It wasn’t very long ago that an ideal vacation was a visit to a foreign country, spending a week at a hotel or resort and sight-seeing without ever getting far from modern conveniences. Today’s tourists are bolder. They often book a stay in a remote location, taking advantage of concierge services that customize the vacation with the local experience.
It’s not necessary, however, to stray far from your door to have an amazing vacation that puts you back in touch with nature, nor do you need concierge services. With nearly four million square miles of land mass, a diverse population, variable climate and fifty-nine national parks, the United States makes a huge playground for the naturalist. Here are the top three nature vacations to take in the US.
The Most Visited National Park
It’s not the Grand Canyon; although that mighty crevice does come in second. The most visited National Park in the United States is the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.Says a spokesperson from DiamondRentals, “Lush forests undulate on a velvet landscape covering one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. An Appalachian adventure takes you deep in the heart of a grass roots culture that has survived from colonial times to modern day.”
To appreciate the culture, learn about the area’s history before scheduling your vacation. A good place to start is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Only two miles long and five miles wide, it has become the center for the arts and crafts that have been passed down from generation to generation and the gateway to the Appalachian community. Nowhere else in the South will you find a richer heritage of fine craftsmanshipthan Gatlinburg.
The Secret of Big Bend
Once considered a remote and hostile area accessible only by dirt trails, Big Bend has become the most visited park in Texas. The large reserve, encompassing a generous portion of the Chihuahua Desert, is a complex system of twisted geologic formations, fossil records of turtles, giant crocodiles and a variety of dinosaurs; including the discovery of a flying reptile. Its ecology is as diverse as the landscape. The area contains 450 species of birds, 75 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles and 11 species of amphibians.
Visiting options include a choice of three different campgrounds, lodges and local outfitters.Recreational activities include rugged country hikes, bird watching, mountain biking, horseback riding and half day floats by canoe, raft or kayak.
The Best of Two Worlds
You don’t have to sacrifice modern amenities to say hello to nature. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is a bustling industrial city serving the Northwest with unique bistros, elegant restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. It strikes up the party note with festivals, fairs and concerts. Located only forty miles from Spokane, Washington, transportation is a short hop by plane from Chicago or the Canadian border.
The city of 44,000 inhabitants is surrounded by dense forests, a tangle of lakes, and a number of campgrounds, making it perfect for water play, day visits or sticking around to spend a few days with nature. With a colorful history dating back to fur traders and miners, it’s a true jumping off point for emerging yourself in the Northwest.
Regardless of where you decide to venture off, getting back in touch with nature is always a good idea to revitalize your sense of adventure, physical health and mental well being.
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