Love to Adventure? Blog It!

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We live in at a fascinating time in modern culture. Not only are people everywhere discovering new and amazing ways to push themselves head-first into adventure, tackling everything from hitting the slopes via helicopter to white water rafting Celestial Falls, one of the most dangerous rapids to be found in the world, but they are also becoming deeply passionate about recording their experiences for the world to see.

Documenting one’s adventures is certainly nothing new – humans have been drawing, writing, singing songs, and telling their stories of adventures for as far back as we can imagine. Back in the days when the great explorers of the world would jot down the details of their journeys as they trekked through mosquito and tiger-laden jungles and explored the depths of the ocean like Jacques Cousteau, they had to keep months and sometimes years of musings, observations, and stories of incredible moments to share with the world when they could find a publisher and enough material to create a book. 

Today, those who want to share their adventure stories simply need to grab their phone, tablet, or laptop and hit record or snap some pictures, then take audio or typed notes with any app of their choice to communicate their experiences with the world. Every adventure we take today, from trying our first ski vacation to spending a week on a cross-country sled dog expedition to see the Northern lights, is documented and posted on social media for the world to see.

With the rise of social media and instantaneous story sharing has come the rise of the adventure blog. There are so many wonderful and fascinating travel and adventure blogs that it is impossible to list them all, but there is always room for another great storyteller to share their journey. If that sounds like something you are interested in, it may be time for you to create your own blog to share your amazing adventures with the world!

Interested in blogging? Here are the steps needed to share your adventurous spirit:

Find a Great Title

Yes, the content of your blog is what needs to shine, but without a catchy title that lets people know what they’re going to read (and the type of person they are going to read about), your would-be readership will not flock to your blog.

Make sure your blog name is exciting, fun, and of course, relevant to the subject.

Build a Website

Of course, there are lots of blog hosting sites that you can put your blog on for free, but the problems with those types of sites are that they are limited in their ability to be customized and they have so many blogs to look through that it can be near impossible to find yours in a sea of similar-looking ones.

It is easier than ever to create fun, easy to navigate websites for your blog, especially when you are just starting out. If your blog catches on, you can (and should) upgrade to a professional website that earns you some money, but until then, building a website in Weebly or WordPress is something that can be done in a weekend.

Gather Your Best Photos and Video (and Never Stop Taking Them!)

A blog is just as much about visuals as it is about words, and your readers want to see your adventure in action. Instead of just talking about zipping through the Red Rocks of Sedona on an ATV ride, GoPro your helmet and stop to take plenty of stunning photographs! Be sure to touch up your images so that you are presenting only the best material. 

Write!

Hopefully, your best memories of the adventures you’ve been on are still swimming in your head, but if you need inspiration, reflect on your photos, notes, or other memorabilia from your excursion and tell your tale to the world. Don’t forget to include the details – the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations you felt while you were climbing the summit of a mountain, canoeing through Canada, or careening through the desert on an ATV. The small stuff is what makes the journey so powerful, so describe it as best you can.

Define Your Style

It may take some time before you figure out what tone, voice, and direction you want your blog to take, but when you find the element of your blog that makes it unique, different, or just more interesting than other blogs, make it the base of your work. Build on it, and try to keep all of your future blogs flowing in that same direction.

Share It with the World

The whole point of starting a web-hosted blog was to get your words and experiences out into the world, so don’t be stingy with it. Share your blog with your friends, your favorite shops and stores that help you get your adventuring on, and anyone who shares your passion and enthusiasm for having fun and enjoying life!

Connect on Social Media

Don’t forget to inspire your followers and build a much larger following by sharing your pictures, blog links, and other materials on social sites like Instagram and Snapchat. This will help people find your blog from a variety of platforms, and it is a great way to keep your readers updated in between blog posts.

Teaching Children to Enjoy Outdoor Adventures

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Back in the days of fictional 1950’s charm, children everywhere rambled through the backwoods, hiked up mountains, and used collie dogs to help them get out of any tricky situation they may have encountered when they were, without any parental supervision, traversing the wilds of their towns. Those were the days (of television past).

Of course, though it may seem like every kid back then was somehow better equipped to handle the unknown world or that their Boy Scout uniforms and compasses gave them some kind of wilderness survival super power, the truth is children haven’t changed much since the 1950’s. They still love to explore, discover every creepy crawly they can find under a rock, and get bored when they run out of things to do.

While the modern family can certainly enjoy a good hike, ATV trip, or other outdoor adventure together, children have a harder time staying on task and keeping their spirits up during long hours of spent roaming and climbing.

The good news is that you certainly don’t have to consider booking a babysitter and going off on your adventures by yourself to enjoy the trip. Children are made for outdoor adventures, and the more they are included in your nature hikes and drives, the more they will adapt and build the stamina it takes to keep up with, and maybe surpass, their adult adventure companions.

Here are the best tips around for how to get kids interested in and excited about strapping on a backpack or a helmet and tearing off into the great unknown with their parents.

Start Small and Close to Home

If you are planning a week-long hike through one of our national forests with your entire family at the end of the year, you should plan on getting your kids adapted to what goes into making that journey with practice runs.

Choose a spot that is close to home (if possible), and be sure that it is a limited, child-friendly hike. During your short trip, don’t rush and push your child to keep up with you, but instead, let them set the pace for the hike.

If you want to challenge your child to go on an ATV excursion, booking a paced ATV tour is a great way to show them how to get a feel for the machine and learn a bit about the machine and how to control it before they head off on their own.

Bring Adventuring Tools with You

Just as you would pack some activities to keep your children busy during a long flight, you should plan ahead and find adventurous items that will help your child learn to enjoy the wilderness. A bug or bird guide book, a pair of binoculars, a compass, a magnifying glass, and maybe even a scavenger hunting map will keep kids engaged in the adventure instead of just dragging their feet through it.

Want one better? Invite one of your child’s friends to come along. They’ll have a ready playmate and they will be more excited to show off their adventuring prowess with a buddy than with adults.

Pack Plenty of Snacks

There is no need to stock up like you’re going camping for the weekend, but be sure to pack snacks and treats that children will look forward to during designated break times. Plan on stopping more often than normal so that your child can rest and enjoy their food.

Let Them Explore!

If there is one thing that fictional TV shows and movies have shown us that echoes real life, it is that kids really do love to be outdoors and discover the world around them! More than any other time in their childhoods, children should be encouraged to explore everything from rocks to plants to river beds, and of course, bugs and insects as they learn how to adventure.

Pro tip – bring a notebook and a pencil and teach your child to take observation notes every time they find something interesting or learn something new. Coming across a beautiful butterfly or strange insect will unleash your child’s imagination, and they will be excited to jot down their ideas and descriptions of these fun and thought-provoking experiences.

We bet they’ll want to share those experiences and field notes with everyone at school!

A Summer Adventure Reading List: Part Two

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Is there anything more refreshing than relaxing in the summer sun with a good book? While we may all want to hop into a fast vehicle and take off into the wild unknown, it is not always easy to hit the road or the right time to embark on a rollicking adventure.

Don’t fret if you can’t get away from it all just yet, though. One of the very best tools for adventuring through time, space, and all the greatest expanses this world has to offer are as far away as your tablet, bookstore, or local library.

Books are the perfect way to go on an adventure (or two or ten), and no matter your interests, there will undoubtedly be a book (or two or ten again) to suit your tastes! If you need some help getting started on your journey into the wilds of book adventures this summer, simply do the following:

First, check out Part One of this blog, and second, read on and discover a world of adventure with the turn of a page!

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (aka Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke)

You probably know the movie Out of Africa, but the novel is loaded with exploration, discovery, and the true story of one woman’s 17-year journey. Dinesen’s life was irrevocably transformed when she moved from Denmark to a 4-thousand-acre plantation in Kenya with her then-husband. Long after he left, Blixen remained, discovering the country, the culture, and the people of this land all on her own terms.

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

Escaping a Siberian gulag in 1941 is no small task, and what this band of 7 escapees would go through to find their freedom is nothing short of astounding. Though this book, originally published in 1956 as his own story of survival by Polish officer Slavomir Rawicz, it would come to light later that Rawicz did not make the 11-month, 4,000-mile journey from Siberia through China, Tibet, the Gobi desert, and over the Himalayas to make it to British-occupied India.

However, the story was not a fabrication – it is the true story of Witold Glinski, another Polish man who was arrested by the invading Russian forces in 1939 and sentenced to a work prison in Siberia. What Glinski and his fellow escapees went through is an adventure that almost defies the telling of it. From frostbitten Siberia through scorching deserts and over mountains so high you must fight breathe, the heroes’ journey is as fantastic as they come.

Wind, Sand and Stars by Antione de Saint-Exupéry

This aviator adventure will take you to the most dizzying heights, and will make you simultaneously envious of and grateful that you are not Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This autobiography and stories of a pioneering aristocratic aviator’s career flying mail for Aéropostale across the Sahara, the Andes, and other dangerous and harrowing places around the world.

Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum

Climbing Annapurna I, the tenth highest peak in the world, was exclusively a man’s job. That was until 1978 when a team of 13 women embarked on a quest to tackle this mountain themselves. Treacherous storms, ice walls, unfortunate deaths, and a laundry list of hazards that come with the territory of extreme mountain climbing abound in this tale of adventure and triumph by a team of extraordinary women who would go on to inspire generations of women throughout the world.

 

A Summer Adventure Reading List: Part One

reading adventure

There are times when we need to go out into the world to seek adventure all our own – experience new cultures, feel the rush of adrenaline as we drive through unexplored landscapes, and get a little (okay, a lot) closer to nature and the natural elements that remind us of how truly great this great big world is.

Though we may want to experience the thrill of adventure first-hand, there are also times when vicarious adventures get our hearts racing, make our minds soar, and fill us with the motivation to plan our next excursion. For centuries, humans have turned to books to do just that, and even if we can’t spend every day of our lives adventuring, we can certainly spend our days and nights wrapped up in stories fraught with danger, excitement, and of course, inspiration.

Gathered here is a list of books – some classics, some modern masterpieces, and few in between – that will make you crave adventure page after page.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Just as Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, a national bestseller, cataloged his memorable travels through the Appalachian Trail, In a Sunburned Country blends Bryson’s unique humor, deep passion for exploration, and willingness to try just about anything with his pitch-perfect storytelling. Always off the beaten tourist path, he finds adventure, danger, and a whole lot of sunshine amongst some of the most pleasant people to be found anywhere. Let Bill Bryson be your guide to the road much less traveled.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

With a wounded heart, a broken marriage, and nothing to lose, Cheryl Strayed made a decision to find lose herself in an adventure – a thousand-mile hike from California to Washington State via the Pacific Crest Trail. What she found and learned along the way made her stronger, resilient, and whole once more.

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl

The true story of biologist Thor Heyerdahl’s strange 4,300-mile journey across the Pacific Ocean – on a raft. In an attempt to trace the path of a legendary hero Kon-Tiki, Heyerdahl set sail across the sea from Peru with 5 adventurers in 1927 – and what they discovered along the way would make them the envy of would-be adventurers everywhere.  

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby

Daring to venture through the Nuristan Mountains of Afghanistan without any real experience, Newby’s journey is a travel account as humorous as it is heart-pounding with excitement. Not your typical travel adventure, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is an inspiring tale of what can be done when you simply set your mind to seek out the unknown.

I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson

This is the memoir of a young woman’s adventures around the world with her photographer/videographer husband, but she’s no ordinary Kansas girl following her man around. I Married Adventure is the true story of a woman who found herself and her passions while traveling the world with her best friend. These classic adventure stories are too good to pass up.

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

An account of Abbey’s three-season stint as a park ranger in Utah, Desert Solitaire is a book for anyone who loves getting up close and personal with nature – and will do anything to protect it. Though written back in 1968, Abbey’s experiences, wisdom, and raw passion for preserving what he holds most dear resonates with audiences of all generations. 

Want to Raise a Brave Daughter? Teach Her to Be Adventurous

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We are living in a time of serious change in attitudes toward women and gender roles in the United States. Gender bias is at the forefront of hiring decisions, as are the issues around unequal pay in the workforce. Women are stepping up daily to fight for their rights, defend their freedoms, and demonstrate their strength in numbers. If you have a daughter, you are probably keenly aware of the ways that her life and her struggles will be significantly different than your own.

Everyone wants their children to feel safe, act courageously, and make smart choices when faced with difficult decisions. These types of behaviors are learned, cultivated, and nurtured very early on in a child’s life, and takes place at a time when parents, for a variety of reasons, begin encouraging their boys to climb trees, challenge each one another physically, and take lots of risks. Unlike boys at this age, girls typically get encouraged not to take risks at all, usually for fear that they will be injured. In fact, little girls are often told that they should fear the challenges rather than confront them head-on.

When we teach girls to seek adventure the same way we teach boys to, girls thrive (just like the boys). Encouraging girls to be adventurous emboldens them to take risks, assess dangers smartly, make wise choices, confront injustice, and face the world with the confidence needed to become a leader. Brave girls are built on a foundation of adventure.

There will always be a lot of fears that go along with parenting, but never fear encouraging your children – all of your children – to light their adventurous fire within.

Offer Help and Advice, Not Caution

Children are innately afraid of very little, which is why their play is so active, engaging, and physical. When your daughter runs to the jungle gym and begins to climb the seemingly unclimbable, resist the urge to tell her to be careful. Instead, tell her to think ahead, to take small steps, and trust in herself and her abilities to accomplish the task at hand.

She may never get up there, but it won’t be because she never tried. Chances are good that she will continue to try again and again until she meets that challenge, giving her a beautiful boost of confidence she’ll carry to her next challenge.

Let Her Take Charge

Whether it’s setting up an outdoor obstacle course for the family, choosing her own sports team to join, or taking the wheel of an ATV, your daughter will discover something about her decision-making skills that she could have never known without your encouragement to let her lead. She will learn that sometimes we make great choices and everything works out. By letting your daughter lead on an adventurous task, she will also learn that sometimes we succeed at challenges just as often as we fail, and that lesson will stay with her and inform the next decision she makes.

Encourage Her to Dream BIGGER

When you ask a kid what they want to be, do, or accomplish when they grow up, you will get a myriad of answers ranging from the traditional “doctor” or “veterinarian,” to the untraditional like “space horse racer.” No matter how average or silly our children want to be, there are always ways that they can be inspired to go bigger, bolder, and more adventurous.

While being a space horse racer is a perfectly reasonable accomplishment, let her ponder what it would mean to be the woman who discovered the first space horse or the rancher who breeds them. What about being the president of the first space horse riding company, or the leader of the space horse army? When you present children with limitless imaginary adventures and possibilities, they will raise their bar of achievable goals higher and higher.

Be the Adventurous Person She Looks Up To (and find her other models of brave, adventurous behavior too)

Children learn so much from their parents, and that’s why it is important for parents to model the behavior they want to see in their children. Instead of demonstrating fear of eating new foods, take the plunge and eat something that might be gross to show her that it won’t hurt her to be adventurous. Take on a physical challenge you previously thought insurmountable, from joining a CrossFit class to going mountain climbing, and show your daughter how even difficult tasks can be achieved with training and practice.

Read your children real tales of adventurous women and men who challenged themselves to be brave in the face of danger or fought for what they believed in. Stories of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jane Goodall, Bessie Coleman, Jacques Cousteau, and Amelia Earhart will inspire your sons and daughters alike to be adventurous, aspire to greatness, challenge authority, and take charge of their dreams.

Bravery is contagious. Pass it on!

Cultivate an Adventurous Spirit!

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“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway

At least once a year, sometimes around our birthdays, sometimes around the new year, and sometimes when we see someone doing something so adventurous that it fills us with excitement to experience the same, we all get that prickly little feeling inside that we can’t quite put our finger on. It’s a tingle from your brain to your limbs; it’s a call to your muscles to move differently, act impulsively, and plunge head-first into something entirely new.

Researchers believe the human desire for new experiences comes from a primitive drive to take risks that help us survive. Essentially, the communities that took the chance to find better food braved the terrifying beasts instead of running away and brokered rocky alliances with enemies against their better judgment were more likely to thrive. Why? Because human brains are wired for adventure, excitement, and the thrill of the chase, so those who used everything at their disposal to survive fared better.

Basic human drives aside, what does adventure mean, anyway? Adventure can be hard to define because it means something different to everyone. For some, adventure means trying any food that they can get their hands on to expand their palate. For others, careening downward through the air after jumping from a helicopter and pulling the cord at the last possible second before you hit the ground is the only thing that constitutes adventure. There are a million other ways to describe what an adventure is, but what’s important is how you, and only you, define it.

If you are feeling the tingle, the deep-down need for adventure bubbling up inside, calling to your legs and arms to get moving, but are unsure how to go about begin, it is high time to practice cultivating your adventurous spirit.

Travel

You’ve heard it a thousand times, and you’ll hear it a million more – traveling the world makes you a different person, and will shape you in ways you cannot imagine.

Now, there’s nothing that says that traveling means that you have to climb Kilimanjaro, herd goats in Uganda, or take part in a midnight whale shark dive in Belize. Any travel that gets you out of your comfort zone is an adventure worth partaking in. You can have a profound adventure at roadside diner fifty miles outside of town. What matters is that you take the leap and move outside of your familiar spaces.

Live for Now

Live for now, YOLO, whatever you want to call it, is a common theme amongst the world’s biggest adventurers, and it is not just a clever way to justify taking stupid risks. Living for the moment simply means taking the time to see the myriad of small opportunities that present themselves to us every day. Take a long way home instead of your usual route. Talk to a stranger on the bus because they look interesting. Finally sign up for that adult education class that you’ve been thinking about taking.

Finding little everyday ways to make yourself aware of the small adventures will help you see the big ones when they come calling – and give you the confidence to see them through.

Unplug Yourself

In a world where we are constantly connected to everything and everyone at the touch of a button, can you think of anything more unnerving, scary, and thrilling than simply unplugging from it all for a while? Whether you climb a mountain without your phone or just take the dog for an extra-long walk without it, make unplugging yourself from the digital world a regular habit and you will open yourself up to a whole lot of opportunities to connect with the world around you in a whole new way.

Prepare Yourself for the Big Adventures  

Don’t let the “live for now” campaign stop you from planning the big stuff. There are a lot of bucket list adventures that we dream about doing which cannot be done spontaneously. If you want to go white water rafting down some serious rapids, spend a few weekends kayaking and building up your rowing muscles. Whatever your passion, from traveling somewhere new to mastering the sand dunes on an ATV, don’t forget that practicing is a part of the adventure too.

Last, don’t fight the innate human urge to get out into the world. It’s a call for adventure that you simply cannot, and should not, ignore.

 

Water, Water Everywhere! The Best of Southern Arizona’s Water Spots

seven falls Arizona water swimming

If you do not live in Southern Arizona, it may be hard to believe that in this vast desert we find ourselves with lots of access to some of the best water spots around. From fishing to swimming, Southern Arizona is home to some of the most picturesque and quiet water spots around.

If Arizonans know how to do anything well, it’s cool off on long hot days. Winters in Southern Arizona quickly give way to early, warm Springs, and there is no better time to take advantage of the picture-perfect weather than to indulge in some water activities.

Keeping the range within two hours of Tucson, here are the best spots to dive head-first into all the beautiful and bountiful water that Southern Arizona has to offer.

Romero Canyon Pools, Tucson

Nestled deep in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains of Tucson you’ll find Romero Pools, a series of rock-lined swimming holes that are simply breathtaking to behold and loaded with greenery.

While some of the swimming holes require just a quick hike to reach, some of the most beautiful ones can only be reached by tackling some challenging switchback trails first, making them generally quieter than the rest. Spring rains and monsoon storms fill up these pools, so the best time to go is just after a storm.

Rose Canyon Lake, Mt. Lemmon

High atop Mount Lemmon in Tucson is a gorgeous little 6-acre lake complete with campgrounds and seemingly year-round perfect temperatures. This is the place to go for fishing in Southern Arizona, and you should seriously consider spending the night in one of Tucson’s most scenic campgrounds before waking up early to catch your limit.

Seven Falls, Tucson

Another need to visit watering hole in Tucson is the Seven Falls spot in Sabino Canyon, one of Tucson’s favorite spots to ditch the heat of summer. Not only is it located just minutes away from all the amenities of Tucson, but when the water levels are up, this waterfall spot is truly breathtaking, and can quickly become your new favorite spot in the Old Pueblo.

Patagonia Lake, Nogales

Tucked away in the always gorgeous Patagonia Lake State Park just about an hour south of Tucson lies Patagonia Lake, one of the best fishing spots in all of Arizona. With the bass, flathead and channel catfish, sunfish, crappies, and bluegills always biting, it should be no surprise that Patagonia Lake is a must-do for the avid fisherman.

The nearby Lakeside Market is the place to rent your boat and load up on supplies before you head off for a day of fishing. Who knows, you might just catch the biggest catfish since the 56.2 pounder one lucky fisherman caught in the lake in 2014.

Fossil Creek, Phoenix

A lush water spot in a city known for its desert landscape, Fossil Creek is just a short hike down a trail, and you won’t be sorry you went. Because of the spot’s immense popularity and subsequent disrespect by the hundreds of visitors who made the 5-mile hike in and out of Fossil Creek, Park Services have made the spot ‘permit only,’ reserving exactly 9 parking spots per day for visitors to enjoy the swimming hole as it was meant to be enjoyed, and keep the area clean for years to come.

Four National Parks You Need to Experience

Olympic National Park

There are a lucky few who get to spend their weekends adventuring. Far too many people, by contrast, find a million little reasons not to get outdoors and experience the world around them.

This year, don’t let your million little excuses stop you from taking part in and witnessing some of the most magnificent, splendid, and breathtaking places on Earth.

Dive head-first into adventure with a trip to one of these incredible National Parks, and do it up right. No quick half-day trips, no walk-and-talks with the office, no settling for anything less than a full-blown National Park adventure that you and your family will never forget.

1. Yosemite, California

Ten minutes in Yosemite will yield you a lifetime’s worth of awe-inspiring beauty and wonder, but don’t let that stop you from really exploring all that this huge national park has to offer.

At 2,424 feet, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America and the sixth largest one in the world. Find your way to the Sierra Nevada mountain range and take in one of the most beloved waterfalls anywhere in the world.

It doesn’t get more picturesque than Tuolumne Meadows, a Bob Ross-style painting come to life. This is the place to camp, hike, and explore among a tremendous variety of tree and plant species, and all set against a backdrop of majestic mountains and the Tuolumne River.

Cathedral Peak, part of the Cathedral Mountain Range that runs through Yosemite, is a must-not-miss sight. This granite peak soars 10,911 feet into the air, and deserves a visit.

Don’t miss out on the rafting, fishing, camping, rock climbing, and endless hiking opportunities that Yosemite has to offer.

2. Olympic, Washington

Rainforest, mountains, pristine coastlines – there is nothing Olympic doesn’t have to offer visitors. Animal lovers would be remiss to skip Olympic’s furry offerings either. Elk roam the parks, sea lions and seals spot the coastlines, and this is the place to spot America’s pride and joy, the American bald eagle.

Sol Duc Falls is one of the most resplendent waterfalls in the United States, so it should be no surprise that so many photographers scramble to catch perfect shots of it year after year. Hiking to the falls is an easy trip loaded with some of the most fairy-tale like scenery you have ever encountered. See for yourself just how magical it really is!

When you’re done hiking the falls, take a relaxing stroll on Kalaloch Beach at the southern end of the park. Kalaloch Beach is a marine life sanctuary, and you can spend an entire day on the beach animal watching and experiencing the lapping waves from the Pacific.

You have your choice of two rainforests at Olympic – the Quinault and the Hoh. These wet, green, flourishing spots are home to some of the oldest trees in the world, including big Sitka, the 1,000-year old spruce that is 191 feet tall.

3. Saguaro, Arizona

If you have not experienced the grandeur of the majestic Saguaro cactus, it is high-time you pack a bag and head off to explore this national park treasure. Guardians of the Sonoran Desert, Saguaros are the ambassadors of the sprawling desert before them. Reaching over 50 feet in height and living as long as 200 years, the Saguaro is the pride and joy of Saguaro National Park and the Southwest.

The National Park was created around Saguaro Forest, protecting the acres of twisted and prickly trees that call this land their home. Before you think that Saguaro National Park is just a couple of interesting cacti and nothing more, think again.

The Saguaro National Forest is teeming with life, including black bears, white-tailed deer, packs of javelina, and countless varieties of migrating and permanent birds from spotted owls to quail to woodpeckers.

If you are a flower lover, you need to see and explore Saguaro National Forest when it is brimming with wildflowers including marigolds, Mexican gold poppies, and the gorgeous white flower blossoms of the Saguaro cactus that open only at night and last just a few hours.

4. Smoky Mountains, North Carolina & Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains are the most visited national park in the U.S. for a reason. There is nothing quite like the endless hidden corners, surprise gems, and winding hiking trails of the Smoky Mountains – and that’s just a small part of the 522,000 acres that make up the park.

The striking mountain vistas are reason enough to go for a long, extended weekend at Smoky, but while you’re there, don’t miss out on experiencing the countless outdoor activities available in the parks.

Fancy yourself a fisherman or fisherwoman? Interested in getting your pulse racing with some whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing? Grab your gear and dive on into all the water that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

Not only can you hike, drive, and off-road ride through the Smoky Mountains, but you can also take a train through all that expansive wilderness! When you hop off the train, you have the great outdoors at your fingertips, where you can chase some waterfalls, explore the history and culture of the native Cherokee people, and even go mining for gems. When you’re done doing as much as you can at the end of the day, get a good night’s rest in your sleeping bag and wake up in the morning to another day of adventures.

There are thousands of things that there are to see and do in our favorite National Parks, but the only way that you’ll ever discover what you’ve been missing is to grab your backpack and see them for yourself.

Arizona’s Best Spots for Nature Photography: Part Two

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It is profoundly hard to beat Arizona when it comes to the magnificence of the natural landscape. For thousands of years this land has been drawing in people of all cultures and creeds to witness her beauty first-hand, and that means that Arizona has become a mecca of sorts for those who specialize in the art of natural beauty.

Any nature photographer worth their salt has spent time exploring the varied and vast Arizona regions for the chance to capture a moment of all this beauty with their cameras. Thankfully, Arizona offers countless opportunities for nature lovers to land the perfect shot.

In Part One of this blog, we explored some of the locations in Arizona that are begging to be photographed by professionals and amateurs alike including Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Havasu Falls, and the always amazing Sedona.

If you have an interest in nature photography, you need to make it a point to stop by these excellent Arizona locations to fill your portfolio with some stunning nature photography. Here are five more places that you do not want to miss as you tour Arizona grabbing picture after picture.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

In northern Arizona, on Colorado Plateau, there is a national monument so unbelievably impressive that it has to be seen with your own eyes to truly be real. The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument includes the areas of Coyote Buttes and The Wave, both incredibly popular spots for landscape photographers.

This remote national treasure has been able to remain pristine due to the limited number of people allowed to visit. To see the Vermilion Cliffs up close, you need a permit and a sturdy vehicle (some paths are only accessible with a four-wheel-drive vehicle) capable of making through the unpaved deep sand path to get to the Cliffs.

Monument Valley

On the Navajo Nation land lies Monument Valley, one of the most oft-photographed locations in the world. The remarkable sandstone formations are some of the easiest to recognize landmarks in the country, towering upwards of 1,000 feet in the sky.

The colors, structures, and honestly the entire landscape surrounding them, are ready to be photographed from all angles. Since the site is protected, some access points are only accessible via Navajo-guided tours to preserve the beauty for thousands of years longer.

Sonoran Desert National Monument

If you are looking for vast and splendid mountains, perfect cacti, and the most expansive stretch of starry skies you’ve ever laid your eyes on, head to the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The monument protects a portion of the Sonoran Desert that is the most biologically diverse section of desert anywhere in North America.

A saguaro cactus forest, three mountain ranges, valleys of wildflowers, clear skies, and historic trails are all waiting for your keen eye to snap some memorable photographs that perfectly capture life in the Sonoran Desert at that one moment in time.

Saguaro Forest National Park

The giant saguaro cacti, the largest of its kind in the U.S., finds its home in Tucson, Arizona. These regal plants can only live in a small section of the country, and they can live to be hundreds of years old, which is why they are a nationally-protected species.

With 128 miles of trails, Saguaro Forest National Park is the place to be to snap some photos of wildlife, especially colorful desert birds who make their home in the cacti. Wrens, warblers, owls and purple martins make interesting subjects, and the scenery all around them is pretty hard to beat. Don’t leave before sunset or you will miss out on one of the most breathtaking sites around.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Within the Navajo Nation land also lies Canyon de Chelly National Monument, which houses the main point of interest for photographers, Spider Rock. Spider Rock, which can be seen from the South Rime Drive of the monument, is a narrow, shockingly 750-foot sandstone spear in the middle of a vast canyon.

When the sun hits Canyon de Chelly National Monument just right (which is pretty much all day long), you can take photographs that you will treasure for a lifetime. Go during the rainy season and be on the lookout for rainbows, which have a habit of aligning perfectly with the spire, much to the delight of every photographer with a camera on hand.

Arizona’s Best Spots for Nature Photography: Part One

shutterstock_292893329From every corner of the globe, people flock to experience the majesty and iconic beauty of the Arizona landscape, and it is easy to see why. Our picturesque vistas, stunning mountain views, and seemingly endless desert sprawls is hard to beat, and our state offers tons of adventuring opportunities to get visitors up close and personal with all that nature.

One of the most enthralling ways that people connect with nature is through photography, and it should come as no surprise that Arizona offers natural photography opportunities in spades.

If you are planning a visit to Arizona, whether you head up north to Flagstaff and Sedona or down south to Tucson and Phoenix, you will find a whole lot of photographable places that are begging for your attention.

Yes, the Grand Canyon is a remarkably beautiful and needs to be experienced, but don’t let your trip end there!

Don’t pass up these must-see and world-famous locales that will turn your photography hobby into a full-blown nature photography obsession. We promise you don’t have to be a National Geographic photographer to get the best out of Arizona’s beauty. Her glory is ever-present; you need only look around you to see it.

Antelope Canyon

A very recognizable location, Antelope Canyon is far and away one of the most beautiful and oft-photographed places in the world. Not only do these canyons boast some of the most impressive views anywhere in the world, but they are only accessible by guided tour as they are on the Navajo Nation land and are a part of the history and stories of the native peoples of Arizona. This helps preserve the location so that everyone can experience its beauty.

Horseshoe Bend

About twenty minutes from Antelope Canyon you’ll find Horseshoe Bend, which is a portion of the Colorado River. This spot offers visitors some of the best water-meets-rocks photographs anywhere in the world. A photographer’s dream, there’s no guard rail at this rock cliff, allowing you to grab some wide-angle shots that you will be bragging about for years to come.

Havasu Falls

On the Havasupai Indian Reservation lies Havasu Falls, hidden ten miles from the nearest drivable roadway. The name Havasupai comes from the waterfall itself, and is translated as “people of the blue-green water.” Tucked away in the heart of the mountains is a blue-green waterfall careening off a cliff surrounded by desert greenery, making Havasu Falls a dream come true spot for any nature photographer.

Sedona

As the spiritual epicenter of the United States, it should be no surprise that tens of thousands of visitors flock to Sedona each year to experience a profound connection with the remarkable landscape. The red rocks are as iconic as they are impressive, and no matter how many people shoot photo after photo of Sedona, no two are ever alike. Sedona’s varied landscape is a combination of rock, sand, fertile soil, and lush greenery, making it a photographer’s holy grail.

There are a lot of picture-perfect locales in Sedona that require a little (or a lot) of off-road excursions, so strap on a helmet and grab an off the beaten path ATV tour that will yield spectacular photo ops.

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