Category Archives: Red rocks

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.

 

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park
Location: Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada
Length of visit: at least 6 hours
Major draws: Flowerpot rock formations, greatest tidal change in the world
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $10 per adult for two-day pass
Additional considerations: Check tide tables before you visit
Description: We are breaking our rule of not including foreign country posts for this incredible site just north of Maine. We thought it might get boring watching the tide come in over 6 hours, but we never cracked our books. See 45-minutes of action here:

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.

Black Hills Rockhound Area

Black Hills Rockhound Area
Location: east of Safford, Arizona
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Scenic views, rockhounding
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: No shade, good dirt road
Description: 2 miles off Highway 191, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a signed rockhounding area that is rich with fire agates.  Digging is allowed in this remote area.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Location: north of Amarillo, Texas
Length of visit: 3 hours
Major draws: Flint knapping demonstrations, scenic views, museum with great 10-minute film
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: No shade
Description: Be sure to take the quarry tour offered twice daily for a chance to see where humans have been making flint tools for 12,000 years. The rangers here are proud of their little park and they’ll be happy to let you take rock samples home from knapping demonstrations (the flint is not from within park boundaries).

Chief Joseph Scenic Highway

Chief Joseph Scenic Highway—Shoshone National Forest
Location: north of Cody, Wyoming
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, canyons, hiking, campgrounds
Strenuosity: 0 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Frequent high winds, switchbacks
Description: Highway 296 in northwest Wyoming offers some of the best mountain scenery in the country. After 46 miles it dead ends into the impressive Beartooth Highway, an All-American Road.

 

Seven Mile Hole Trail

Seven Mile Hole Trail—Yellowstone National Park
Location: northwest Wyoming
Length of visit: 5 hours to overnight
Major draws: Geothermal features, scenic views, backpacking
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $30 per vehicle or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Hiking inside active volcanic caldera, loose footing, high elevation
Description: This 4.5-mile trail follows the rim of Yellowstone Canyon then drops 1,500-feet to the river and our favorite backpacking camp in the park—4C1—with multiple fumaroles, hot springs, and warm rocks to sit on when the temperature drops.

Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park
Location: Lumpkin, Georgia
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Scenic views, hiking in canyons
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $5 day use
Additional considerations: Canyon hiking is in a shallow running stream, frequent tree falling
Description: Poor agricultural practices led to unstoppable erosion of sandstone starting 150 years ago.  The result is a colorfully striated canyon as seen on the Uhaul trailer image for Georgia.