TR Robertson – As the new year begins and you begin to think about travel plans for this year, consider stopping in some of these amazing places located throughout the United States. Some of the spots are very unusual, some are unbelievable natural wonders, some are a bit difficult to get to and some you can drive or walk to easily. The following list also contains a brief description of places you may not have ever heard of or ever considered putting on your travel list.
Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona – An American Earth system science research facility teaching about the Earth, its living systems and its place in the universe. The Biosphere 2 sits on a 40 acre science campus and is a 3.14 acre structure making it the biggest closed ecological system ever created. It was constructed between 1987-1991 and open to the public.
Garden of the Gods close to Colorado Springs, Colorado – A public park known for incredible geologic formations formed millions of years ago. The area is popular for hiking (21 miles of trails), rock climbing, road & mountain biking and horseback riding. Numerous tours are available and access to the areas require approval by rangers.
Fly Geyser in Washoe County Nevada, close to Gerlach, Nevada – A small geothermal geyser located on private land, the Fly Ranch. The geyser is 5 feet high and 12 feet wide. It is a man-made geyser resulting from water well drilling in 1916.
Tamanawas Falls close to Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon – To get to this water fall you will need to hike in 3.4 miles. The Falls flows over a 110 ft. lava cliff located at the eastern base of Mt. Hood. Cold Creek supplies the water for the falls.
Roaring Fork Motor Trail not far from Gatlinburg, Tennessee – The Trail begins at The Place of a Thousand Drips and ends at Rainbow Falls Trail. You can take a 3-hour 31 minute hike on the 6.7 mile trail, or you can drive the route. The road is a narrow, winding road open in the spring, summer and fall. Along the way you will see the spectacular scenery and waterfalls of the Smokey Mountains.
Chiricahua National Monument close to Wilcox, Arizona – The 12,025-acre National Monument is filled with hoodoos and balancing rocks. Hoodoos are tall shafts of rock that have taken on unusual formations and said to contain spirits. The hoodoos and balancing rocks have been formed from wave action when the area was covered with water, erosion, wind, freezing then thawing temperatures. The park was created in 1924 and is a Historic Designed Landscape.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Sea & Ice Caves located in Bayfield County Wisconsin – The islands and lakeshore are located in and around Lake Superior. The large ice and sea cave can be accessed by cruises on the lake or boating or kayaking to the caves. The best caves are located along Devils Island and Sand Island and along the western boundary lakeshore of Lake Superior.
Blue Lakes close to San Juan Mountain, Colorado – Three scenic glacial basin lakes with panoramic views, a 7-hour drive from Denver. They are in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness of the Uncompahgre National Forest. From Ridgeway, Colorado they are a five-hour, 8.7-mile hike.
The International Car Forest of the Last Church outside of Goldfield, Nevada – Built by Mark Rippie, Chad Sort and Zak Sargent, this open-air unusual gallery of cars, trucks and vans has 40 buried or balancing vehicles painted and graffitied in the display. Just off of Highway 95, the display was begun in 2010. The Last Church reference is from Mark Rippie to signify non-recognition of organized religions.
Fort Jefferson in Garden Key, Florida – Located 68 miles west of Key West, this is a massive unfinished coastal fortress built in 1847. It is also the largest brick masonry structure in the United States, using over 16 million bricks to build. The fortress was used as a prison during the Civil War. The fortress is also believed to be haunted.
Ghost Town of Bodie, California – located 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, Calif. At an elevation of 8,379 feet. The town was a boom town in 1876 due to the gold rush, at one time with a population of 10,000. By 1915, the town was in decline with the last mine shutting down in 1947. The town was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and over 200,000 people visit the town each year. This Ghost Town is also considered haunted.
Blue Hole of Morgantown, West Virginia – This popular swimming hole reaches depths of 140 feet and is at the intersection of Cheat River and Big Sandy Creek.
Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska – This 13.6-mile-long glacier is 12 miles outside of Juneau and is part of the Tongass National Forest. The glacier has retreated almost 2 miles since 1929. It is a popular destination for cruise ship passengers. In a report issued this week, Most glaciers will disappear by 2100 unless drastic changes occur.
Mildred B. Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista, Arkansas – This chapel, built to celebrate the life of the wife of John A. Cooper. Construction began in 1988 and opened in 1991. The style is gothic architecture built by E. Fay Jones, architect. Cooper also said it was built to celebrate God and his creations. It is a popular tourist attraction and a popular wedding chapel.
Hanging Lake outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado – This National Nature Landmark was formed by a geologic fault and is a travertine lake that is waterfall fed. A steep trail leads to the lake and is a 1.2-mile hike that climbs 1,000 feet.
Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa – This religious shrine is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. Built in 1946, there are 9 grottos depicting scenes of the life of Jesus and believed to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils and shells in one place. The grotto has an estimated value of $4.3 million.
Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon’s high desert – Known for their sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt comprising 641 acres. The site is ideal for rock climbing and considered the birthplace of American sport climbing. It is also the scene of traditional climbing, multi-pitch climbing and bouldering.
Neptune Memorial Reef outside of Key Biscayne, Florida – This underwater columbarium (storage of funerary urns) is part of the Atlantic Reef Project and is the largest man-made artificial reef. The area is currently a ½ acre space with a plan to expand to 16 acres. It is 3.25 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne.
Plaza Blanca outside of Abiquiu, New Mexico – This area is comprised of massive bright white cliff with unusual formations. It is part of the grounds of the Islamic Education Center of Dar Al Islam open to the public with many hiking trails.
Byodo – In Temple in the Ko’olau Mountains of Hawai’i – This non-denominational Buddhist Temple is in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was dedicated in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants arriving in Hawai’i. The temple is a replica of the Byodin Temple of Uji in Kyoto, Japan.
Just a few of the many incredible places to add to your travel destinations.