Category Archives: Arch

Kalalau Valley

Kalalau Valley
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple nights
Major draws: Uninhabited beach, scenic views, birding
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per person per night
Additional considerations: Permits limited to 60 people per night and they sell out months in advance, feral goats but no chickens
Description: The trail to Kalalau is hell, but the place itself is paradise—the most beautiful place in all the Hawaiian Islands. Two nights is the minimum amount of time we would recommend staying.

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park

Kalalau Trail—Napali Coast State Wilderness Park
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, uninhabited coastline
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Sheer cliffs, trail slippery when wet (all the time)
Description: The only access to the idyllic Kalalau Valley is via this 11-mile one-way treacherous trail along the stunningly beautiful Napali Coast. Several deep stream crossings and deep mud require shoes or sandals that can get wet and not destroy your feet as you ascend and descend each of the numerous valleys.

Waimea Canyon State Park

Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park
Location: western Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Scenic views, waterfalls, hiking, birding
Strenuosity: 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Feral goats on trail, trail slippery when wet (which is all the time)
Description: The “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” is 3,600-feet deep and very colorful. Many trails crisscross these two state parks, including the one we took to the top of 800-foot Waipo’o Falls.

 

Big South Fork National River

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Location: Kentucky-Tennessee border
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Natural bridges, waterfalls, brand new film
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Ask for subtitles to understand regional accents in film, river paddling only when water is high enough
Description: We enjoyed our 2-mile hike to Twin Arches and look forward to returning to this park to explore its other trails and waterways.

Alleghany Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Alleghany Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Location: Gallitzin, Pennsylvania
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Museum, film, unique railroad history
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10 (handicap accessible)
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Drive don’t hike to Skew Arch Bridge
Description: Between 1834 and 1854, this unique railroad carried sectioned canal boats 36 miles up and over the Alleghany Mountains on a series of 10 inclined planes run by stationary steam engines.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park
Location: Mount Desert Island, Maine
Length of visit: full day to multiple days
Major draws: Lighthouses, wildlife, trails
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $25 per vehicle or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Parking difficult to impossible on weekends
Description: We met Tiff’s parents up here and had fun birdwatching, climbing the ladders on Precipice Trail, attending a star party, and listening to rocks tumble on the cobblestone beaches.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Location: Lake Superior on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Kayaking, colorful cliffs, arches, waterfalls
Strenuosity: 7 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Beach launch required for kayaks, large waves even without wind
Description: The only way to go through Petit Portal is by kayaking 4 miles one-way from Miner’s Beach. Don’t forget to wave to the people on the tour boats who can’t get very close to shore.

Worthington Glacier

Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site
Location: north of Valdez, Alaska
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Scenic views, a glacier you can touch
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: There is not a maintained trail to the edge of the glacier
Description: Since 2004, Scott has returned three times to Worthington Glacier to witness its recession higher up the mountain. It is located near Thompson Pass, one of the snowiest spots in Alaska.

Root Glacier

Root Glacier—Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Location: Kennecott, Alaska
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Ice formations, off-trail glacier exploration, crystal clear drinking water
Strenuosity: 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $110 per person for 9-hour guided tour
Additional considerations: Moulins can be hundreds of feet deep, crampons required for walking, katabatic winds are cold
Description: Learning the basics of glacier route-finding was worth every penny we paid on this sunny day in Kennecott. Our excellent guide Ethan took us to waterfalls, slot canyons, kames, blue pools, and moraines, while keeping us from getting too close to dangerous moulins.

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, unique architecture
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $13 for tram ride or $10 with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Tram cars are claustrophobia-inducing
Description: Finished in 1965, the Arch represents the gateway to the western frontier. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is currently under expansion and should be complete by late-2017.