Shermanstravel Blog

Road Trip

Yellowstone National Park - stargazing - by National Park Service-Neal Herbert - 620

Remember when it seemed like you could reach up and touch the Milky Way, the ribbon of stars that make up our galaxy? Thanks to light pollution, it’s becoming harder and harder to see — unless you get yourself out to dark and remote locales. Here are seven stargazing sites, all recognized by the International Dark Sky Association for their inky-black nights, that offer stellar views of the heavens above.

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Grand Canyon - Tom Bricker

The Grand Circle — originally a loop to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon national parks — covers much of northern Arizona and southern Utah as well as portions of Colorado, New Mexico, and a sliver of Nevada. Unless you have weeks to explore the area and a hefty travel budget, you can’t even begin to see it all. So how do you tackle it on a budget?

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Flickr Coast Guard News2

National wildlife refuges — protected lands managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service — offer many of the same recreational opportunities as national parks at a fraction of the cost. Some are even free, unless you plan to hunt, fish, or camp. We love these (mostly) gratis activities for experiencing the wilderness in a whole new way:

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phantom ranch - grand canyon NPS - michael quinn - 620

Why spend a fortune for just a few hours at a fabricated haunted house when you can explore truly spooky sites for a whole day in the wild? Some of the most haunted sites in America are part of the National Park system, with varied histories from Civil War bloodshed to tragic love stories. Here are seven with spectacularly spooky reputations:

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Exterior

Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?

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Red Mountain Resort Utah

They say idleness is the mother of all vices – so it’s a good thing we had so much to keep us busy during a recent jaunt through rural southern Utah. Heading for St. George, a small, oft-overlooked town in the state’s bottom-left quarter that’s just under two hours from Vegas, we packed in a full three days of hiking, kayaking, outdoor yoga, and even a little art gallery browsing. And the best part: We even had time left over for some poolside lounging. Here’s how you can do it, too:

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So you unleashed your inner Ansel Adams this summer and now have albums of hundreds of vacation photos. Sharing them with friends and family on Facebook is great — but wouldn’t winning cameras, lenses, vacations, and cash be even better? Many photo contests are open to amateurs shooters, some with very specific themes and some more general. Check out these five opportunities to score big with your best vacation photos.

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Hot Air Balloon Festival (Bill Russ - VisitNC.com)

North Carolina might just possibly be at its best as summer gives way to fall. In the mountains, the leaves turn brilliant colors, and the days are still warm enough for beachcombing at the coast. But that’s just the beginning. Here are four reasons why October just might be the best month to visit the Tar Heel State.

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grand teton national park - oxbow bend - D. Lehle-NPS - 620

If you want to catch our nation’s deciduous trees taking on a vibrant palette of yellows, reds, and oranges, now’s the time to plan a road trip. Naturally, some of the best drives for fall foliage wind through our beautiful national parks. Here are five trails for unbeatable views.

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autumn - pixabay - 620Blazing red and orange leaves are some of the best reasons to travel in fall, and this year we wanted to find some unexpected foliage spots. So, of course, we turned to Instagram. After all, what other platform draws users who love to take beautiful photographs in the most picturesque parts of the world? We tapped into a few avid photographers’ feeds to bring you seven places to view vibrant foliage. Get ready to charge up your smartphone and hit the road…

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ThousandIslands

The Thousand Islands, located on the U.S.-Canada border, is actually a misnomer. There are, in fact, 1,864 islands floating like dots on the Saint Lawrence River. (To qualify, as an island, all must be above sea level, have a certain size, and must have at least two trees). People visit the Thousand Islands for many reasons: to see the many castles, marvel at the bird species, go boating, and to appreciate Ontario’s spectacular nature scene while swirling a glass of wine or two at sunset.

Here are some ways to visit the area on a budget:

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iStock/Lake Tahoe in AutumnReady to drive? America in fall is marvel: cooler weather and colorful foliage spread across the northeast; comfortably sunny days are the norm from Vegas to Miami; and there’s perfect hiking weather in the west. Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted dozens of destinations that are perfect for a road trip, whether you’re looking to discover a new beach in Florida, visit a winery in upstate New York, sail on Lake Tahoe, or delve into an American classic — the Grand Canyon. Here are some ideas that we hope will inspire you — and persuade you to fill up the tank and go.

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ferris_wheel_Midway_sunset - arizona state fair - 620

It’s fair time! As we mourn the end of summer, the nation’s great state fairs give us something to look forward to in the fall. And we suggest getting out your calendars, because some of the best fairs are either under way right now or coming up soon. Here are the eight we feel deserve blue ribbons.

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adirondackslakegeorgeAs the largest state-run nature reserve in the continental United States, Adirondack Park offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities, from hiking and fishing in the summer months, to wintertime skiing. Even if you find yourself near one of the park’s most popular resorts, Gore Mountain, outside of prime ski season, you’ll find plenty of other attractions to keep you busy. Here’s a sampling…  Read more

bigcedarlodge

The Ozark mountain range is so vast that it not only covers the southern half of Missouri, it also extends to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. And even though it’s referred to as mountains, the area is actually a plateau. Covering 47,000 square miles, the rugged Ozarks are filled with forests, and hiking trails, and beautiful views. Here are some ideas for exploring:

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