Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for national parks

New Zealand’s Volcanic Wonderland

By Linda Tancs

Located in the Central North Island region, Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park. Established in the late 1800s, it’s recognized as much for its volcanic landscape as for its religious and cultural heritage. At the heart of the park are its three active volcano mountains—Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu—part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. To the Maori people who have inhabited the land for centuries, it’s a sacred place. The park’s natural and cultural attributes have earned it two World Heritage designations. Ruapehu has two of the largest ski fields in the country, catering to everyone from beginner to advanced, making it a perfect destination for this winter season. If summertime is more to your liking, don’t fret. Scenic chairlift rides operate on Whakapapa (the larger of the two fields) throughout most of the year offering spectacular views over the region.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Other Brazilian Rainforest

By Linda Tancs

Although nearly adjacent to the Amazon, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) is the lesser-known cousin. One of the five most diverse hotspots in the world, this tropical and subtropical rainforest once stretched along the Atlantic Coast of Brazil for a whopping 476,000 square miles. Today, its footprint is much smaller (at around 38,600 square miles) due to centuries of deforestation for timber, sugar cane, coffee, cattle ranching and urban sprawl. In fact, two of the world’s largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, were both built over it. A small percentage of the land is protected, most notably in Chapada Diamantina National Park, where one of the country’s highest waterfalls (Cachoeira da Fumaca) is found. It’s so high that the water vaporizes before it hits the ground, earning it the name “Smoke Waterfall.”

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Alpine Glory Near Seattle

By Linda Tancs

The jagged peaks of Washington State’s North Cascades National Park are crowned by glaciers—more than 300, the most of any national park outside Alaska. The park’s ecosystem is diverse, from the temperate rainforest of the west side to the dry ponderosa pines of the east. Another of its charms is the concentration of old-growth western red cedar trees, some estimated to be over 1,000 years old. You can find them on hikes like the one to Big Beaver Trail, which will take you through a long, glacier-carved valley. During the summer months you’ll find a variety of companies offering tours of the area, including ranger-led tours. The park is located less than three hours from Seattle.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Vertical Splendor in Colorado

By Linda Tancs

Colorado’s Black Canyon National Park is divided by the canyon into a North Rim and South Rim. Formidable in scope, only the rims (not the gorge) show evidence of human occupation since written history began. The more primitive side is North Rim, offering sweeping views of Black Canyon. You’ll get equally magnificent views of the canyon from South Rim, especially at Gunnison Point, one of 12 overlooks. It’s located near the Visitor Center, where three hiking trails are also accessible. One of the most astounding formations visible from many of the overlooks is Painted Wall, the highest cliff in Colorado. From river to rim it stands at 2,250 feet. That’s just a few hundred feet less than Burj Khalifa in Dubai, one of the tallest buildings in the world at 2,717 feet. The rims are not connected. Both rim drives have one access point from the highway; driving from one rim to the other involves driving along non-park roads and can take over two hours.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Canada’s Rainforest Islands

By Linda Tancs

Haida Gwaii is pristine, rugged and remote, a lush island chain off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Its southernmost reaches are preserved as Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. Haida refers to the Indigenous who have inhabited the area for thousands of years and continue to do so today. You’ll find their weathered totems, ancient villages and partially carved canoes throughout the lush rainforest islands of Gwaii Haanas. The term means “islands of beauty” in the Haida language. It’s been little more than a decade since the marine conservation area was established, a place where orcas pass through and humpback whales feed, often in vast pods numbering in the hundreds. Enjoy a wildlife adventure tour with one of the many operators offering excursions ranging from flight seeing and day trips by motor boat to longer sea kayak and sailing expeditions.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Dinosaur Trees in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Just a couple of hours northwest of Sydney is Wollemi National Park, a national park and wilderness area in Australia. Bushwalking is a popular activity thanks to the pristine, rugged wilderness met with pagoda rock formations, sandstone escarpments and deep gorges, among other things. In fact, one of the most fascinating discoveries of all time, the last surviving grove of Wollemi pine, occurred in 1994 during a bushwalking expedition in the deep gorges. Once thought to be extinct, its link to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods puts it squarely in the backyard of the dinosaurs, who no doubt looked to the trees as a food source. Despite this discovery, the scarcity of the tree makes it highly endangered, and its location in the park is a closely-guarded secret. No worries, though. There’s enough extraordinary landscape to keep you occupied, and the softer light of autumn provides a great backdrop for outstanding photography.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Stewards of Mount Rainier

By Linda Tancs

Washington’s Mount Rainier stands sentinel over the landscape at 14,410 feet. It’s not only an active volcano but also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S., spawning five major rivers. The Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island and Yakama people are the original stewards of the land, with archaeological evidence tracing Native use of the area back 9,000 years. Now a bustling national park, 97% of its area has been designated as wilderness by Congress. Stretching for 378 square miles, the park has five developed areas, with three visitor centers, a museum and several wilderness and climbing centers and ranger stations. Its features include subalpine meadows, the temperate rainforest environment at Carbon River and Mowich Lake, the largest and deepest lake in the park. Wherever you roam, take advantage of the numerous day hikes offered along 260 miles of maintained trails.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Glaciers in Patagonia

By Linda Tancs

In the Patagonia region of Argentina there’s no shortage of glaciers. That’s why the area is named Los Glaciares National Park. Located in the southwest of Santa Cruz on the border with Chile, the park includes a large portion of the Andes practically under ice and snow to the west and arid Patagonian steppes to the east. Its name refers to the glaciers that are born on the ice caps – the largest continental ice extension after Antarctica – which occupies almost half its area. In this region you’ll also find some of the world’s richest fossil beds, highest mountains and biggest glacier-fed lakes found anywhere. The park can be accessed from different points of Route No. 40, by bus or by car.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Seclusion in Thailand

By Linda Tancs

Fans of Leonardo DiCaprio will remember the 2000 film The Beach. It was shot in the Phi Phi Archipelago, a secluded island chain in Thailand. Well, it wasn’t so secluded after word got out about its beauty. Many locales, like Maya Bay (the actual “beach”) were forced to close due to damage done by overzealous tourists. But 2021 promises a reopening of this lustrious location following the replanting of natural coral. The area is part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

America’s Largest Glacial System

By Linda Tancs

America’s largest glacial system exists within park boundaries of Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Covering 35 percent of the parklands, glaciers are the headwaters for many of the river systems that flow through the park. One of the most stunning features of this area is Bagley Icefield. Touted as the largest nonpolar icefield in North America, it encompasses multiple glaciers and is 127 miles long, 6 miles wide and up to 3,000 feet thick in some places. In fact, it feeds many glaciers, including the Bering Glacier, the largest in North America. Both public and private lands exist in the park. Public lands are open year round; enjoy snowmobiling this time of year provided there’s adequate snow cover (at least one foot) and frozen ground.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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