The Colorado River flows the length of Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah, but the highlight seems to be Cataract Canyon if you listen to paddlers. While some outfitters negotiate a roughly 100-mile stretch of the Colorado River from near Moab to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in a day or two, and others in six days, the main attraction is Cataract Canyon with its bucking white water.
Exploring the Parks
Kalaloch lies right along the Pacific Coast in the southwestern corner of Olympic National Park about halfway between the Hoh and Quinault rain forests. It is certainly the most heavily used camp area in the entire park. Reservations are a must if you want to camp there in summer. Even though I went to work online with Recreation.gov about four months before I planned to visit, there were only a few sites available. Fortunately, I was able to latch on to one of them.
I went for a float last week. Six glorious, sun-drenched days down the Green and Colorado rivers through Canyonlands National Park in Utah. No cellphones, keyboards, motors, or engines, just some R&R with a group of fellow park travelers mixed with some field testing of the National Park System.
I met a charming lady while standing atop what’s left of Glines Canyon Dam – a dam recently removed from Elwha River in Olympic National Park. Sharon Francis and her son were there with a girl who I guess is probably her granddaughter. I offered to take a photo of all three of them together and that led to the discovery that I was talking to the woman who had been Stewart Udall’s speechwriter.
It takes a while to reach Channel Islands National Park off the coast of California, so once you get there plan to spend a few days at least. The following video shows some of the landscapes, above and below water level, that you can explore at Santa Cruz Island.
The motorboat pulls away and disappears across Ross Lake, leaving us in a silence as expansive as the wilderness surrounding us. We shoulder our backpacks and hike up the Big Beaver Trail through a forest drunk on photosynthesis. Ancient cedar and Douglas fir trees rise taller than it seems our necks can tilt backward to view them. We pass red cedars as thick as 15 feet at their base—trees that germinated a millennium ago, around the time that Leif Erikson sailed the East Coast of North America. True to the trail’s name, we pass sprawling beaver ponds.
Visitors come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for many reasons. They want to hike the more than 70 miles of the rugged Appalachian Trail that meander through the park, to camp in its dense forests, to cool off in one of its many streams, or to take a leisurely drive along the scenic Newfound Gap Road that crosses the heart of the park to connect Tennessee with North Carolina. Regardless of the reason, they come—in droves. Every year, 8-10 million people travel to the Smokies, making it the most-visited national park in the country.
Imagine a place in Southern California without freeways; a place without strip malls, smog, and millions of people. Imagine an ocean where the golden fish, the Garibaldi, is prolific with hundreds of other species in an underwater forest of kelp beneath wave-battered sea caves. Imagine a place that is still California as it once was, a century ago, with adobe ranch houses, sweeping vistas of cliffs and beach, mountains and valleys, grasslands and cypress groves, and unbelievable quiet.
I had completely forgotten that Skagway is home to a unit of Klondike Gold Rush before I got off the Alaska Marine Highway ferry M.V. Columbia at the pier in Skagway, Alaska. But there it was right on Main Street – a big Arrowhead outside a large old building labeled Visitor Center.