Top 10 Experiences in Utah
After approximately 18 months of full-time RV life, Kristi Stevens from the Adventurtunity Family says Utah is one of the family’s favorite destinations. In fact, the family of three spent a full four months in the western state and report they still have a long list of things to discover and do.
In 2020, Kristi and her husband, Spencer, quit their corporate jobs, sold their home and most of their possessions, and purchased a Class A, 2017 Holiday Rambler® Vacationer® 36H. Together with their now five-year-old son, Kade, the Stevens hit the open road. Along the way, they added another family member—Roku Blu, a golden retriever.
Our Top 10 Experiences in Utah
We often get asked about our favorite place to travel. And, while we have a few, Utah tops our list. So much so that out of twelve months of full-time travel we spent four of them in Utah. We learned quickly that our decisions would come down to what we were going to have to regretfully skip. Even after four months in Utah, we still have a long list of places to visit.
If you are heading to Utah in the near future, we’re going to help you. First, know there is not a bad season to visit. Winter months are packed with fun. If you love snow and cooler temps, the northern part of the state is where it’s at. In the southern part of the state, you’ll find the mild temps you’re searching for if you don’t like the heat. Summer is pleasant in the north, and yes, a bit warmer in the south, but perfect for swimming, paddling, kayaking, and any other water sport you’re into. With that said, we have rounded up our top 10 favorite experiences and places to visit throughout Utah. We’ve also included a few tips and tricks along the way.
Our Christmas goal was to have snow, so we set out for Park City. We stayed just south of Park City in a town called Heber City where we fell in love with the neighboring town of Midway. Full of small-town charm, small businesses line the main street with their Swiss motif. Our favorite restaurant there, Café Galleria, has heated snow globes on the patio that you can reserve to enjoy your meal. Not too far from there are two attractions that are hidden gems in this tiny town. One is the Ice Castle, one of the largest man-made ice sculptures in the country. The other is the Crater Swim where you can swim in geothermally heated water inside of a crater. On the opposite side of town, you’ll find cross country skiing and snow tubing. Oh, and there is a famous creamery, too. If you are in the Park City area, take a short break from the slopes and shops to visit Midway. You won’t be sorry.
2. Lone Rock Beach
After spending part of the winter in Park City, we headed south to thaw out and happened to visit Lone Rock Beach on a whim. Located on Lake Powell at the southern Utah/northern Arizona border, Lone Rock Beach is one of the coolest spots to camp. It’s a large sandy beach with crystal blue water and the namesake rock reaching to the sky from the depths of the water. Once you get set up, you can take ATVs and Jeeps off-road, have bonfires, enjoy the water, and meet new people. Our first time there we just had our Wrangler, but we loved it so much we went back several more times and even boondocked with our Vacationer for seven nights! Whether camping or visiting for the day, it’s a beautiful place so don’t miss it.
3. Zion National Park
One of our favorite national parks to date is Zion. We stayed on the east side of the park for one month and highly recommend staying there for a few reasons. It’s much more peaceful, less touristy, and closer to other must-see locations like Bryce Canyon and Kanab, Utah. Within the park, we recommend driving the entire road, pulling off at the turnouts, and exploring the sandstone scenery. If you’re up for it, Angels Landing is an incredible hike and a great workout. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hike the Narrows, but it’s high on our must-try list and one we recommend checking out.
4. Bryce Canyon National Park
We made the mistake of waiting to explore Bryce Canyon until the end of our month stay. And on top of that, we thought we could do it in a day. Don’t make our mistakes and plan accordingly. Bryce Canyon National Park absolutely deserves several dedicated days to visit. There are so many hikes to explore, and its terrain is so captivating you need an hour or two just to take it all in. One thing to note is that dogs are not allowed on hiking trails in most national parks in Utah. We made that mistake and brought our pup. Needless to say, we will be returning to properly visit Bryce Canyon and all the beauty it has to offer.
5. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
We could write a few blog posts on our favorite hidden gem, Kanab, Utah. Instead, we’re simply going to highlight a few of the most unique places within Kanab that you should visit at some point. One is Coral Pink Sand Dunes. We saw the signs driving down the road and decided to check it out, and we’re so glad we did. Up until that visit, we hadn’t really seen rolling hills of sand. What surprised us the most was that there were trees and vegetation growing in and around the dunes. Not only was it a beautiful sight, it was fun, too. We rented a wooden sled from the state park station and went sledding down the dunes. Be prepared for a wicked good time and don’t forget to close your mouth on your way down.
6. The Wave
There are only seven wonders in the world, but from where I stand, The Wave could easily be the eighth. Out of all of the places we have been to and seen in the past year, The Wave is one of the most visually stunning and yet surprisingly unknown to many. It’s a sandstone formation created by slow wind and rain erosion, resulting in a flowing rock phenomenon that seems to defy physics. It is technically in Arizona but is only accessible through Utah. There is a lottery system to hike to The Wave with only 64 permits awarded each day. You can apply online months in advance or show up in person to enter the drawing for the next day. The in-person allotment is up to 16 permits and as many as 300 people could be applying in person each day. It’s not the easiest place to adventure to, but it is absolutely worth it to see this spectacular wonder of nature.
7. White Pocket
Many locals told us, if we weren’t able to obtain a permit for The Wave, we should explore White Pocket. Thankfully we won The Wave lottery and still went to White Pocket. Our advice is to try for The Wave but do White Pocket regardless. To reach either site, you start out driving along a long wash-boarded dirt and gravel road outside of Kanab. The drive to White Pocket is much longer and more difficult. It’s about a 20-mile drive, which takes almost two hours. After the washboard road, you’ll travel on narrow trails and deep sand paths to reach the parking lot. A high clearance 4×4 is a must. But, once there, you’ll experience another physics-defying sight of tan, pink, and peach hued sandstone that looks as if it was poured across the landscape and shaped with an ice cream scoop. Peppered throughout the area are little water pools, hoodoos created by wind, peaks to climb, and beauty as far as your eyes can see. Make sure you bring plenty of water, food, and tell someone where you are going because you won’t have cell service for most of the drive and time you spend there.
8. Thanksgiving Point
We have to mention Thanksgiving Point because it was such a wonderful and educational experience for Kade. It’s located on the outskirts of Salt Lake City and is a collection of five experiential places. As a visitor, you are able to purchase tickets to just one or a few of the experiences or buy a hopper pass and visit all five. We went with the hopper pass and made a full day of it. If heading to Thanksgiving Point, we highly recommend doing the experiences in this order: the Museum of Ancient Life; Butterfly Biosphere; Ashton Gardens; Museum of Natural Curiosity; and Farm Country. It’s a blast for kids and adults alike.
We must, of course, mention Moab because it’s 100% a must see. Moab is an absolute gold mine of adventure—from floating the Colorado River to rock climbing, hiking, jeeping, and so much more. It’s also home to Arches and Canyonland National Parks but make sure you take time to explore other areas like Fisher Towers and Corona Arch. Of course, if you have an off-road vehicle and like to see what it can do, there’s no better place to challenge yourself than on the endless trails of Moab. The Poison Spider and Top of the World trails were among our favorites. If you happen to travel in-season, the national parks tend to fill up quickly so plan on getting to the gate early. You can also go later in the afternoon when people start to leave. Sunset in Arches is amazing and so are the nighttime stars.
10. Moab Skydive
I’m ending with this one because it isn’t for the faint of heart, but it was a thrilling experience. We decided to skydive in Moab on our ninth wedding anniversary and happened to meet up with the husband of another full-time travel couple. If skydiving has ever been a consideration for you, Moab is the place to do it. The price was reasonable, and the views are epic. You could see both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks as well as the La Sal Mountains all while freefalling from 17,000 feet. From start to finish, the experience is about 45 minutes. Be sure to upgrade to the photo/video package so you can relive and share the experience with your friends and family for years to come.
We could go on and on about all the wonders of Utah—from the amazing places we experienced to the many that still occupy our to-do list. Ultimately, if you’re a lover of the outdoor lifestyle, we feel you can’t go wrong in Utah. No matter where you visit, you’re bound to have a wonderful and adventurous time!
Holiday Rambler is an award-winning RV brand that is part of REV Recreation Group, Inc., a subsidiary of REV Group, Inc. The Holiday Rambler 2022 line features four diesel and three gas motorhomes. Holiday Rambler has partnered with the Adventurtunity Family to chronicle their experiences as they travel the United States and share their stories on the Holiday Rambler blog.
To learn more about the Adventurtunity Family’s life on the road, visit the Holiday Rambler blog or Instagram page.
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Here are our top picks for how to escape the crowds and find a slice of pristine wilderness in some of the country’s most visited national parks. Mineral King Found in Sequoia National Park Sure, you’ll have to drive an hour down a rugged dirt road to get to Sequoia’s Mineral King area, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada Range and plentiful hiking and backpacking opportunities. The trail up to Franklin Lakes (12 miles round trip) is an awesome day hike or overnight trek, passing by waterfalls and, in summer, spectacular wildflowers. Serious adventurers might want to tack on a 3-4 day journey over Franklin Pass to secluded Kern Hot Springs. East Inlet Trail Found in Rocky Mountain National Park Situated on the far less traveled, western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, the East Inlet Trail is a great jumping off point for hikers seeking big mountain vistas, wildlife, waterfalls, and, most importantly, solitude. The trail starts with Adams Falls, then steadily climbs up through a mountainous valley, with views getting better the further your climb. It’s a 16-mile round trip to Spirit Lake, and an even farther overnight trek for those who want to travel to Fourth Lake and over Boulder Grand Pass. Kolob Canyon is a little-visited area in Utah's Zion National Park © Nickolay Stanev / Shutterstock Kolob Canyon Found in Zion National Park Located in the park’s northern, higher elevation section, Kolob Canyon has all the fabulous red rock and big vistas that you’d expect from Zion, but with far fewer crowds. Take a scenic drive along East Kolob Canyon Road, then go on a hike amidst towering, rust-colored fins and escarpments on the La Verkin Creek Trail. Serious trekkers won’t want to miss Kolob Arch (15 miles round trip – mostly flat) as a long day hike or a mellow backpacking trip along a gently burbling creek (permits available online or at the visitor center). Schooner Head Overlook & Tide Pools Found in Acadia National Park Download a tide schedule app onto your phone, then traverse the Park Loop Road to Schooner Head Overlook. Head down to the rocky seashore at low tide to check out numerous tide pools filled with barnacles, sea urchins, and crabs, just watch out for slippery seaweed on the rocks. Visitors comfortable scrambling on wet rocks will definitely want to check out Anemone Cave, which can be accessed only at low tide via careful rock-hopping. Like the NPS, we don't recommend entering the cave, but the interior can be safely viewed from the rocks nearby. You'll have quiet places like Hetch Hetchy Reservoir all to yourself © Nickolay Stanev / Shutterstock Hetch Hetchy Found in Yosemite National Park Located in the least-visited northwestern quadrant of the park, Hetch Hetchy is an area John Muir once called “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” Unfortunately, the valley was dammed to create a reservoir for drinking water, but the surrounding mountainous landscape is still spectacular and free of the usual hustle and bustle of the rest of Yosemite. Visitors can day hike here or check out an epic, 25-mile backpacking loop that traverses several of the area’s stunning lakes and waterfalls. Go in spring for rainbow bursts of alpine wildflowers. Sidewinder Canyon Found in Death Valley National Park Just 20 minutes by car from Badwater Basin lies a small, unsigned parking lot and a vague trail leading toward a series of three slot canyons. After hiking .6 miles up an imposing desert wash, visitors here can squeeze, shimmy, and scramble through narrow breccia rock formations. Grab detailed, printed directions for the 5-mile (round trip) journey at the ranger station in Furnace Creek if you’re at all nervous about off-trail exploration, and be sure to pack plenty of water. With the water from this nearby waterfall rushing by, the Sinks is a perfect place for a relaxing swim © Ehrlif / iStock / Getty The Sinks Swimming Hole Found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Enjoy one of the most picturesque spots on the Little River Road scenic drive, located just 12 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Travelers here can hang out on the massive river boulders, relax near a rushing waterfall, and swim in the clear, natural pools to cool down on a hot, summer day. The bravest of your group might even want to try cliff diving from the nearby rocks, a popular activity among locals. Bogachiel River Trail Found in Olympic National Park Bypass the ever-popular Hoh Rain Forest Trail while still enjoying the same temperate rainforest ecosystem, filled with verdant spruce, mossy alders, and gardens of sword fern. Hikers can go the distance and parallel the river for a 12-mile round-trip out-and-back or simply turn around whenever they’ve seen enough. At .3 miles from the trailhead is a junction with the Kestner Homestead Loop, which is a lovely, accessible trail to an old barn, house, and outbuildings that colors the historic significance of the area. The Lone Star Geyser is a little out of the way, but it offers the spectacle of Old Faithful without the crowds © Kris Wiktor / Shutterstock Lone Star Geyser Found in Yellowstone National Park Escape the madness at Old Faithful and visit Lone Star Geyser instead. A mellow, 4.8-mile (round trip) hike or bike ride down an old park road takes visitors here through a dense pine forest, occasionally opening up to beautiful meadow views. At the turn-around point is Lone Star Geyser. The geyser erupts about every three hours, so use a geyser times app to check the predicted schedule. It’s a great spot to hike to for lunch and hang out as you wait for the geyser to blow. Be sure to download the NPS Yellowstone App onto your phone before going on this hike – there’s little to no cell service inside the park. Shoshone Point captures the scope of the Grand Canyon without the crowds seen at more popular spots © Chr. Offenberg / Shutterstock Shoshone Point Found in Grand Canyon National Park Shoshone Point has all the grandeur of Mather Point and Bright Angel, without the throngs of crowds that can make it difficult to snap a decent picture. That’s because travelers here have to walk an easy, 1-mile (each way) former service road to get to the viewpoint. Gaze out at layer upon layer of bright red canyon rock and try to catch a glimpse of the powerful Colorado River, a vertical mile beneath your feet. Go at sunrise to have the place all to yourself.
History beckons in Washington County, Maryland, home to Civil War battlefields
Western Maryland is home to some of the most beautiful places to go hiking in the eastern U.S., as well as three scenic byways — the Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway, The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Scenic Byway, and The Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway — all of which make terrific options for your next great summer road trip. In Washington County, you’ll find everything from historic homes and forts dating back to the early 18th century to battlefields and cemeteries telling the stories of those who helped change the course of the Civil War. Here’s where every history buff should visit on their next trip to this fascinating corner of the country. Historic Civil War Battlefields Antietam National Battlefield - Courtesy of nps.gov Perhaps the most well-known historic site in Western Maryland, Antietam National Battlefield is where the bloodiest single-day battle in American history took place, with 23,000 soldiers losing their lives or wounded that fateful day on September 17, 1862. Along with Union victories at nearby Monocacy National Battlefield and South Mountain State Battlefield, the fighting helped turn the tide of the Civil War and led Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation, which happened a few days later on September 22, 1862. While a number of events will be held over the weekend of September 17, 2022, to mark the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (check the website) you can learn more about its significance and those who died there at the Newcomer House visitor center and pay your respects at the nearby Antietam National Cemetery. Stop by the Pry House Field Hospital Museum for a look at Civil War medicine, or for a unique take on the battle, hit the Antietam Creek Water Trail to visit a number of key sites by kayak or canoe. Located just outside Boonsboro, South Mountain State Battlefield marks the site of Maryland’s first Civil War battle, which ended in a Union victory and essentially prevented a Confederate invasion. About 15 minutes away, pay your respects to the many journalists and artists killed while covering the Civil War at the War Correspondents Memorial Arch in Gathland State Park, built by George Alfred Townsend, himself a Civil War correspondent, in 1896. Sites Dating Back to the Early 18th and 19th Centuries Fort Frederick Living History - Credit Visit Hagerstown Nestled along the Potomac River and built in 1756 to protect early settlers during and after the French and Indian War, Fort Frederick was also used to hold British prisoners during the Revolutionary War. By 1860, the farmland that now makes up Fort Frederick State Park was owned by Nathan Williams, the second-richest free African American man in all of Washington County, who continued to grow and sell crops to both armies during the Civil War, all while helping slaves to escape through this part of Maryland. Learn more about the fort’s fascinating past, then stroll one of its scenic nature trails. For a change in scenery and the chance to take on some of the area’s scenic hikes including a small section of the legendary Appalachian Trail, head to Washington Monument State Park. In 1827, Boonsboro residents constructed a massive 30-foot tall stone tower — the first-ever Washington Monument — in honor of our first president. Hike to check it out in person, then stop by the museum for more background information about its role in local history. Learn more about Hagerstown’s German immigrant founder at the Jonathan Hager House Museum, where you can tour the home he constructed in 1739. What began as “Hager’s Fancy,” a frontier fort at the western edge of the Maryland colony that later served as a trading post, was purchased by the Washington County Historical Society in 1944 and opened as a museum in 1962. Today, you can visit the historic home and view its furnishings, preserved as they were during the property’s 18th-century heyday. Black History Sites in Washington County While slavery did play a significant part in the region’s history from the early 18th century until Maryland abolished it in 1864, Hagerstown is home to several Underground Railroad sites you can visit today. Read the historic markers along Jonathan Street to learn about the legacy of African Americans who helped put Hagerstown on the map, like Walter Harmon, a wealthy entrepreneur who built 37 houses, a bowling alley, a dance hall, and the Harmon Hotel, highlighted in The Green Book as one of the only accommodations open to Black travelers during segregation. It also happens to be where baseball legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays stayed in 1950 when he played his first professional game with the Trenton Giants at Municipal Stadium. Kennedy Farm House John Brown HQ - Credit: Visit Hagerstown Closer to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Kennedy Farm was the staging area for abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid on the federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry. Meant to help create a republic for fugitive slaves, the raid went on for three days but was ultimately unsuccessful. His followers, a mix of Black and white abolitionists, were captured or killed, while Brown himself was tried for treason and hanged a few months later. It did, however, instill a sense of fierce conflict between northerners and southerners regarding the practice of slavery that only intensified over the next two years until the start of the Civil War. Today, the John Brown Raid Headquarters is a National Historic Landmark, though it’s temporarily closed for restoration. Also worth a look are two of Hagerstown’s oldest African American churches, the Asbury United Methodist Church, founded in 1818 (its current building dates to 1879, as it was rebuilt after a fire), and the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1840. For more information about the region’s rich African American history and culture, head to the Doleman Black Heritage Museum, which houses a vast collection of photos, books, birth records, deeds of slave sales, paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. CARD WIDGET HERE
The Ultimate Guide to Western Maryland’s 3 Scenic and Historic Byways
There’s something for everyone in Washington County, Maryland, whether it’s your first trip or you keep returning to your favorite scenic nature trails over and over again. With summer just around the corner, now is the time to start planning your next great road trip. Located about three hours from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, or 90 minutes from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, this particular part of the state is full of historic Civil War battlefields and scenic byways showcasing the area’s natural beauty. If you’re up for a memorable drive full of history, hiking trails, charming small towns, historic inns, wineries, breweries, and plenty of Americana, add these three scenic byways to your next Western Maryland road trip itinerary. The Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway Historic National Road - Credit: Scott Cantner While the entire Historic National Road reaches across six states from Baltimore, Maryland, to East St. Louis, Illinois, a large portion of Maryland’s stretch of it passes through Washington County, following Maryland Route 144 and US Route 40 Scenic (also called US Route 40 Alternate), which runs parallel to US Route 40 from Frederick to Hagerstown. As you drive on the scenic byway, built between 1811 and 1834 and dotted with historic sites, charming small towns, and stunning natural scenery, it’s not hard to imagine early American settlers and traders traveling along the same route in their horse-drawn carriages. Popular stops within Washington County include Washington Monument State Park, where you can hike a small section of the legendary Appalachian Trail and view the first stone monument ever created in honor of George Washington, and South Mountain State Park, which is located nearby and part of a popular migratory trail. Visit the National Road Museum in Boonsboro to learn more about US Route 40, the first federally funded highway in the U.S., and snap photos of the town’s charming 19th-century buildings. Nora Roberts fans can also make a pilgrimage to her beloved Turn the Page Bookstore and Café, where she still does the occasional book signing, or stay at the Inn BoonsBoro, a literary-themed bed and breakfast opened by the esteemed bestselling author and her husband in 2009. Head to Big Cork Vineyards for a glass of locally made wine or enjoy a meal at Old South Mountain Inn, known for its dining since 1732. Antietam Brewey - Credit: Scott Cantner Spend some time in Hagerstown, often referred to as the “Hub City” due to its location at the crossroads of several major trading routes — by land and water — and eventually, because of its many modern-day railway and highway connections. If you’re craving a little culture on your road trip, visit the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts or catch a show at The Maryland Theatre, where the Maryland Symphony Orchestra is based. Stroll along the Hagerstown Cultural Trail, which connects the theatre district with the fine arts museum in City Park. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Hagerstown, Antietam Brewery is worth a stop for its creative craft brews, tasting room, behind-the-scenes tours, and outdoor patio, while Blue Mountain Wine Crafters in nearby Funktown offers a dog-friendly stop for lovers of all things vino. Next, head west to Ford Frederick State Park in Big Pool, home to a unique stone fort that dates back to 1756 and once protected Maryland during the French and Indian War — it’s also home to several hiking trails where you can spot white-tailed deer, birds, turtles, and other wetland wildlife. Nearby, seafood lovers can tuck into crab cakes, crab legs, oyster po’boys, and other surf and turf delights like prime rib and smoked beef brisket sandwiches at Jimmy Joy’s Log Cabin Inn — just make sure you save room for homemade coconut cake or Queen City Creamery frozen custard for dessert. Other places worth checking out along the scenic byway include the Town Hill Overlook in Little Orleans and, just beyond Washington County’s boundaries, Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, the Great Allegheny Passage (which starts in Cumberland, Maryland and ends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and charming small towns like Cumberland, Frostburg, and Grantsville, gateway to Casselman River Bridge State Park. If you’re short on time, consider breaking up your Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway road trip by interest or section, as its Eastern and Western portions extend well beyond Washington County and cover all sorts of historic sites, quaint country towns, and other intriguing attractions. The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Scenic Byway Lockhouse on C&O Canal near Cushwa Basin - Credit: Betsy DeVore Travel along the C&O Canal Scenic Byway from Cumberland to Hagerstown and points beyond via several Maryland routes (65, 63, 68, 56, 51, and 144, as well as I-70 and US 40), following the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historic Park, an extensive 184.5-mile waterway connecting Washington, D.C. with Cumberland, Maryland. The C&O Canal Towpath runs alongside it, acting as a major destination for runners, cyclists, and anyone in need of a long walk by the Potomac River. If you prefer a paved path, the adjacent Western Maryland Rail Trail, which runs 28 miles between Big Pool and Little Orleans, makes a great option for those longing to stretch their legs. While Williamsport is a major center of activity along the C&O Canal Scenic Byway, with opportunities to check out the inner workings of the lock during a 1900s-era boat ride or by spending the night in a traditional lockhouse, there are a few other spots worth visiting along the canal as well. In Hancock, grab a bite or pick up some locally made souvenirs at The Blue Goose Market, home to a popular bakery, then stop by the visitor center to learn more about the town’s history beside the busy canal system. Get some fresh air by taking a hike in the Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area, home to some of the area’s oldest geology, as well as songbirds, white-tailed deer, black bears, grouse, and wild turkeys. If time allows, hike up to Paw Paw Tunnel, which takes you up from the campground through a pitch-black tunnel (don’t forget to bring a flashlight!) so you can view waterfalls on the other side. If you’ve managed to work up an appetite after all that, head to Buddy Lou’s Antiques and Eats for delicious Southern-style treats like fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, and crabcake sandwiches. Another popular canal town, Sharpsburg, is known for its proximity to Antietam National Battlefield and for being part of its own scenic byway. The Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway Antietam Old Simon Civil War Soldier - Credit Scott Cantner Think of the Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway as the ultimate open-air Civil War museum, taking visitors from White’s Ferry along several Maryland Routes — 107 and 109 to Hyattstown, 355 to Frederick, US Route 40 Alternate to Middletown, 17 to Gathland State Park, 67 to Knoxville, 340 to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and US Route 40 Alternate — through Middletown and Boonsboro to Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg. Popular stops include historic White’s Ferry, C&O Canal National Historical Park (which we just talked about), and Little Bennett Regional Park in Hyattstown. Next, you’ll hit Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, where the fighting raged on and essentially saved Washington, D.C. from a Confederate invasion, Gathland State Park, home to a large stone monument created to honor Civil War correspondents, and South Mountain State Battlefield, which helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Union. Antietam Battlefield - Credit: National Park Service The scenic byway ends at its most well-known stop, Antietam National Battlefield, where on September 17, 1862, roughly 23,000 soldiers were killed in what is now known as the bloodiest single-day battle in American history — check the website, as there will be special events held over the weekend of September 17, 2022, to mark the 160th anniversary. All year long, you can learn about the battle and those who fought and died there at the visitor center, hear about Civil War medicine at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, and reflect on the lives that were lost at Antietam National Cemetery. Raise a glass to history and those who came before at Antietam Creek Vineyards, also located in Sharpsburg, offering several locally made vintage white, red, and rosé wines and views of the nearby battlefield. CARD WIDGET HEREVisit Hagerstown
With summer just around the corner, now is the time to start planning your next great vacation, whether you’re into epic cross-country road trips or crave a peaceful escape in a beautiful natural setting. From coast to coast, the U.S. is home to 63 national parks and more than 6,600 state parks, leaving plenty of options for anyone planning to spend more time outdoors this summer. Here’s a look at some of our favorite national parks in the country, all within driving distance of major cities, full of great hiking and camping opportunities, and worthy of a spot on your U.S. travel bucket list. Note that most parks require timed entry tickets during the busy summer months, so check their websites before you go to avoid disappointment. Each park also charges its own entrance fee, so consider purchasing an annual pass if you plan to visit multiple times or multiple parks in a year. WYOMING Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park Measuring 3,472 square miles (or more than 2.2 million acres), Yellowstone National Park stretches across northwestern Wyoming, extending into parts of Montana and Idaho. Opened in 1872 as the world’s first-ever national park, Yellowstone attracts visitors with its hydrothermal features and geothermal activity — roughly four million people visit each year to see the Old Faithful geyser do its thing — rock formations like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and the chance to see elk, bison, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and other wildlife in their natural environment. Reach the park by flying into Jackson (which is closed due to construction until June 28, 2022) or Cody in Wyoming, Billings or Bozeman in Montana, or Idaho Falls in Idaho, and renting a car to explore the area. Grand Teton National Park Located just outside Jackson, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park offers 330,000 acres of pure natural beauty, whether you choose to explore it on snowshoes or cross-country skis in winter or during a scenic summer hike. Enter via Moose, Moran Junction, or Granite Canyon, and spend a few hours admiring the impressive Teton Range, Emma Matilda Lake, Jenny Lake, the Snake River, Jackson Hole valley, and all the different birds, mammals and other fascinating creatures who call the area home. Note that Jackson’s airport is closed for construction until June 28, 2022, but you can still fly into Idaho Falls and either drive two hours or take a bus to downtown Jackson. UTAH Arches National Park Use Moab as your base to hike or cycle the Arches National Park, known for its vast collection of natural arches, giant balancing rocks, and impressive pinnacles among other geologic formations dating back to 65 million years ago. Make the 1.9-mile hike from the Devils Garden trailhead for impressive views of Landscape Arch, the longest in the world at 306 feet. Don’t forget about Delicate Arch, which can be seen from two viewpoints located a mile away near the parking lot. Otherwise, enjoy the challenging three-mile return hike to its base, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and a closer look. Bryce Canyon National Park Bryce Canyon National Park Hoodoos are the name of the game at Bryce Canyon National Park, where you can see this fascinating rock formation in all its glory whether you drive, take the free shuttle, hike, or cycle your way around the park. Located four hours from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, the popular park sports pink cliffs, red rocks, and amazing views from its perch at the top of the Grand Staircase plateau. Visit Bryce Amphitheater, home to the Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point overlooks, which lead to some of the park’s best hiking trails. Make time to visit the Natural Bridge and Rainbow Point side of the park for even more memorable views. Zion National Park Zion National Park impresses with vast and colorful sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and plenty of opportunities to go hiking and cycling. While cars aren’t allowed in the park, a free shuttle takes visitors around to the most popular scenic overlooks and trailheads, including easier hikes like the Grotto Trail and Riverside Walk, moderate hikes like the Kayenta Trail and walks to the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools, and more strenuous hiking adventures to The Narrows or Angels Landing via the iconic West Rim Trail. Be aware that in response to concerns about crowding and congestion on the trail, on and after April 1, 2022, everyone who hikes Angels Landing needs to have a permit. COLORADO Rocky Mountain National Park About 90 minutes from Denver or 10 minutes from Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to more than 300 miles of scenic hiking trails, taking visitors through impressive alpine terrain past beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and giving you a chance to spot bobcats, moose, coyotes, deer, black bears, bighorn sheep, and more than 280 species of birds, among other wildlife. Start with a relaxing walk near Bear Lake, Cub Lake, or along the Lily Lake Loop before moving on to moderate hikes to Ouzel Falls and Cascade Falls, or a challenging hikes to the Deer Mountain summit. CALIFORNIA Yosemite National Park Yosemite National Park One of the most popular national parks in the country and just a four-hour drive from San Francisco, Yosemite is home to 1,200-square-miles of natural wilderness featuring waterfalls, ancient sequoia trees, vast valleys and meadows, and lots of opportunities to go hiking, biking, fishing, stargazing, birdwatching, rock climbing, horseback riding, and camping — you’ll need to apply for a permit to do overnight hikes or climb to the top of Half Dome, though. Try an easy day hike in Mariposa Grove or the Wawona meadow before taking on more difficult treks to Chilnualna Falls or around the Guardians Loop Trail. Note that Glacier Point Road is closed until May 2023. Kings Canyon National Park Located about 4.5 hours from either Los Angeles or San Francisco, Kings Canyon National Park is a beautiful place to take a hike, especially on Congress Trail, which passes by the largest sequoia in the world at 275 feet tall and more than 36 feet in diameter at its base, the 2,200-year-old General Sherman Tree. For incredible views of the Great Western Divide and Kings Canyon, try the 4.4-mile return hike along Big Baldy Trail. Don’t miss Giant Forest, home to enormous redwood trees, and scenic hikes to Tokopah Falls or through Cedar Grove, Grant Grove, and Mineral King. Death Valley National Park At a whopping three million acres, Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the country outside Alaska as well as the lowest, with an elevation of –282.2 feet. A great day trip from Las Vegas just two hours away, the park is known for its many scenic hikes of varying difficulty, as well hundreds of miles of paved and dirt roads perfect for cycling. “Star Wars” fans can also visit several film locations, including Artists Palette, Dante’s View, Desolation Canyon, Golden Canyon, Twenty-Mule Team Canyon, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which doubled as Tatooine in “Episode IV: A New Hope” and “Episode V: Return of the Jedi.” OREGON Crater Lake National Park For a memorable West Coast road trip through the wilderness of southern Oregon, head to Crater Lake National Park, located about five hours south of Portland or 7.5 hours north of San Francisco. Formed by a violent volcanic eruption roughly 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake is the deepest in the U.S., with depths of up to 1,949 feet and the bluest water you’ve ever seen. Take a few hours to enjoy a scenic drive around the lake, stop by Sinnott Overlook for a closer look at the caldera, or hike to the summit of Mount Scott, Watchman Peak, or Garfield Peak for a different point of view. SOUTH DAKOTA Badlands National Park Badlands National Park About an hour outside Rapid City, enter Badlands National Park and drive or cycle along the Badlands Loop Road, where you’ll find 12 scenic overlooks, each offering incredible views of the area’s otherworldly landscapes, unique wildlife, and ancient geology. Stop by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to learn more about the national park, the history and culture of the Oglala Lakota people who live in the area, and to see the working fossil lab. For a real treat, stick around after dark for stargazing and a ranger-led astronomy talk with telescopes at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater, offered nightly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. FLORIDA Everglades National Park Everglades National Park makes a great day trip from anywhere in South Florida, especially if you’re driving from Miami to the Florida Keys. The 1.5-million acre UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest subtropical wilderness area in the country and you’ll be able to spot alligators, American crocodiles, manatees, over 360 species of birds, and the elusive Florida panther, among its mangroves and sawgrass prairies. Stop by the Shark Valley Visitor Center to learn more about the park’s natural inhabitants, hit the Ottercave Trail or Bobcat Boardwalk (each under 0.5 miles), then rent a bike or take a two-hour guided tram tour along the 15-mile loop to the observation tower for beautiful views of the park and its wildlife. ALASKA Denali National Park Denali Mountain, Denali National Park Accessible by plane, Alaska Railway, or car, Denali National Park is about 2.5 hours from Fairbanks or four hours from Anchorage. Once inside the park, take one of the free buses — the Riley Creek Loop shuttle, Savage River shuttle, or the Sled Dog Demonstration shuttle — or choose from several narrated tour buses or non-narrated transit buses to get around. Either way, you’ll want to try the scenic 6.5-mile Curry Ridge Trail, which offers excellent views of alpine lakes and the highest point in North America, 20,310-foot-tall Denali (formerly Mount McKinley). Remember to keep an eye out for the big five: grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and Dall sheep. Content sponsored by IntrepidYour North America adventure is right here, right now. Learn more at https://www.intrepidtravel.com Check out more people and planet-friendly adventures at Intrepid Travel:Explore epic national parks of the USIntrepid Travel