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.
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.
Located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, the Ansel Adams Wilderness is a wilderness area encompassing 937 square kilometers (362 square miles or 231,533 acres). Within the Ansel Adams Wilderness are glaciated mountains including Mount Ritter, Banner Peak, and the Minarets, all of which are part of the Ritter Range. The wilderness area is also home to many lakes, including Shadow Lake, Thousand Island Lake, Lake Ediza, and Garnet Lake. A popular feature located in the Ansel Adams Wilderness is Devils Postpile National Monument, an unusually symmetrical formation of columnar basalt. Visitors to the wilderness area can enjoy 562 kilometers (349 miles) of hiking trails, opportunities for technical rock climbing on the Minarets, and cross-country skiing at Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain in the winter.
The Dolomites are a section of the Alps mountain range in Italy. Besides the spectacular views, visitors to the Dolomites can enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice skating and sledding in the winter months, and hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, base jumping, paragliding and hang-gliding in the summer. The Dolomites were recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in August, 2009. Marmolada, the Dolomites’ largest peak, stands 3,344 meters (10,972 feet) tall. The Dolomites span three Northeastern Italian provinces: Belluno, Bolzano-Bozen and Trento. Accommodation can be found in any of the many cities and villages in the area.
Skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and wildlife lovers should not miss this incredible Canadian destination: Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. This glacial lake is located near the Trans-Canada Highway and the tiny town of Lake Louise. The Eastern shore of the lake is home to the large luxury resort hotel Chateau Lake Louise. Accommodation for the budget-minded traveler can be found in Lake Louise town only 3km (2 miles) away. Other activities to be enjoyed at the lake and surrounding area include mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, dog sledding, snowshoeing and more.
Located on the border between the state of Paraná in Brazil and the province of Misiones in Argentina, you will find the stunning Iguazu Falls dividing the upper and lower parts of the Iguazu River. These massive falls, four times the width of Niagara Falls, moved First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to famously exclaim “Poor Niagara!” Iguazu Falls is made up of 275 individual falls, the tallest of which is 82 meters (269 ft) high. The most popular single waterfall among tourists is the impressive 82 meters (269 ft) tall, 700 meters (2,297 ft) long Devil’s Throat (or Gargantua del Diablo). The falls can be accessed from the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguaçu or the Argentine town of Puerto Iguazú. There are many trails and walkways around the falls, and the more adventurous types can enjoy rock climbing and water sports.