Author: Brittany Lockheart

7 Haunted Ghost Towns You Can Visit

7 Haunted Ghost Towns You Can Visit

Ghost towns are spooky simply because they are abandoned and in a state of disrepair. Walking the streets of an empty town can stir the imagination of what once was. However, some ghost towns appear to be thriving even in the afterlife. Although any old ghost town can be spooky, some are believed to be booming with paranormal activity. Let’s take a look at a few haunted ghost towns.

St. Elmo, Colorado

St. Elmo is Colorado’s most famous ghost town. The town was founded in 1880 when people flocked there for gold and silver mining. However, the mining industry did not last long, and people abandoned the town. One family tried to keep the town alive by renting cabins and running a hotel and a general store. But some towns were meant to pass into the eons of time. According to visitors, some of the residents apparently stayed on. Doors slammed shut, and the temperature dropped in certain rooms of the hotel. People also reported apparitions of a woman in a white dress.

Grafton, Utah

Life was harsh and difficult in Grafton. However, the town flourished for a while. But Grafton seemed to be plagued with disease and accidents, and many people died. Eventually, it became a ghost town. However, visitors report that many of the past residents persist in Grafton, Utah. Visitors report the feeling of being watched and feeling someone’s breath on the back of their necks as if someone is right behind them. They also report ghostly footsteps and shadowy figures. The cemetery appears to be one of the most haunted places, where crying, laughing, and even screams can be heard.

Bode, California

Bode was a mining camp that became home to a population of 10,000 people at its peak. However, the town gradually went into decline and was fully abandoned by 1962. Many possessions were left behind, and visitors to Bode are sometimes tempted to take home an item or two. However, a curse supposedly follows those who take items from the town. Due to the curse, people often return the items along with their deeply felt apologies.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Deadwood blossomed into a boom town with the discovery of gold. However, the town became a haven for outlaws and gunslingers as well as miners. Along with its fair share of crime, the town suffered devastating fires and an outbreak of smallpox. The remnants of those who once lived there remain in the form of shadowy figures, voices, and footsteps. Visitors report plenty of paranormal activity in the abandoned hotels and saloons.

Terlingua, Texas

Terlingua was once a thriving mining town. However, conditions in the mine were tough, and many miners died. Once the mines dried up, people began to leave town. According to Wikipedia, as of 2020, 110 residents still call Terlingua home. There seems to be a strong supernatural presence alive and well there also. Visitors report that the church door opens on its own, and there is an eerie feeling inside. People also report blurred vision, dizziness, and disorientation. Is there a scientific explanation for these occurrences, or is it the work of ghosts? Only the residents of Terlingua know for sure.

Garnet, Montana

Garnet was a gold-rush town that thrived until a fire destroyed half the town in 1912. Afterward, the mines began producing less and eventually ran dry. People eventually abandoned the town leaving behind only memories of the past. Visitors report an eerie feeling in the town, however, and the sounds of laughter and music can be heard at the saloon. Perhaps, past residents are reliving the heyday of Garnet, Montana.

Bannack, Montana

Bannack was founded in 1862 when gold was discovered. At its peak, the population reached approximately 10,000 residents. However, the town was riddled with crime. The miners didn’t do as well as they expected, and their dreams of striking it rich diminished. Eventually, the mines went dry, and even though the crime rate dropped, the population dwindled. By 1960, the town was abandoned. The old mining town is now a national historic landmark. Visitors report cold spots, apparitions, and other paranormal activity at Bannack.

Conclusion

Ghost towns have a certain appeal whether they are haunted or not. We are often drawn to the past and wonder what life was like for those who lived in a different time and place. If you are fascinated by ghost towns, these are just a few that you will want to visit.

7 Must-Visit Canadian Cities for an Incredible Vacation

7 Must-Visit Canadian Cities for an Incredible Vacation

If you’re looking for an incredible vacation spot, look no further than Canada! This amazing country is home to some of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. From Vancouver to Toronto, there’s something for everyone in Canada. In this blog post, we will discuss seven of the best Canadian cities to visit on your next vacation. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!

1.)  Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is an amazing city located on the west coast of Canada. This beautiful city is known for its stunning natural scenery, as well as its cosmopolitan atmosphere. There’s something for everyone in Vancouver, whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors or experience the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Vancouver is home to many great attractions, including Stanley Park, Granville Island, and the Vancouver Aquarium. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll definitely want to check out Vancouver’s stunning parks and gardens. And if you’re looking for a more urban adventure, Vancouver’s downtown core is full of high-end shops and restaurants.

2.) Toronto, Ontario

7 Must-Visit Canadian Cities for an Incredible Vacation

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the capital of Ontario. This bustling metropolis is known for its diverse population, vibrant culture, and beautiful architecture. There’s always something happening in Toronto, whether it’s a concert at the Air Canada Centre or a play at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Toronto is home to many great attractions, including the CN Tower, the Toronto Zoo, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. If you’re a fan of shopping Yorkville and Eaton Centre will be right up your alley while if you’re looking for a more unique experience, Toronto’s Chinatown is definitely worth a visit.

3.) Thunder Bay, Ontario

Thunder Bay is a city located in the northwestern part of Ontario. This charming city is known for its lovely waterfront, as well as its many parks and trails. Thunder Bay is also home to a number of great museums, including the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the Fort William Historical Park.

With plenty of winter and summer activities to enjoy, Thunder Bay is the perfect destination for any season. In the winter, you can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in one of the city’s many parks. And in the summer, you can enjoy hiking, biking, and kayaking.

4.) Halifax, Nova Scotia

Loved by tourists and locals alike, Halifax is a beautiful city located on the east coast of Canada. This historic city is known for its stunning waterfront, as well as its rich culture and history. Not only that, but Halifax is also a great place to enjoy some delicious seafood.

Some of Halifax’s most popular attractions include the Halifax Citadel, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and Pier 21. If you’re looking for a unique experience, be sure to check out the city’s many ghost walks. You can also take a scenic drive along the Cabot Trail or go whale watching in Peggy’s Cove.

5.) Quebec City, Quebec

More than just poutine, Quebec City is a beautiful city located in the province of Quebec. This French-speaking city is known for its European atmosphere, as well as its many historic landmarks.

Some of Quebec City’s most popular attractions include the Chateau Frontenac, Place Royale, and the Basilique Notre-Dame de Quebec. If you’re looking to do some shopping, be sure to check out Rue Saint-Jean or Rue Saint-Paul. And if you’re looking to try some delicious food, head to Le Vieux Port for some traditional Quebecois cuisine.

6.) Montreal, Quebec

Montreal is another great French-speaking city located in the province of Quebec. This vibrant city is known for its diverse population, lively nightlife, and delicious food.

Canadians and visitors alike flock to Montreal for its many festivals, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Montreal is also home to a number of great museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the McCord Museum.

And of course, no visit to Montreal would be complete without trying some of the city’s famous food. From poutine to bagels, there’s something for everyone in Montreal.

7.) St. John’s, Newfoundland

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland. This quaint city is known for its colourful houses, as well as its rich culture and history.

St. John’s is home to a number of great attractions, including Signal Hill, the Johnson Geo Centre, and the Railway Coastal Museum. You can also take a scenic hike along the East Coast Trail or go whale watching in Newfoundland’s capital city. If that’s not enough to convince you, St. John’s was also named one of the friendliest cities in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Final Thoughts

Canadian cities offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors or enjoy some world-class cuisine. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Canada today!

4 Must See Attractions For Your Saskatchewan Vacation

4 Must See Attractions For Your Saskatchewan Vacation

Saskatchewan is a rural yet historically rich province that can keep engaging and amazing the whole family. While lacking a major urban hub like Ontario’s Toronto or Vancouver in B.C., Saskatchewan still provides a beautiful medley of the old-fashioned and the urbane with plenty to do (and even more to see) within its unsuspecting borders. Here’s a list of just some of the fantastic things Saskatchewan has to offer.

Where to Visit In Saskatchewan

1.) Cypress Hills and Grasslands National Park

Seated at the highest point in the entire province, Cypress Hills is a beautiful, rolling landscape perfectly suited for any combination of hiking, camping, fishing or simply just enjoying its natural beauty. Cypress Hills and Grassland’s National Park are a true bucket list destination for any serious outdoorsmen.  And once the sun sets, it’ll be just you, your family, and the light of a trillion Milky Way stars shining down on you. It’s a sight very few people get to experience, aided greatly by the 5,000 foot elevation of the park.

2.) The Tunnels of Moose Jaw

Learn about the sordid past of one of Canada’s most historic cities through an immersive, underground experience in the Tunnels of Moose Jaw. The tunnels were originally created as part of a plan to power the city with steam heat, but was then abandoned and rumored to be occupied by Chinese immigrants as a shelter. After that, the tunnels were used for rum smuggling purposes during prohibition. The tunnels even boasted the infamous Al Capone as one of its main smugglers. The site was also used as an underground brothel for a time before turning into a cold war bunker. At the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, tour guides will walk you through the ages so you can re-live the entertaining history of one of Canada’s most notorious hotspots.

3.) Twisted Trees

Experience this unsettling grove of Quaking Aspens deep in the heart of Saskatchewan’s dense forests. These one-of-a-kind trees have interwoven to create the marvelous site located in Speers Saskatchewan. The Twisted Trees are thought to have originated from one single source hundreds of years ago, but nobody can quite get a true understanding of how this phenomenon came to be. The site is surrounded on all sides by “normal” aspen groves, which make the ubiquitously deformed grove all the more interesting. The tree’s hallmark twisting feature is just one of the many deformities within the aspen grove all working together to shed an unnatural and unnerving light on those inside of it. Heralded as one of the great botanical mysteries on earth, this site will keep you in awe for hours on end.

4.) St. Victor Petroglyphs

On the topic of great unsolved mysteries, the St. Victor Petroglyphs also need mentioning. The majestic outcropping features the engravings of Saskatchewan’s pre-contact people. They are thought to have been carved around 500 AD and then over the years, more tribes added to the engravings with various images of people, animals, and geometric patterns. Nobody knows for sure who created them or what they were created for. Some people believe the carvings or religious in nature, some favor the theory that the rock was used to boast about hunting exploits, while some say that the rock was a form of artistic expression. Even though the reason for the mysterious engravings on the rock is hard to come to an agreement on, the awe that’s inspired when in the presence of St. Victor’s petroglyphs is universal.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman looking for new lands to conquer or simply in the mood for excitement and mystery, Saskatchewan’s unique blend of culture and nature is enough to satisfy every single type of traveler. Within its 250,000sq miles lies enough densely wooded forests, sprawling plains, burgeoning city centers, and historical and natural oddities to fill out more than a few extended vacations. The only thing left to decide is what type of adventure you’re looking for.

Choosing the Right Hostel 101

Planning a backpacking trip can be overwhelming. Once you’ve got your dates set, instead of simply being excited about your upcoming adventure, you realize that there are (what feels like) a million stress-inducing aspects you now have to worry about: plane tickets, visas, vaccines, voltage converters, phone plans, booking tours… the list goes on. Suddenly, you google search “accommodation” in your chosen destination, and just about have a melt-down. A thousand websites claim to have the best prices, and a thousand more claim to have the best lodging options in the world. What’s a backpacker to do? Solution: Read, reread, and take note of this list of tried and true tricks to choosing the absolute best hostels available, and for the best prices.

Double Check Reviews using Multiple Sources

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to booking apps. Hostel World is probably the most popular among backpackers (justifiably so), alongside TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Agoda, and more. Due to this high volume of choices, it’s important to “consider your audience” when reading reviews on a hostel. A five-star Hostel World review of a joint right on the strip of Thailand’s Full Moon Party doesn’t mean much when you take into account the likelihood that every person leaving a review was too belligerently drunk during their entire stay to notice things like power outages, bed bugs, or literal slabs of styrofoam where mattresses should’ve been. Yikes.

It would be a rookie mistake to book the place, seeing as if you simply double check on TripAdvisor or Booking.com, you would be bombarded with the wide variety of helpful complaints available from an entirely different demographic of backpackers. Similarly, a hostel listed alongside 5-star resorts on TripAdvisor may have a low rating, but it could meet all of the requirements for those booking through Hostel World. Everybody has their own taste—and differences in taste are often reflected on different apps.

Keep Your Location in Mind

No air conditioning may seem like no biggie in the crisp Slovenian mountains, but in muggy Salento, Colombia, you may be unbearably uncomfortable without it. Nothing is worse than planning day after day of activity, and being miserable through all of it because your dorm room is simply too hot to even fall asleep in.

On the same note, walking a mile just to get breakfast might not be too terrible during the cool spring of flat Venice, but on a hot summer day in hilly San Francisco, you may as well take some pre-workout at the beginning of the day—you’re in for a trek. Your location, along with certain amenities, gain and lose importance depending on where you are in the world. It will serve you well to keep those details in mind when booking.

Compare & Contrast Prices Among Apps

Just as important as it is to compare and contrast reviews, it is important to compare and contrast prices. Through experience, you will discover which platforms tend to offer the best prices for the types of hostels you seek out, and you’ll collect a list of 3-4 sites you’ll know to always check prices between. Certain websites, such as booking.com, also offer a “price match guarantee” policy. That means that, if you were to find the same exact room in a hostel with the same exact booking contract for less money on a different site, Booking.com will match that price. Pretty sweet deal, right?

Pro Tip: my list of key apps includes Hostel World, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and sometimes even Airbnb. Some hostels list bunks and private rooms on Airbnb for discounted prices, and the reviews tend to be even more accurate than on other platforms.

Choose Your “Must-Haves,” and Stick To Them

Are you traveling with a lot of valuables? Well, lockers might be a must-have for you. Did you not leave enough room to pack your own towel? Towels included (or for rent) is a must-have. Insist on hot water? Strongly prefer breakfast included? Feel most comfortable in gender-specific dorm rooms? Can’t sleep in the heat, and need air conditioning? These are all must-haves.

Many apps have made it easy nowadays by allowing you to filter your search results based on amenities, while also separating ratings into categories. Viewers can check out how previous guests rated certain characteristics of a hostel such as the location, cleanliness, security, atmosphere, and so-on, rather than having to read every single review to see a place’s pros and cons. It’s incredibly convenient for us perspective guests!

Pro Tip: Nothing will make your stay more uncomfortable than a place that just feels incurably dirty, especially when it may cause you to contract an illness. Cleanliness should always be a top priority when picking where you want to stay.

A good rule of thumb is: if any previous reviews mention bugs in the beds, gross bathrooms, or filthy sheets/floors, it’s not worth a bargain price. You’ll more than likely wish you’d bitten the bullet and picked another pricier place to sleep, or worse—you’ll end up miserable, having to switch hostels in the middle of your trip without a refund. Skip the hassle. Be high maintenance with cleanliness. This is one investment you will not regret.

MORE: Packing for a long-haul trip is a lot different than for a week-long getaway. Check out our guide to make sure you know what to bring and what to leave behind for life on the road.

How to Choose Your Perfect Destination

It’s a great big world out there… and when it comes to exploring all of its corners, the sky is the limit! Yet, with an endless amount of things to see, being limitless can start to feel like a curse. You’ve got all the freedom in the world, and not a clue what to do with it. You’ve bookmarked a few dreamy photos on Instagram and collected some pages from travel magazines… but really, where do you even begin when it comes to choosing the best place to go? Lucky for you, you found this guide to narrow things down, and show you the way to your next adventure.

Consider your Budget

It’s safe to say that some destinations are far easier on the wallet than others. Switzerland, Singapore, Costa Rica… sure, it’d be awesome to knock all of these places off of the bucket list, but it probably won’t be budget-friendly. You could spend three weeks in central Mexico for the price it might cost you to spend just one week in Rome… and that would be if you really were a careful spender in the latter. The U.S. dollar goes a long way in some countries, and not far at all in others. Do your research before buying your ticket. Browse accommodation costs, research how much the average meal will be, and consider daily transportation. Don’t get yourself in over your head; pick a place/region that is appropriate for your bank account!

Consider Culture

Some cultures are more suitable to certain travelers than others. For example: consider the native language. Things go downhill fast when you’re in a foreign country dying to find a bathroom, but not a soul around you can understand a single word you’re frantically saying. There are many countries around the world where a large percentage of the locals speak and understand the English language and many countries where extremely few people do. This is definitely worth taking into account when choosing your destination!

It is also wise to consider other aspects of culture, such as human rights, dress-code, etc. For instance, if you’re planning a romantic getaway for you and your significant other of the same sex, it’s probably best to avoid visiting countries where it is illegal for two men or two women to hold hands in public. Similarly, it is considered extremely inappropriate in some parts of the world for women to wear clothing that leaves the shoulders and knees exposed. If this makes you uncomfortable, for your own sake, it might be best to choose another region.

Consider Safety

It is vital to consider how safe your destination prospects are before committing to a plane ticket. This is easy enough to research; Google search news in your prospective destination, and if there are rebellions, riots, strikes, or the obvious roadblocks such as gang violence, attacks on tourists, or active wars, you should probably think twice before booking. Still not sure what to think? Check online with the U.S. Department of State to see if there are any Travel Advisories out for your destination of choice. Countries will be classified as Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, or Level 4, which respectively labels them with “exercise normal precautions,” “exercise increased caution,” “reconsider travel,” or “do not travel.” Safety can be city dependent, so it is more than possible to travel to even a Level 3 country without worry or incident, but for the inexperienced traveler, it is best to do your research and trust the advisories. Safety first!

Consider Visas

This is an easy one to forget about and can cause a whole lot of headache if not carefully observed. A two-second google search can tell you whether or not you will need a visa to visit a certain country, but processing times, cost, or ability to enter at all will vary from country to country. In some places, you won’t be permitted entry whatsoever, visa or not. In others, you’ll only be permitted entry if you can prove that you haven’t been to certain other countries prior to your trip, or if you can prove that you have certain vaccinations, among other criteria. Seriously–don’t risk detainment, deportation, or an involuntary cavity search (yes, it can, and will happen if you aren’t prepared). Figure out your visa situation early on, and give yourself room for error in processing time.

Consider Climate

If you’ve never seen snow before in your life and are trying to plan a trip to Northern Norway in the dead of winter, take a step back to look at your wardrobe. How can you possibly pack appropriately when you don’t have the equipment to do so, or the luggage space to pack for ten layers of clothing each day? Alternatively, say that you want to knock out two destinations in one go: Central Africa during the summer, and St. Petersburg in the winter. Is it really efficient to pack two entirely different wardrobes for two opposite climates? If you haven’t guessed it already, the answer is no. Stick with weather conditions that your packing list and itinerary can accommodate — jumping in the water at Ha Long Bay, while an epic feat under any circumstances, is going to be far more enjoyable in the spring than in the summer. Plan accordingly to make the best use of your travel budget.

MORE: You’ve found the perfect destination, now you just have to fit your life into a backpack. Here are our tips and tricks to downsizing your life into one bag.

For Adventurers, Not Tourists: Boquete, Panama

The small Central American nation of Panama has a relatively new reputation of being “not for tourists.” According to Visit Panama (the national tourism board), this destination is rather for “Explorers,” “Sunchasers,” “Culture seekers,” and “Travelers.” In other words, authenticity and adventure are bound to encapsulate you from the moment you step off of that airplane.

This is especially true for those who choose to spend time in the breezy inland town of Boquete. Stationed directly in between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in the cool, mountainous region of Chiriquí, this is the perfect location for those of us who like to get outside and enjoy all of the excitement nature has to offer.

Go Rock Climbing

One of the most thrilling, challenging, and worthwhile experiences to undertake in Boquete would definitely be rock-climbing. There are loads of places just around town with beautiful walls of abstract rock formations just waiting to be scaled. Even one short stretch of rock will offer climbs for many different skill levels, meaning this is an activity that everyone can take advantage of, even those who are disabled.

Break a sweat, push your body to its limit, get a few blisters, and reward yourself with a spectacular view of the Panamanian mountains after reaching the top of your climb. Tours run at a quite affordable rate, averaging at around $45 per 5-6 hour tour (all gear, instruction, and professional guides included). This is definitely a do-not-miss excursion!

Hike to the Lost Waterfalls

Perhaps the most popular outdoor activity in the Boquete area (and for a good reason) is the Lost Falls Trail. Plenty of tour companies offer organized trips, but this is more of a DIY adventure, as planning it out is both easy and cheaper than booking a tour. This hike is considered easy-moderate, takes about three hours to complete, and will lead you to not one, not two, but three separate waterfalls along the way.

Cross over a suspension bridge, duck under hanging vines, and make your way over exotic greenery littered with wildflowers before reaching these gushing visions straight out of your wildest fantasies. Immerse yourself in the Panamanian wilderness and go for a brisk dip while relaxing underneath the cloud forest canopy, but don’t forget to keep an eye out for sloths and quetzals in the meantime!

Go Whitewater Rafting

Get your heart pounding, your adrenaline pumping, and your clothes soaked by spending a day rushing down the continuous class III rapids in what is one of the best rafting destinations on Earth. The Chiriquí province homes several world-class whitewater runs; the river you’ll take a trip down simply depends on rainfall, season, and overall water levels.

Between your options of Rio Chiriquí Viejo, Rio Fonseca, Rio Gariche, and Rio Chiriquí among others, you’ll no doubt have the time of your life whipping around bends and flying over boulders while enjoying some of Panama’s best scenery. Many tour operators in the area also include a buffet lunch in the price of the tour, meaning you’ll get to take a midday break from paddling to sit riverside and eat to your heart’s content in the serenity of the Panamanian jungle. If it’s hours of all-inclusive excitement you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place!

Hike up a Volcano

The most notorious hike in Boquete, and perhaps in all of Panama, lies in plain sight of Boquete town on Volcán Baru. Daring hikers pull all-nighters to make the most of their time at the peak by scheduling their arrival at sunrise. However, because this is a 27km trek from around 3,000ft all the way up to 11,398ft and back down again, this means beginning the journey at 11:30 PM the night before. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that the peak rarely reaches temperatures above freezing!

It is important to acknowledge that this hike is pitch black, often slippery, has a steep incline and elevation increase, and is in an area with temperamental weather conditions. It is not recommended that non-professionals attempt this journey if it is raining or if the winds are powerful, as this poses the threat of you getting stuck at the top of the volcano during a storm (which could lead to hypothermia, altitude sickness, and more dangers related to the flooding of the trails). However, if the weather does permit, prepare yourself with a bright headlamp, snacks, water, warm layers, and probably some toilet paper, and hit the trails right as bedtime rolls around.

By the time you reach the top, the sun will just be peeking over a layer of clouds swirling thousands of feet below you. Snap some pictures of the incredible view, then warm back up on the well-lit descent. It is a gorgeous and flourishing green trail that you’ll be glad you got to witness with the sun out before returning to your hotel to sleep for the rest of the day.

7 Favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites In The US!

Did you know the United States has a total of 21 UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Pretty cool, right?  After researching all of the various locations and taking a random survey from fellow TouristDigest.com members, we compiled a list of our 7 favorite sites in the U.S. and a few details on each.

Let’s get things started with a little place called Yellowstone.

1.) Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

The sheer size of the Yellowstone National Park makes it amazing. With more than 9,000 square kilometers of open and natural space, this is one park in the US where you will find geothermal wonders, geysers, and the best of American wildlife.

2.) Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is a majestic landscape carved by the Colorado River. This geological spectacle is over 2 billion years old – and it still doesn’t stop evolving.

3.) Independence Hall

Independence Hall

The US Declaration of Independence in 1776 was well preserved in the same hall where the most important document in American history was signed. Located in Philadelphia, this UNESCO site is indeed a must-see for anyone who wants to know more about American history. Technically speaking, it is in this hall where the United States of America was born.

4.) Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

This park in Washington State is known for its diverse ecosystem. It has everything that you would ever want to see and explore – rainforest, river systems, mountains, coastline, and wilderness. This park is indeed the ultimate one-stop-shop for all nature lovers.

5.) Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Who hasn’t heard of the Statue of Liberty? This enormous structure created by French sculptor Bartholdi, with a little help from Gustave Eiffel, stands right at the New York Harbor. Since its inauguration in 1886, it has welcomed millions visitors and immigrants to the US. This landmark is indeed one of the most popular attractions in America.

6.) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii is where the most active and the most picturesque volcanoes are found. On this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll see two of them, namely the Kilauea and the Mauna Loa. These two volcanoes that overlook the Pacific Ocean stand at 1,250 meters and 4,170 meters high, respectively.

7.) Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

The Waterton Glacier is the first international peace park in the world. This park sits between the borders of the US and Canada, and were combined together to create a large UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the US side, it lies within the boundaries of Montana. It used to be called the Glacier National Park.

On Canada’s side, more particularly in Alberta, it was previously called the Waterton Lakes National Park. This park is very rich in flora and fauna, while also offering forests, prairies, and glaciers as part of it ensemble.

Arizona: Must-See Trails in the Superstitions

The desert has a lot more to offer than just cacti, rattlesnakes and heat. It has diversity, beauty and an endless amount of trails to explore. But not all trails are created equal.

When living or visiting the Phoenix area, it can be overwhelming when looking for a trail to hike. There are city hikes, hikes that require 4WD to get to, and hikes that are very easy to get confused, injured, or lost on. The desert is not to be taken lightly. But if you begin your hikes prepared, you’re almost guaranteed to have a great time.

@trustyourtrail

A few tips to surviving the desert trails:

  • Water, tons of water. Bring all of the water you can carry.
  • Carry a comb – not to style your hair (the desert doesn’t care about that), but to help remove any cacti that may become attached to you, your gear or dog.
  • Snacks – it’s important to stay fueled on the trails.
  • Research – know the distance of your trail, the elevation change and absolutely check the weather beforehand.

Now, let’s get onto the fun stuff. The must-see trails in the Superstition Wilderness! The trails that will provide you with those iconic desert scenes.

The Superstitions are located about 45 minutes East of Phoenix. The closest towns are Apache Junction and Gold Canyon.

Peralta Trail

  • Moderate Difficulty
  • Family/Pet-Friendly
  • 4.9 Miles RT
  • 1,345 ft in Elevation Gain
  • Free Parking

This trail begins at the Peralta TH, which is 6 miles down a dirt road that is accessible by all vehicles – unless it’s after a heavy rain. Peralta Trail is a stunning out and back, that leads to Fremont Saddle and an incredible view of Weaver’s Needle (the heart of the Superstitions). This is a well-known trail in the Superstitions, and it never disappoints! If you’re into backpacking, there is the option to hike out to that Lone Pine (you see pictured, towards the right side). There is a unique and secluded campsite here that offers priceless sunset and sunrise views. Don’t miss out on Peralta Trail.

Wave Cave Trail

@trustyourtrail
  • Easy to Moderate Difficulty
  • Family/Pet-Friendly
  • 3.5 Miles RT
  • 990 ft in Elevation Gain
  • Free Parking

The Wave Cave Trail is a truly unique experience. The cave can actually be seen from the parking lot, which is 4.5 down Peralta Rd. It’s a relatively easy trail, until a little uphill scramble towards the end. As you approach the cave, it has the appearance of a wave – hence the name! This hike is known for its fun silhouette photo opportunities. The Wave Cave is a blast for all ages. The cave itself is very large inside, with soft silt on the bottom; providing a great place to have lunch or just rest up before the return hike. I can’t recommend this trail enough; I’ve taken so many friends to share in this experience.

Hieroglyphic Trail

@trustyourtrail
  • Easy Difficulty
  • Family/Pet-Friendly
  • 3 Miles RT
  • 580 ft in Elevation Gain
  • Free Parking

The Hieroglyphic Trail is a go-to for families and out of town visitors. It is one of the easier trails, that still leads to incredible scenery in a unique canyon. To put a cherry on top – this trail leads to beautiful Petroglyphs. The Petroglyphs are authentic and unique, please be respectful and do not deface them! The Hieroglyphic Trail leads to pools of water, that are full most of the year. The area, in the photo above, is the place where most people turn around. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually follow a rarely traveled trail deeper into the canyon. Most likely you won’t see another soul, past the pools and Petroglyphs! Enjoy whichever type of adventure you choose!

Lost Dutchman State Park

@trusyourtrail
  • Easy to Difficult (depending on trail)
    • Treasure Loop is easy (2.3 Miles RT, 534 ft Elevation Gain)
    • Siphon Draw to Flat Iron is very difficult (6.2 Miles RT, 2,993 ft Elevation Gain)
  • Family/Pet-Friendly
  • State Park Fees for Parking: $7

Lost Dutchman State Park is quite possibly one of my favorite places in the world. This particular view of the Superstitions is hard to beat; the rock formations are just breathtaking. Lost Dutchman offers hiking, camping and a variety of activities such as guided night hikes and classes on wildlife and nature. There are many trails to choose from, at this State Park. I’d highly recommend the Treasure Loop Trail and Siphon Draw. Both offer incredible views, enough elevation gain to get your blood pumping and the opportunity to see wildlife.

If you’re up for a true challenge, you can hike Siphon Draw Trail all the way up to Flat Iron. This hike is not for the faint of heart; please do not attempt unless fully prepared. If you do decide to give it go, make sure to listen to your body, take your time and drink plenty of water – the views are worth it! And if you’re lucky enough to visit in the Spring (March), you can usually witness the Brittle Bush blooms – as long as there has been enough rain the year prior. Do NOT miss out on visiting Lost Dutchman State Park, the Arizona State Park system is one of a kind!

Boulder Canyon Trail

@trustyourtrail
  • Moderate Difficulty
  • Family/Pet-Friendly
  • Up to 10 Miles
  • 1,500 ft in Elevation Gain
  • Free Parking, at the Canyon Lake Marina

This trail will be the most challenging, but also the quietest, on this list. Boulder Canyon has incredible, sweeping views of the Superstitions and Canyon Lake. It climbs right out of the gate, for about the first mile. From there, the trail is more gradual – with dips and small inclines. After a few miles, it will be you to the incredible view in the photo above. Seen in this view is Battleship Mountain (research that hike, if you’re looking for a really incredible challenge), and Weaver’s Needle peeping in the background. From this point, you have the option to continue down to the bottom of the canyon, or it can be a great place to have lunch before turning around. Boulder Canyon is a stunning trail that shouldn’t be skipped over.

Of everywhere I’ve visited, the Superstition Wilderness holds one of the dearest places in my heart. Arizona is known for the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Antelope Canyon, and the Painted Desert – but don’t discount this mountain range. They are worth every moment of the journey to see them. Absolutely worth every moment!

A few things to be ready for:

  • Wildlife, including coyote, rattlesnakes, rabbits, bobcats, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, deer, hawks, javelina, bald eagles and more! It is not uncommon to see any and all of the wildlife listed, year round – even rattlesnakes.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: it’s nearly impossible to beat the desert sky, so have that camera ready.
  • Weather: Summer is hotter than you can imagine, and Monsoon Season (July-September) can be very dangerous – be safe.
  • The beauty: just be ready to have your mind blown, by the desert!
  • Cholla: not the kind of cacti you want to mess around with. Avoid these guys. But if you get one attached to you – that’s what the comb is for!
@trustyourtrail

To read more of Katie’s writing, check out her blog, Trust Your Trail.

How to Downsize to Fit Your Life Into a Backpack

Some of us really struggle with leaving our material things behind. Those things may be clothes, shoes, cosmetics, electronics… it’s different for everyone. However, when you are set out to board a one-way flight across the globe with nothing but a massive backpack and your passport in hand, you’ll need to learn how to downsize. This is a skill that can be practiced and improved on and is pretty dang essential when it comes to packing. Follow these tips to help ease yourself into a minimalist lifestyle.

Practice

Practicing downsizing before your take-off date can be extremely beneficial. Try downsizing in phases! Gather together an original selection of the clothes and items you would ideally like to bring on your trip, then leave it for the day. Come back to it later, but with higher standards (such as the type of materials you’re willing to bring). Eliminate all articles which don’t meet this standard, then leave it for the day again. Repeat this process the next day, each time adding a new standard, and lessening your load.

Eventually, you will probably be close to a small enough selection that it is packable… at that point, it’s time to lay down the law, and pick what things are simply your favorites. What clothes do you wear most often? What do you feel the most confident wearing? What items will look the best when worn with your other clothes?

Pro tip: A good general rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in the past six months, leave it behind. You can adjust this qualifying factor by narrowing it broadening it as much as is necessary.

Don’t be sentimental

Okay, so you’ve had that shirt since freshman year of high school. It’s been there with you through everything, and you have specific memories of your life tied to each and every stain and tear on its fabric… but let’s be practical. It’s just unwise to take up space packing something totally weathered when you have a dozen perfectly presentable, intact shirts to bring. Don’t let emotions or sentimentality get in the way of rationality. Just because it was a gift, you’ve had it forever, or it’s from your favorite band’s concert, doesn’t mean it should come along with you on your trip.

If something is that important to you, storing things back in your home country isn’t off the table, but you’ll be kicking yourself with a 60 lb backpack if you decide to bring along everything you’ve ever felt attached to.

Turn your past into profits

Why bother sticking ten pairs of shoes in a storage box when you could sell them for enough money to pay for a week of lodging across the world? Consignment stores, eBay, and buy/sell apps, or even garage sales offer glorious ways to capitalize on your downsizing. If you still have some shopping to do before your trip, consignment stores will either buy your used items off of you for cash or give you an even higher amount of money in store credit.

Where is the bad news? Well, some consignment stores can be pretty selective about the types of things they’ll accept… which is when you turn to apps like LetGo, Poshmark, or Offerup, where you can list your things online for the world to see and purchase. Make a little extra travel money, take some weight off your shoulders, and extend the life of your belongings all in one go!

Strive for versatility

This is probably the best tip there is out there when it comes to downsizing. You don’t need one shirt for sleeping in, one shirt for working out in, two shirts for the day and another two shirts for evenings. That’s simply excessive, and i’ts a totally unstable way to live as a backpacker. Instead, pick one or two shirts you would be comfortable sleeping, working out, and walking around in during the day, and one more shirt that you could pull off at a bar or somewhat-upscale dinner restaurant.

If you can substitute three specific-use items for one versatile item, always, always do it! It’ll mean fewer things to carry around on your back every day, fewer things to worry about losing, and fewer things you’ll need to pay to have washed. Trust the experts. When it comes to downsizing, maintaining versatility is the way to go.

MORE: Check out our tips on how to choose the right hostel and how to pack for a long haul trip.

Five Reasons to Visit America’s Most Underrated State: New Mexico

1. White Sands National Monument

These incredible crystalline dunes are one aspect of America’s landscape which often goes sorely under appreciated. New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument is 100% composed of rare white gypsum sand, which makes for quite a mesmerizing sight to behold. This dramatic landscape serves as an awesomely unique backcountry campsite, if you’re willing to go old-school (aka without plumbing readily available). Grab a permit from the visitors center, and you’re ready to set up your tent to spend a night among these dazzling waves of white.

As far as how to spend the day, challenge yourself with a strenuous hike leading to striking views, or enjoy family-friendly fun in this 275 square-mile natural playground. Sand boarding, hot air balloon rides, once-in-a-lifetime photographs, and even guided trips to a restricted lake are all in the cards here at the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Don’t skip out on this destination which is, quite literally, like nothing else you’ve ever seen (or will ever see again) on this Earth.

2. Chaco Culture National Historical Park

When it comes down to it, if you were going to stumble into Indiana Jones anywhere in the U.S., this would probably be the place it would happen. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is home to the densest concentration of pueblos in all of South Western America. Arguably, this concentration is also the most jaw-dropping of them all, and it is surrounded by multiple amazing hiking and biking trails. Here, you can expect to witness not only the spectacular architectural remains of the Pueblo culture on a phenomenal scale, but also natural beauty that will utterly astound as you sweat your way through this valley.

This is another spot where camping is the move to make, as Chaco Culture has been officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park. It is regarded as one of the best places in America for stargazing, so after an evening of fireside storytelling beneath a breathtaking sunset, extinguish your flames to participate in an array of night sky programs.

3. Taos Ski Valley

New Mexico steps outside the bounds of it’s typical reputation with this one: Taos Ski Valley. This small village and alpine ski resort is settled in the heart of Taos County, NM, with a shockingly tiny population of only 69 permanent residents as of 2010. The Valley has peaks reaching an altitude of 3,274 ft, which makes for epic skiing conditions on what has been regarded as the highest quality snow in the West.

Good luck becoming bored at this hotspot for adrenaline junkies! There are loads of exciting activities for enjoying here in the cool mountain air. Hit the slopes for a sunrise ski, take a snowmobile tour, freestyle through the cross-country ski area in the Enchanted Forest, or take some lessons if you’re not quite ready to take on the mountains solo. Then, once you’ve thoroughly worn yourself out, visit the resort spa or soak in the Ojo Caliente hot springs to relax your muscles before doing it all over again the next day.

Even beyond the snow, Taos Ski Valley is a great summer location for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors. Visitors can rock climb in the Rio Grande Gorge, hike or horseback ride along Wheeler Peak, or cool off on a hot day by swimming and fishing in Williams Lake. The possibilities are practically endless, and are all right at your fingertips at this awesome destination.

4. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

This is a glorious location for admiring some of Mother Nature’s most astounding architectural work. Located in New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert, the caves themselves (which can be accessed via the steep natural cave entrance, or the wheelchair-accessible manmade entrance) display a massive variety of ancient stalagmites and stalactites–mystically preserved underneath the Guadalupe Mountain Range. Each trail will lead you through multiple well-lit cave rooms decorated from floor to ceiling with stunning rock and crystal formations which have been forming for thousands of years, and now spend their days amazing travelers who make the trek to witness them with the naked eye.

The caves can definitely become a bit chilly after spending long periods of time underneath their depths… which is luckily no problem for those who visit this national park. The park outside of the caves boasts a wide variety of wildlife, brought to the area by Rattlesnake Springs. The desert wetlands serve as an oasis in the region, attracting dozens of native animal species to the site such as jackrabbits, bunnies, mule deer, and an exciting selections of diverse birds for observing. Have a picnic, bring a camera, and enjoy the serenity that this stunning national park so effortlessly provides.

5. Santa Fe, Cibola, Gila, and Lincoln National Forests

With four main national forests to choose from, there’s no question that New Mexico has really got in going on in the nature department. No matter which way you look at it, natural beauty runs through this state for as far as the eye can see.  What makes New Mexico’s national forests unique, however, is the fact that they are littered with remains of human history.

Sure, there are mind-boggling vistas, countless scenic hikes, a dozen immaculate waterfalls, and more wildlife than you could possibly keep track of… but there are also petroglyphs alongside entire cliff dwellings which have been left behind by Pueblo civilizations from the distant past. When you’re camping, off-roading, trail running, hiking, biking, or whatever it is you enjoy doing when out in the wilderness, here in New Mexico’s national forests, you can do so in the most authentic of natural and human history museums. Zipline over the trees that the Pueblo people once walked through daily, or rent a cabin to snooze underneath the same stars they gazed upon by night.

If that weren’t enough, all of your winter favorites are available in some of these forests, too! Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing, and snowshoeing are all activities that winter visitors should absolutely take advantage of in this astounding landscape. When you pack for New Mexico, pack for the world–because in all its diversity, the world is what it has to offer.