can see 60 mammal species and more than 260 species of birds. Photo © sekernas/iStock.

Hot Spots for Viewing Wildlife in Glacier National Park

Glacier has 60 mammal species and more than 260 species of birds; bring the binoculars to aid in watching wildlife.

  • Inside Road: Spot elusive gray wolves on this uncrowded dirt road at dawn or dusk.
  • McGee Meadows: The North Fork Valley houses 196 bird species. McGee Meadows bustles with snipes, soras, and red-tailed hawks.
  • Avalanche Paths: In early spring, grizzly bears prowl for carcasses in avalanche slopes on Mount Cannon and the Glacier Wall on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
  • Logan Pass: Mountain goats and bighorn sheep wander through the parking lot at Logan Pass and frequent the Hidden Lake Overlook trail.
  • Two Dog Flats: In spring and late fall, elk feed in early morning at Two Dog Flats near Rising Sun while aspens attract woodpeckers, flickers, and owls.
  • St. Mary and Virginia Falls: These two waterfalls create perfect habitat for dark, bobbing American dippers.
  • Mounts Henkel and Altyn: Grizzly and black bears feed on huckleberries on these two peaks in Many Glacier in late summer.
  • Swiftcurrent Valley: A gentle hike runs through moose country to Red Rock and Bullhead Lakes. Listen for white-crowned sparrows, loons, Clark’s nutcrackers, and golden eagles.
  • Goat Lick: On U.S. 2, the natural mineral lick attracts mountain goats in early summer.
  • Waterton Lakes: Waterton’s Maskinonge and Linnet Lakes wetlands abound with ospreys, swans, and kingfishers.
  • Bison Paddock: The Waterton bison paddock houses a small herd of shaggy bovines that once roamed wild.
  • Kootenai Lakes: Hop the Waterton tour boat and hike to Glacier’s Kootenai Lakes to see moose and trumpeter swans.

Tips for Safely and Successfully Viewing Wildlife

  • Safety for you and safety for the wildlife is important. For spying wildlife up close, use a good pair of binoculars.
  • Do not approach wildlife. Although our inclinations tell us to scoot in for a closer look, crowding wildlife puts you at risk and endangers the animal, often scaring it off. Sometimes simply the presence of people can habituate an animal to hanging around people; with bears, this can lead to more aggressive behavior.
  • Let the animal’s or bird’s behavior guide your behavior. If the animal appears twitchy, nervous, or points eyes and ears directly at you, back off: You’re too close. The goal is to watch wild animals go about their normal business, rather than to see how they react to disruption. If you behave like a predator stalking an animal, the creature will assume you are one. Use binoculars and telephoto lenses for moving in close rather than approaching an animal.
  • Most animals tend to be more active in morning and evening. These are also optimum times for photographing animals in better lighting.
  • Blend in with your surroundings. Rather than wearing loud colors, wear muted clothing that matches the environment.
  • Relax. Animals sense excitement. Move slowly around them because abrupt, jerky movements can startle them. Look down, rather than staring animals directly in the eye.
  • Don’t get carried away watching big, showy megafauna like bears and moose only to miss a small carnivore like a short-tailed weasel.
  • Use field guides to help with identification and understanding the animal’s behavior.
  • If you see wildlife along a road, use pullouts or broad shoulders to drive completely off the road. Do not block the middle of the road. Use the car as a blind to watch wildlife, but keep pets inside. If you see a bear, you’re better off just driving by slowly. Bear jams tend to condition the bruin to become accustomed to vehicles, one step toward getting into more trouble.
  • Travel map of Glacier National Park

    Glacier National Park


    Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.

    The post Wildlife in Glacier National Park: Safety Tips and Hot Spots appeared first on Moon Travel Guides.

    ]]> https://moon.com/2017/08/wildlife-in-glacier-national-park-safety-hot-spots/feed/ 0 1877 Tours and Activities in Glacier Bay National Park https://moon.com/2017/07/tours-activities-glacier-bay-national-park/ https://moon.com/2017/07/tours-activities-glacier-bay-national-park/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:32:39 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58049 Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve encompasses an enormous 3.3 million acres of land and water. Its craggy, snowcapped mountains, towering spruce and cedar trees, and rich waters are hardly unique in Alaska, but this park is remarkable for several reasons, which make it great for several reasons.

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    Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve encompasses an enormous 3.3 million acres of land and water—that’s larger than the state of Alabama. Its craggy, snowcapped mountains, towering spruce and cedar trees, and rich waters are hardly unique in Alaska, but this park is remarkable for several reasons.

    The first is the pristine nature of the waters and lands; the waters, in particular, are some of the richest in the world, and Glacier Bay is one of the largest protected biosphere preserves in the world. Second, the solitude—cruise ships do visit the bay, but they never dock, and access during peak months is controlled by a free permit system.

    Third, it’s been less than 300 years since an enormously thick glacier covered much of this land. The bay was uncovered by a stunningly fast series of advances and retreats. Finally, this place is a rich, integral part of the Tlingit Alaska Native tradition, and park officials work closely with the tribes. One of their most notable successes was the opening of the Xunaa Shuká Hít clan house in August of 2016; this is the first permanent clan house in Glacier Bay since Tlingit villages were destroyed by a rapid glacier advance more than 250 years ago.

    cruise ship with views of glaciers and mountains

    Cruise ship in Glacier Bay. Photo © WoodsyPhotos/iStock.

    Activities in Glacier Bay

    Boat Tours

    The only scheduled day tour in Glacier Bay National Park is the Glacier Bay Tour out of the Glacier Bay Lodge (179 Bartlett Cove, 888/229-8687), which also offers a water taxi for backpackers and kayakers heading deep into the park. Glacier Bay Adventures (907/697-2442) offers a cruise aboard the park-permitted research yacht, the Steller.

    Whale Watching

    Whale watching is phenomenal in the waters of Glacier Bay and Icy Straits; from late June through September, humpback whales focus on nothing but eating as much as they can, stocking up on blubber before they migrate to their warm-water breeding grounds, where they’ll fast until their return next year. You’ll see many fascinating behaviors, from lunge feeding to breaching, spy hopping, lob-tailing, and even bubble-net feeding, a learned, cooperative behavior that only happens in this part of the world. You have great odds of seeing other wildlife too, from orcas to sea lions, Dall porpoises, and numerous waterbirds.

    Two of the best whale watching tours in these waters are the half-day, naturalist-narrated “Taz” Cross-Sound Express (888/698-2726 or 907/321-2303), which also offers water-taxi services for kayakers and backpackers (the deck is large enough to handle large groups of kayaks), and the half-day Wild Alaska Charters tour (855/997-2704 or 907/697-2704, from $140), which never takes more than six passengers at a time.

    Sea Kayaking

    Sea kayaking is also enormously popular, both in and around the park. Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks (907/697-2257) has a concession for full- and half-day trips inside the park and also provides gear rentals and trip-planning assistance to paddlers who are experienced enough to go without a guide. The Beardslee Islands are a popular destination, with great beach camping and wildlife viewing. Another great destination is Muir Arm in the park; you can use the daily Glacier Bay Tour boat from Glacier Bay Lodge as a water taxi to cut days off your paddling time in these glacier-clad waters.

    On the other end of the spectrum, the folks at Alaska Mountain Guides (800/766-3396 or 801/742-0100), based in nearby Haines, are renowned for their guided expeditions of five days or more. Spirit Walker Expeditions (800/529-2537) is also very popular for longer trips throughout the northern portion of Southeast Alaska. If you book with a different provider, make sure they have the proper permits to actually go into the waters of Glacier Bay.

    Fishing

    The waters of Glacier Bay and Icy Straits are enormously productive, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best places in the world for fishing. Better yet, the isolated location means you won’t have to battle crowds. If you don’t want to commit to an all-inclusive, multi-day fishing trip with Glacier Bay Sportfishing (907/697-3038, lodging at the Gustavus Inn, from $2,400 for 3 days/4 nights), you can book anywhere from a half-day to five-day trip with Taylor Charters (801/647-3401).

    a tent sits on the shore of Glacier Bay

    Backcountry campsite at Lamplugh Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. Photo © Matt Zimmerman, licensed CC BY.

    Permits for Boating and Camping

    Glacier Bay is a very popular destination for private boat owners. During the peak months, June-August, private boat owners must secure a free permit to enter the waters of Glacier Bay and Bartlett Cove. Each permit is good for up to seven days, and you must apply within 60 days of your planned arrival date. Don’t dillydally, though—permits often “sell out” quickly from mid-June to early August.

    If you want to camp in Glacier Bay May-September—whether in the established campground or the backcountry—you need a free permit too. See nps.gov/glba for more information on both types of permits.


    Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Alaska.

    The post Tours and Activities in Glacier Bay National Park appeared first on Moon Travel Guides.

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    The Best Waterfalls in Yosemite https://moon.com/2017/07/the-best-waterfalls-in-yosemite/ https://moon.com/2017/07/the-best-waterfalls-in-yosemite/#comments Tue, 25 Jul 2017 14:16:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=20911 A helpful guide to viewing the best waterfalls in Yosemite, including when to time your visit, what sort of hikes to expect, & how to get around the park.

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    People come from all over the world to get a negative-ion fix from the plentiful waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. But there’s a catch: Show up in mid- to late summer and your waterfall fantasies may be all dried up. Waterfall aficionados should time their Yosemite visit for April, May, or June, the months during which 75 percent of the high country’s snowmelt occurs, producing powerful cascades of water. Start with Yosemite Valley’s waterfalls, which are easily seen by walking, driving your car, riding the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus, riding a bike, or any combination of the above.

    lush green trees reflected in a pool of water below a waterfall in Yosemite

    Yosemite Falls is not to be missed. Photo © Maridav/iStock.

    Bridalveil Fall

    Bridalveil Fall in its 620 feet of cascading glory is an obvious must-see, but don’t miss some of the lesser-known falls nearby. At the overlook for Bridalveil Fall, turn directly around and you’ll see Ribbon Fall pouring off the north rim of the Valley. Also look for Sentinel Fall on the south canyon wall, roughly across from Yosemite Falls, just west of Sentinel Rock.

    Yosemite Falls

    Lower Yosemite Fall is an easy walk, but waterfall lovers can’t leave Yosemite without a trip to the top of the highest waterfall in North America, 2,425-foot Upper Yosemite Fall. Start hiking at the trailhead behind Camp 4 and after 3.6 miles and 2,700 feet of elevation gain, you’re at a railed overlook that is perched alongside the brink of this behemoth.

    water tumbling over rock into a pool with a rainbow

    Hike the Panorama Trail or the Mist Trail to enjoy beautiful Vernal Fall.

    Vernal and Nevada Falls

    Hike the Panorama Trail from Glacier Point down to Yosemite Valley (it’s an 8.5-mile one-way trek; you’ll need to catch the tour bus at Yosemite Valley Lodge in the morning to deliver you to the trail’s start). Just two miles downhill from Glacier Point you’ll come to the lip of 370-foot Illilouette Fall. Keep going and an hour or so later you’ll reach the brink of Nevada Fall, then finally Vernal Fall. It is a dizzying experience to stand at the railing-lined overlooks on top of these two falls and stare down into the powerful plunge of white water below.

    Staircase Falls

    Behind Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village), Staircase Falls skips its way down the stair-step cliff below Glacier Point. If you have time, drive partway up Big Oak Flat Road toward Crane Flat, where Cascade Falls drops just west of the tunnels. Or visit Cascade Falls’ final drop to the valley floor near Cascades Picnic Area, 2.8 miles east of the Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140.

    waterfall flowing into Tuolomne River

    Visit Tuolomne Falls in July and August. Photo © Patrick Poendl/iStock.

    Tuolumne Falls

    For waterfall fans who are unlucky enough to miss the prime falling-water season in Yosemite, there’s still hope. July and August park visitors can enjoy a waterfall-laden hike along the Tuolumne River that leads past four falls: Tuolumne, California, LeConte, and Waterwheel. The trailhead is on Tioga Pass Road near Lembert Dome and Soda Springs, and the trail is not usually accessible until July 1 each year due to snow and wet conditions. This epic hike is a whopping 16 miles round-trip, but with only 1,900 feet of elevation change. The good news is that you don’t have to hike the entire distance to enjoy some of the falls. The first one, Tuolumne Falls, is located only 4.5 miles from the trailhead.

    Chilnualna Falls

    Drive to the south part of the park to see a lesser-known waterfall. Hike the 8.0-mile round-trip trail to Chilnualna Falls, located near Wawona.

    Tueeulala and Wapama Falls

    Head to Hetch Hetchy Valley to see its spectacular free-leaping falls. Tueeulala and Wapama Falls can be seen via an easy-to-moderate 4.8-mile round-trip hike along the edge of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Park near the dam, walk across it, and then follow the trail through a tunnel and along the north edge of the reservoir. You’ll cross over the flow of both falls on a series of sturdy bridges.

    Map of Yosemite National Park, California

    Yosemite National Park

    See the best waterfalls in California's Yosemite National Park, whose abundance of nature make it one of the top travel destinations.


    Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon.

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