Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam—Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Location: Boulder City, Nevada
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, history
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free parking on Arizona side, fees for tours and visitor center
Additional considerations: Security checkpoint, no food allowed on dam
Description: Engineering marvel built across the Colorado River from 1931-35.  Great views from Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge which was completed in 2010.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes—Death Valley National Park
Location: eastern California
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Sand dunes, scenic views
Strenuosity: 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per vehicle or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Sand gets hot in the sun, no shade
Description: Large dune field surrounded by colorful mountain ranges.  Follow footprints or blaze your own trail.


Pismo State Beach

Pismo State Beach
Location: Pismo Beach, California
Length of visit: 1 to 2 hours
Major draws: Monarch butterfly wintering grounds, sandy beach
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free if you park on Hwy 1
Additional considerations: Butterflies congregate December to early February, foggy most of the year
Description: Eucalyptus grove attracts thousands of monarch butterflies each winter (for more photos see our other blog).  A short walk leads past the campground to a wide sandy beach.

Pinnacles National Park

West Entrance—Pinnacles National Park
Location: Soledad, California
Length of visit: half to full day
Major draws: Scenic views, talus caves, endangered California condors, rock climbing
Strenuosity: 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $15 per vehicle or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Poison-oak, narrow and windy roads, flashlights required for talus caves, bring binoculars to differentiate condors and buzzards, gates locked at night
Description: The newest “National Park” in the NPS system, it is the best place in the state to view endangered California condors soaring above the rock formations for which the park is named.  Trails are typically steep and composed of loose gravel.