As the snow continues to pile up in the Rockies, thoughts not surprisingly turn to warmer settings, and Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona is a great place to explore in early spring. Wildflowers are coming up, temperatures are warming, but not too hot or too cold, and crowds seemingly have gone elsewhere.
Exploring the Parks
San Francisco has long been our favorite U.S. city to visit. The city is compact, enjoys excellent public transportation, offers great vistas, and is home to outstanding dining, shopping, and a wide variety of attractions. San Francisco is a great walking town with lots of parks and small restaurants where you can rest or purchase a cup of coffee. It's only right that Tony Bennett left his heart in the city by the bay.
I noticed it in a Traveler article around Thanksgiving. A short mention of two nights in December when Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House in Mesa Verde National Park would be lighted by luminarias.
Having spent a week cruising and kayaking through Glacier Bay National Park some years ago, when I saw notice of a new floating base camp for exploring the park, it caught my attention. And when I saw a photo of the ship, it convinced me I had to find a way to persuade my wife we needed another watery visit to this Alaskan park.
We recently returned to southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park for a third time. The previous visits took place a number of years ago and were rushed affairs when we were headed for other destinations. In each case we made a short stop at the park’s Oasis Visitor Center just outside the town of Twenty Nine Palms and drove south through the park to Interstate 10 without another stop of any consequence. Mostly, we were there to see the unusual trees (actually, they aren’t trees) that serve as the park’s namesake with little time for exploration. Unfortunately, we missed the largest concentration of trees and failed to appreciate much of what Joshua Tree National Park has to offer. That was our loss.
Kenya is a land of great natural beauty, where exotic animals roam: fearsome predators like the big cats; massive and powerful rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and elephants; elegant and graceful giraffes, zebras, and antelope; unusual animals like wildebeest, topi, and cape buffalo; colorful and amazing birds; unique carnivores like the hyena. Kenya has more than 50 national parks and reserves and is the most popular safari destination in Africa. It is a great place to visit and one of the best places in the world to observe wildlife.
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.
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.