Those of us who live in the States are lucky. We have one of the best National Park systems in the world. We also have fast, efficient Interstates that will take you close enough to most of them that you don’t have to worry about off-roading in your RV!
But what makes those parks so great is really the breathtaking natural beauty that is preserved there. Every place in the world has its unique sights to see, but you just can’t beat standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon watching the sun go down.
Here is a brief introduction to 3 of America’s oldest and still best national parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Yellowstone National Park – Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming
Yellowstone is the first, and many consider the greatest National Park in the United States. It’s a wonderland of spouting geysers, unique rock formations and other leftover evidence of a massive volcanic explosion over 600,000 years ago.
Don’t worry, it’s all cooled off now. At Yellowstone, you can see the world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful. Early settlers thought it was a noxious spew from hell itself, but nowadays we know it’s just a geothermal process, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.
Yellowstone has a reputation for being crowded, and it’s true that it’s a popular destination. If you really want to see the park, park your motor home and hike off the beaten path. Yellowstone has lots of great hiking trails, more than enough for everybody to enjoy without crowding each other. There are plenty of day hikes with spectacular views.
Yellowstone has at least 12 different campgrounds, and they’re all first come, first served. Before you go, you’ll want to call ahead and see about fire restrictions. If you’re with the family and you want to stick to some luxurious digs, there are KOA’s and other commercial campgrounds just outside the park with more modern conveniences where you can park your motor home or RV.
Yosemite National Park- Eastern California
Yosemite is another one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The wilderness of Yosemite represents all kinds of terrain, including meadows, valleys, mountains and great forests, and it’s not too far from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Probably the most amazing thing about Yosemite is the waterfalls. It has more waterfalls than any other single place on earth. Steep cliffs of granite abound, and from certain points in the valley you can see seven or eight big ones at once. It may be tempting, but don’t try swimming in the pools, because the force of the water can knock you senseless.
Yosemite also boasts one of the biggest forests of sequoias in the world. These ancient trees stand tall, their tips pushing way up into the sky, like the California Redwoods.
There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, and some of them accept camping cars, trailers, motor homes and RV’s. If you plan on heading to Yosemite, it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation. In the summer months, the campgrounds fill up quick.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – The North Carolina and Tennessee Border
If you like the outdoors, Great Smoky has it all. There are more hiking trails than probably any other area in the US, as well as great fishing and camping. Compared to the parks out west, you’ll see lots more wildlife and plants. Also unlike the west, the weather is mild and there’s plenty of humidity to keep you from dehydrating.
Another reason to head for the Smokies is to experience real, authentic Appalachian mountain culture. There’s mountain music, storytellers, and all kinds of family fun.
Great Smoky is also a great place for RV drivers, because there are lots of auto tours. The park boasts roads where you can see great views, old historic buildings and vast forests as far as the eye can see.
Of course, this is just a basic introduction. You have to see these parks to believe them. These are definitely three places you want to hit at least sometime in your life.
See the States coast to coast in your home on wheels. Your family motor home lets you travel in style. Visit Bankston Motor Homes, http://www.bankstonmotorhomes.com/, to search for your next motor home or come by and visit with us at any of our five locations.
The holidays are a time for family and friends, a time to be surrounded by the ones you love.
But, this abundance of love also brings about an abundance of chaos: the holidays are a time for screaming babies, sloppy kisses on the lips from your Aunt Shirley, endless requests from three year old nephews for shoulder rides, and accidentally walking in on your Grandpa George sitting on the toilet, a spot he has been for over three hours. Because of this, when someone is asked what they are doing for the holidays, they often reply, “I’ll be with family. So, in other words, I’ll be drinking.”
Nonetheless, the holidays are a time that come but once a year, and leave before you even know it. After they are over – the presents have been unwrapped, the VCR you received from your grandmother has been exchanged for an IPOD, and your in-laws have finally decided, three weeks later, that they’ve worn out their welcome – you may find yourself desperately wanting to take a vacation.
For the person who loves to ski – who prefers to strap their children to the luggage rack of their SUV so that their new alpine skis can ride shotgun, where it’s nice and warm – a ski trip is an excellent vacation getaway. Even for those who don’t particularly enjoy skiing, sitting inside a ski lodge, drinking peppermint schnapps and hot cocoa, can be a welcomed release to the hustle and bustle of the past few months.
There are a variety of places to take a ski trip. Some people prefer to go close to home, others prefer to travel abroad, and still others simply enjoy skiing through the forest behind their house, getting lost in the woods and their imagination. While people can ski in all sorts of places, a few resorts routinely remain a snow bunny’s haven.
“How’s your Aspen?” may be a question asked any skier who routinely crashes, falling to the ground butt first. Known for its steep hills, there is rarely a better place to fall than Aspen, Colorado; falling here may even provide the rare opportunity to have celebrities laugh at you. While it can be a bit expensive, many skiers, particularly those who are well seasoned, find that the challenge of Aspen often warrants the price.
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the non-skiing life of Aspen is as magical as the slopes. With restaurants, five star lodging, and entertainment unlike most mountain towns, a ski trip to Aspen is really hard to surpass.
Whistler, British Columbia
Huge mountains make up the arguably best place to go for skiing in North America. With some of the biggest drops, this resort provides certain skiers with chills and others with thrills. Many skiers believe that they haven’t truly skied until they have conquered the slopes of Whistler. Soaring down the mountain with the wind in your face, and snow underfoot, the skiing at this location serves as the epitome of the sport.
The village surrounding the mountain adds to Whistler’s charm. Well known for offering after skiing food and drink, it contains everything from Chinese food to French food, from Mexican food to the food of the Greeks. Very much a melting pot of interests, it is almost impossible to find something here that you wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy.
Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France
“Wee wee,” is a term you will surely shout as you coast through the white powder of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. The location that hosted the first Winter Games in 1924, this resort has cemented itself in history, continually vying to be the most famous ski resort in the world. This resort includes the highest peak in the Alps and one of the longest runs in the world.
After skiing, there’s nothing quite like unwinding with a nice bottle of wine, a product for which the French are famous. With an atmosphere unlike many most experience, this ski trip offers more than just fresh powder: it also offers those not from France a fresh outlook on a different culture.
Jackson’s Hole, Wyoming
Wyoming isn’t exactly known as a hot spot when it comes to vacation; it’s not its heat but its snow that lends itself to our list. Possessing the mantra, “Like nothing you have seen before,” Jackson’s Hole is one of the most unique ski resorts in existence. From unparalleled back country to the potential for serious weather conditions, Jackson’s Hole is a ski resort that can be dangerous for the person who doesn’t take precautions. However, for those who ski safely, Jackson’s Hole will prove to be a whole lot of fun.
For anyone who grows tired of skiing, Jackson’s Hole offers experiences not likely to be found anywhere else. These include taking a sleigh ride through a National Elk Refuge, snowmobiling through Yellowstone National Park, and snowshoeing with the Wyoming wildlife.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
Where New England skiing was born, the Stowe Mountain Resort captures the appeal of a small, northeastern town. Over 200 years old, this town possesses dining, lodging, pubs, and skiing unlike any other. Once known as the “Ski capital of the East” this resort is nothing if not varied: from slopes intended to serve the brave to those intended to serve the novices, this resort is sure to appeal to skiers from all over the world.
Stowe Mountain Resort makes itself known as a resort laden with originality, stating that no two trails at this resort are the same. There are trails specifically designed for cross country skiing, trails designed for snowshoeing, and even night skiing on Saturdays, an experience that allows skiers to ski down Mount Mansfield over the snow, and under the stars.
So, there you have it. Some of the best places to ski in the world. These resorts are just what you need to give your post-holidays recovery a real lift.
About the Author
Jennifer Jordan is a senior editor for http://www.milleniumlimo.com/. Having been to five continents and over 40 countries, her travel column can be found at the Millenium limo website.