National Park Lodges To Book Right Now

With the complicated threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, now is the best time to explore the great outdoors of the United States. We are lucky to have a robust National Park System that is extensive and offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences! Whether you are a pro at camping or much prefer “glamping”, America’s national parks have the accommodations to suit your fancy. What better way to spend a priceless summer vacation with the family than to be surrounded by America’s most majestic landscapes? Here are some of the most impressive lodges to visit this summer to make those picture-perfect memories.

Oasis at Death Valley

Death Valley National Park in California spans more than 3.4 million acres and boasts the hottest temperatures on record! This national park is a place of extremes. Along with being the hottest, it is the driest and the lowest of all of America’s national parks. If you are looking for an extreme challenge, this is the place to go. Although you may be picturing a dead desert, Death Valley is actually home to striking wildlife. If you have expensive taste, you can stay at the extravagant Four Diamond Inn. Enjoy golfing, horseback riding, or off-roading adventures through this remarkable national park.

Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa

Deep in the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee you’ll find America’s most visited national park. The Great Smoky National Park is a sight to behold with gorgeous and lively spruce-fir forests, soaring mountains, mystical trails, and an impressive array of wildlife. You will get the most Instagram-worthy pictures at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa. The resort boasts luxury rooms with private balconies where you can enjoy breakfast to the sound of nature all around. There are plenty of family-friendly activities to participate in such as ziplining, golfing, or splashing around at their indoor waterpark. Do not miss this gem of a national park.

Sheldon Chalet

If money is no object for you, make the memory of a lifetime at the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The Sheldon Chalet will give you an unforgettable adventure atop a private glacier. It is such an exclusive and remote location that you can only fly in by helicopter. You will experience the jaw-dropping views of the Alaska Range, witness the aurora borealis, and discover ice caverns, enjoy a glacier picnic and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

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Fun Facts About The Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains are an American landmark, but many Americans probably couldn’t name one fact about them. They are such an iconic part of the United States, and at almost

2,000 miles long, cut through 18 states as well as parts of Canada! Many people don’t realize that the Appalachian Mountains are actually made up of many other well-known mountain ranges. They span from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the South, to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee, all the way up to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. These smaller mountain ranges are called subranges, and together they make up the full mountain system that is the “Appalachians”.

The Appalachian Mountains are an integral part of American history and have been around since its birth. It’s thought that the first mountains cropped up as early as a billion years ago, so it’s safe to say that the Appalachians had no human interaction for quite some time. Sadly, some of its beautiful peaks have been destroyed due to coal mining. The Appalachians are home to an abundance of coal reserves, and while miners in earlier times would drill into the mountains to retrieve the coal, mining companies are now removing the tops of the mountains. This violent process destroys forests and causes pollution. Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency has taken a stand against this practice.

Hiking has always been a popular pastime in the United States, and the Appalachian Mountains are home to one of the most popular trails in the world: The Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail was completed in 1937, and since then, hikers have flocked to it. It attracts more than 3 million people per year, although a very small percentage of that number attempt to traverse the entire trail, which is 2,193 miles. One of the reasons why so many people enjoy visiting the Appalachian Mountains is its diverse ecosystem. The mountains are blanketed in beautiful wildflowers and 140 different tree species. Hikers can also hope to see wildlife such as deer, moose, elk, foxes, wild boars, and black bears. Birdwatchers can look to the skies to search for eagles, falcons, songbirds, and much more. It’s no wonder why people from all over the world seek out the Appalachian Mountains for their rich history and breathtaking beauty.

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Smart Products For The Outdoors

If you spent time hiking and camping in nature as a kid, you might be craving a return to the simplicity of time outdoors. Spending time in nature is a great way to unwind and reduce the stress in your life, and you can embrace the sun and fun you had when you were younger.

Even if you’re not that far removed from your childhood, it’s still good to reconnect with the wilderness before you lose the memory of it. In either case, using smart outdoor products makes outdoor activities all the sweeter.

A global pandemic only exacerbated an already growing desire to get back outdoors and away from a 24/7 digital world. Once lockdowns were lifted in many places, citizens flocked to parks and trails like never before. Part of it was trying to get past the claustrophobia of being cooped up in tight spaces for so long. Another part of it was just how few options there were.

Even as the world reopened, getting out into nature appealed to many given how social distancing inherently came with the activity. Still, for going back in time, so to speak, to spend time in nature, modern technology has created some wonderful smart products for the outdoors.

New styles of sunglasses do the job they’re supposed to do of protecting the wearer’s vision from harsh sunlight. However, they can also do it in incredible style, making wearers always fashionable. What’s more, they can even be made out of recycled products so that they’re sustainable and help preserve the Earth everyone is trying to savor and enjoy.

Many new smart outdoors products maintain the theme of protecting the world’s resources while also helping people honor and enjoy nature. From sustainably made camping chairs to portable water faucets that minimize liquid loss, there are many great camping tools you can use, whether you camp out of the back of your SUV or backpack deep into the woods.

You can even use smart outdoor products to save money as well as the world. Many are designed with serious durability in mind. You won’t have to replace them anytime soon. So, expect years of enjoyment and functionality out of certain products, so long as you take good care of them along the way.

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A Camping Checklist for 2021

Camping is ideal for those who love going out for adventures. It offers ample time for friends and family to bond. Additionally, camping can be a way to refresh one’s mind as one gets away from work and other daily activities. While going camping, ensure that comfort comes first. For those planning to go camping in 2021, here are some items to carry along.

Carry Warm Clothing and Blanket

Carry warm clothing and blankets when out camping since most time will be spent at night outside. In many places, the nights tend to become very cold. Failure to have warm clothing exposes your body to the elements, which can affect your health. Additionally, everyone should cover themselves with heavy blankets while they are sleeping.

Have a Proper Camp Kitchen

Eating together is always one of the best experiences while camping. Being out in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious meal. Those planning for camping should ensure they have a well-equipped camp kitchen to effectively prepare adequate meals. Carry a camping stove for cooking and ensure that you have enough fuel. You also want to have enough utensils if eating foods that require them. Also, don’t forget water as it will be needed while cooking and cleaning the utensils to maintain good hygiene.

Carry Appropriate Hiking Boots

Those planning for camping need to have good hiking boots. Hiking boots are integral camping gear that will allow you to travel long distances when hiking or exploring the area you’re camping in. Hiking boots are meant to not only keep your feet comfortable on rougher terrain but should also last long so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear.

Have a Fully Equipped First Aid Kit

Camping has been associated with a lot of accidents resulting in injuries. Ensure that there is a first aid kit available whenever it’s time to go camping. First aid kits can be used when minor accidents happen, ensuring that things don’t get worse by taking proper care of your injuries. If an injury occurs that is outside of the means of a first aid kit, be sure to seek out the appropriate facilities.

It’s important to be properly prepared when camping in order to enjoy your trip. However, it will be difficult to enjoy camping when essential items are missing. Therefore, everyone planning to go comping should create a list of what they need to carry with them.

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4 Great Cameras For Your Next Hiking Trip

Whether you have just started hiking or are looking to buy your first hiking camera, there are four great options on the market today: The Sony RX100 IV, Canon G7 X Mark II, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 (TZ80), and Nikon COOLPIX P900. They all vary in price range from $650-$1200, but each has its unique features, making them worth checking out.

Sony RX100 IV ($1298)

The Sony RX100 IV is a unique camera because it has interchangeable lenses and an electronic viewfinder. It’s also tiny and easy to carry around while still offering 4K video. This version of the camera is best for those that want a lightweight photographic solution without sacrificing features or picture quality. It’s also got an outstanding low-light performance, so you don’t have to worry about using it at night or in dark conditions. Plus, this camera is water-resistant!

Canon G7 X Mark II ($899)

The Canon G7 X Mark II is a small camera with a 1-inch sensor, which is pretty tiny. It’s great for hikers that want a lightweight camera without sacrificing too much image quality. This camera also has a 180 degree swiveling LCD screen, so you can easily take shots from different angles, and it is really easy to carry around!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 (TZ80) ($650)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 is super small and lightweight, which makes it great for hiking. It also has an all-weather exterior, so if you’re leaving on a camping trip for a rainy area, then this camera is a good option for you. While the 4k video and photos are great, the camera does have a smaller sensor which means fewer megapixels (16.6megapixel).

Nikon COOLPIX P900 ($1200)

The Nikon COOLPIX P900 is one of the most expensive hikers’ choices, but it offers some cool features. It has a ridiculous 51x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent of a 26500mm lens), making it great for wildlife and nature photographers or people who like to take photos of far-off things. The P900 also has two 1/2-inch sensors offering 2560 x 1920 resolution images.

You really can’t go wrong with any of the four cameras mentioned in this article. They each have unique features and characteristics that set them apart, but they all offer excellent image quality for your hiking photos.

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New York’s Best Camping Spots

The state of New York is one of the most popular tourist states in America, mainly because of the city of New York, but many people don’t realize that the state also has many fantastic camping spots for those who appreciate quiet time in nature. There is also the option of various outdoor activities for anyone who enjoys tapping into their adventurous side. The state of New York has a total of 179 state parks, making the state an excellent choice for a weekend family camping trip. Here you will find some of the best camping spots New York State has to offer.

Hither Hills State Park

Hither Hills State Park is located in Montauk, NY, and is a 1,755-acre campground with 176 oceanfront campsites. This campground offers picnic areas, a playground, and various sporting activities. There is year-round and nighttime fishing available for anglers.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park is located in Watkins Glen, NY, and offers 19 different waterfalls on-site for exploration. The park offers 288 campsites with amenities such as hot showers, playing fields, an Olympic-sized pool and so much more. There are also wineries nearby as well as a wine trail.

Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is New York’s most versatile park and is commonly referred to as the ‘Grand Canyon of the East’. Camping is available all year round with 260 campsites and 80 winterized cabins available for rent. This park is also well known for offering hot air balloon rides and 66 miles of hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails.

Fish Creek Pond Campground

Fish Creek Pond Campground is located in Upstate New York in the northern part of Adirondack Park and is considered to be the most beautiful of the Adirondack campgrounds. Most of the 355 campsites available offer direct lake access, and can accommodate up to 40 ft RV’s as well as tents.

New York State offers so much variety within the camping community, assuring that there’s something for everyone. Whether you and your family are looking for adventure and sporting competition or relaxation, you’re sure to find the perfect campgrounds to suit all of your needs.

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5 Lesser-Known Vacation Spots in California

California vacations generally consist of Disneyland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the beaches, surf, and sand – and, typically large crowds. Here are five incredible places in California most people never see.

  1. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Hiking on an active volcano? Lassen Peak is a wonderful spot for cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking at other times. The most interesting section of the park is Bumpass Hell. Wooden walks take you past bubbling mud pots and colorful hot springs. Fishing, boating, and most water sports are available at Lake Almanor a few miles away.

  1. Mono Lake

Close to Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake is straight out of a sci-fi movie. This weirdly beautiful lake is one of the oldest in the world, a salt-water lake with no outlets, where almost nothing lives in the lake except algae and brine shrimp. Boating and swimming are allowed. The alien landscape is delightfully photogenic. Tufa towers, formed from limestone, stand near the south bank where springs enter the lake. During the spring and autumn migration periods, flocks of birds descend on the lake to feed on brine shrimp.

  1. Point Arena Lighthouse

A scenic drive up the coast from San Francisco, Point Arena offers incredible views of the ocean and coastline. Great for hiking, exploring, and photography. In the nearby town you can arrange for whale sighting tours. Check out the food and fun at Point Arena pier. Don’t miss Bowling Ball Beach and Glass Beach.

  1. Bodie State Historic Park

Between the Nevada border and Yosemite lies the ghost town of Bodie, thirteen miles down a dusty road The town is worth the trip. Over 100 buildings still stand. The state has maintained the buildings in the same dilapidated state they were in when the town was turned into a park in 1962. Gold was discovered there in 1959. In 1880 it had a population of 10,000 with 65 saloons in town.

  1. Sacramento

California’s capital has lots to offer. The state history museum, a railroad museum, and an aerospace museum are all both fascinating and fun. Check out the animals at the Sacramento zoo and tours of the capitol building. The city is noted for its home grown food and excellent restaurants.

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The Best Lodges in U.S. National Parks

Taking a trip to any one of the U.S. National Parks is always a memorable experience. The grandeur of the landscape, variety of trees, mountains, and lakes, and the expanse of the night sky will leave visitors in awe. One of the best ways to vacation in a National Park is to stay in a lodge.

Ahwahnee Lodge

For views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park, Ahwahnee Lodge is the place to be. Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, this multi-story lodge has been visited by many famous leaders over the years. Yosemite is a beautiful park with numerous waterfalls and hiking trails as well as a large backcountry area. At the lodge visitors can enjoy dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a heated swimming pool, lounge and bar, WiFi, and views of the waterfalls along with comfortable rooms.

Ross Lake Resort

Ross Lake Resort in North Cascades National Park is a bit unique as there is no direct road access to the resort. Twelve cabins on the water offer peace and quiet away from the busyness of life. Visitors hike 3.5 miles to get to the cabins, or they hike 1 mile and then ride the ferry when it is operating. Solitude can be found here as campers view the beauty of the Northwest.

The Cabin at Coney Island

Those who want an island and a cabin to themselves can book a place at New River Gorge National Park. It only takes two minutes to paddle a canoe or kayak over to the seven-acre island. Located near Glen Jean, West Virginia, it is the newest National Park.

The Oasis

One of the larger National Parks is Death Valley, and staying at the Oasis at Death Valley will certainly be a pleasure. This National Park has a desert beauty all its own with views at Zabriskie Point, the vast salt flats at Badwater Basin, and Dante’s View. This National Park is hot in summer, so the best time to visit is Winter and early Spring, especially during a wildflower superbloom.

Many Glacier Hotel

Finally, Glacier National Park boasts the Many Glacier Hotel. The grand lobby is four stories tall with 200 rooms for guests. Visitors enjoy views of Swiftcurrent Lake and what is called “the American Alps” during their remote stay in the Rockies.

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Men’s Hiking Pants for All Outdoorsmen

Just like a great pair of hiking boots, every hiker needs a great set of pants that are up for the task and durable enough to stand up and perform under any conditions. The best hiking pants are not only durable, but comfortable. Most outdoor brands make some pretty epic pants, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to reap the benefits. Below are some of the best men’s hiking pants every outdoorsman will love under $250. 

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants

If ultra-soft, ultra-lightweight pants are must haves for your adventures, these pants need to be on your radar. The Gamma LT pants are stretchy but durable and even come with an adjustable webbing belt to ensure a perfect fit. Don’t let the soft, comfortable fabric fool you. These pants come with built-in abrasion resistance that will withstand most obstacles that come your way. 

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Pants

It’s rare to find cotton pants that can stand up to the rigors of outdoor life, especially from a premium brand. The Vidda Pro Ventilated Pants are 35% cotton which makes them more durable than most of its competitors, allowing you to traipse through tougher environments without having to worry. Need an extra layer of protection? Coat these pants with Fjallraven’s beeswax to make them even more waterproof. 

Prana Stretch Zion Pants

Most outdoor pants tend to scream that they are, in fact, meant to be used outdoors. If you have a busy day ahead of you before you can make it to the trails, you don’t have to worry about changing. The Prana Stretch Zion Pants embody a simple design aesthetic that makes them perfect for work, hiking, dinner, and everything in between without looking like you just walked out of the forest. Don’t worry, they are also wrinkle-resistant, abrasion-resistant, quick-drying, and even come with sun protection. 

Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

The Kuhl brand is no stranger to making popular and long-lasting hiking apparel. The Renegade Convertible Pants are one among many in their line that will provide years of use. The soft, cotton-like fabric makes hiking comfortable and the fabric provides just enough stretch to give you all-day comfort, even on the longest hikes. Besides, wouldn’t you want pants that can also turn into shorts? Long hikes usually have drastic changes in temperature depending on the time of day, so you’ll need pants that can cope. 

REI Co-Op Activator 3.0 Pants

Last, but certainly not least are the Co-Op Activator Pants. This is the third generation of these popular pants, and each new iteration just seems to get even better. These pants have maximum moisture-wicking abilities, are water-repellent, and have lots of stretch. Co-Op Activator Pants are designed to be more flexible, especially around the knees to give you more mobility on trails. When the trails start getting rougher and dirtier you can always use the convenient drawcords at the cuffs to keep debris out of your shoes. 

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Top Three National Parks in the United States

National parks have earned a place in our hearts. They are not only a history lesson but also a geographical one. They give us a timeline of the earth through erosion, glacier formation, and volcanic activity. They are also reminders of the natural beauty of the United States. They give us the opportunity to connect with nature and unplug from the world. It’s amazing the serenity one feels when hiking or camping in one of these parks. There are 419 national parks (units) that are managed by the National Park Service. These national parks include historic monuments, battlefields, burial sites and more. Visiting one of these parks should be on your bucket list. Here are the top three national parks in the United States. 

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – This park is 277 river miles long and 18 miles wide. Established in 1919, the Grand Canyon has won over crowds with its history, colors, and geology. There are several areas to visit during your trip, such as Lipan Point, Mather Point and Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower. What is amazing is that the Grand Canyon was carved from the Colorado River. We can see the erosion and volcanism that made up the almost-rigid sedimentary rocks and their gorgeous colors. There are nearly 40 layers of rock in the Grand Canyon wall. Don’t forget to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk! Not for the faint of heart, this horseshoe-shaped glass bridge expends 70 feet over the rim of the Grand Canyon, providing a view of 4,000 feet down to the canyon floor. 

Yosemite National Park (California) – Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite spans nearly 1,200 miles and offers unparalleled beauty with its ancient sequoias, granite cliffs, and breath-taking vistas to name a few. The park was first protected in 1864 but became an official park in 1890 by an act of congress. Yosemite has a number of places to explore, including the Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, and Hetch Hetchy. Each one features unique geographical features (e.g. rock formations and waterfalls) that enhance your outdoor activity, whether it’s hiking or rock climbing. If you are not into camping, there are several types of lodging in the park from bed and breakfasts to cabins. 

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana & Idaho) — This massive park spans over 3,400 miles with the majority in the wilderness. Home to Old Faithful geyser, the park is an amazing display of colors. The Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin features blues, yellows, greens, oranges, and browns and is a large as a football field and deeper than a 10-story building. The boardwalk gives you the best views of the many thermal features in the park. Hiking is also big at Yellowstone. When hiking the Mount Washburn Trail, you’ll see a variety of greens from the valleys below. You’ll get an even more spectacular view at the 10,243-foot summit. Also, Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States, established in 1872 and commemorated by Ansel Adams photographs. 

Originally published at on January 9, 2020.

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