The breathtaking Red Rocks of Sedona are a group of several limestone rock formations located near the city of Sedona in Arizona, United States. The rocks are known for the incredibly vibrant red and orange glow they exhibit when illuminated at sunrise and sunset. A few of the better known formations include Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge natural arch, and the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole. Visitors to Sedona can enjoy endless hiking and mountain biking trails in and around the rocks. A Red Rock Pass must be acquired from the Sedona Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to use the trails.
The stunning Verdon Gorge is a river canyon in the southeastern section of France. The gorge is home to the Verdon River, known for its starling turquoise waters. The Verdon Gorge is a limestone canyon over 15 miles (25 kilometers) long and up to 2,297 feet (700 meters) deep. The canyon is a popular rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, and sight-seeing destination. Either side of Verdon Gorge is easily accessed, and a car ride around the rim is a lovely way to spend a day. The largest nearby towns with the most services and accommodations are Grasse and Aix-en-Provence, with several other smaller towns in the vicinity.
Famous Annapurna is a section of the Himalaya mountain range, located in central Nepal. The name “Annapurna” is a Sanskrit name meaning “Goddess of the Harvests”. The massive 22,970+ foot (7,000+ meter) peaks of the Annapurna section are some of the most dangerous to climb in the world. The south face of Annapurna I has the highest fatality rate of all the world’s 8,000 meter or higher peaks. Though the peaks themselves are off-limits to most people, the surrounding scenery can be access by undertaking one of many popular multi-day treks, including the impressive Annapurna Circuit trek, the Kaligandaki River Valley trek, and the Annapurna Sanctuary trek which reaches the Annapurna Base Camp. Annapurna is located within the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, and a permit is required to visit. Permits can be obtained in the Nepalese cities of Pokhara and Kathmandu. Bus service from Pokhara is available, as are many guided tours for trekking.
Yosemite is one of the most well known national parks in the world. With over 3.7 million visitors every year, this California park is an incredibly popular nature destination in the United States. Yosemite National Park is known for its awe-inspiring granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and over 800 miles (1,300 km) of hiking trails. Half Dome, a massive granite cliff jutting out of the earth, is one of the famous icons of the park, along with Cathedral Peak and El Capitan. Most of Yosemite’s iconic peaks, lakes, and waterfalls are located in the tourist-heavy 7 square mile (18 sq. km) area of Yosemite Valley, but the entire park actually encompasses an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 sq. km). Yosemite has the honor of being the first national park ever designated, thanks in large part to conservationists like John Muir and Galen Clark. These men and others worked hard to protect the park both for the impressive diversity of plants and animals that lived there, and also for the enjoyment of future generations. Today, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a favorite destination for hikers, rock climbers, campers, and nature lovers of all kinds.
The Grand Canyon is a spectacular destination beyond compare. Located within Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona in the United States, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide, and over 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) deep. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Wonder of the Natural World was carved by the Colorado River over an estimated 17 million years. Now, it tells two billion years of geological history through the layers exposed on its walls. Visitors to the Grand Canyon can enjoy the view from a popular viewpoint on the South Rim. Rafting the Colorado River, or descending the walls of the canyon by hiking or horseback-riding are also popular activities. Helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon are also available for tourist willing to splurge. The closest international airports to the Grand Canyon are in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona. From there, visitors can reach the park by car.
Landmannalaugar is a region in southern Iceland that is home to strange and beautiful geological formations. The multicolored rhyolite mountains in particular are breathtaking to behold. Visitors to this area enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and hot springs. Popular hikes include a trip up the peak of Bláhnúkur, a walk through the ice caves of Hrafntinnusker, or an extended multi-day hike along the Laugavegurinn trail. Tourists can visit Landmannalaugar between June and late September. Accommodations are sparse, consisting of only an austere mountain lodge that has room for 78 people total. Landmannalaugar can be accessed by car or by daily bus service from Iceland’s capital Reykjavik.
Torres del Paine is a national park located in south Patagonia, Chile. The park is known for its immense rock towers and peaks, part of the Andes mountain range. The name Torres del Paine means Towers of Blue (Paine is an indigenous name for the color blue). The most famous peaks in the park are Cordillera del Paine, a set of stark peaks, and the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Blue), a set of jagged, horn-like mountain tops. Also in the park are a glacier, a lake, and rivers. The most popular activity in the park are the multi day hikes, especially the Base Of Las Torres trek. Tourists can reach the national park via dailiy bus service from the city of Puerto Natales. Accommodations in the park consist of basic lodgings called “Refugios” and camping.
Nestled quietly within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, is the incredibly beautiful Moriane Lake. This glacially-fed lake is rather small, with a surface area of only 0.5 square kilometers (0.19 square miles). Lake Moriane is a striking blue-green color, caused by the presence of glacial rock flour that refracts sunlight. The alpine lake is located at an elevation of 1,885 meters (6,183 feet), and is surrounded by stark mountain peaks. Visitors to this picturesque lake can enjoy hiking in the area, and also check out the other amazing aspects of Banff National Park, such as the lovely Lake Louise.