Gateway Airport: McCarran International, Las Vegas, NevadaThis circle tour connects the best of the California desert with the high peaks and giant trees of the Sierra Nevada. Find breaking adventure news, gear reviews, adventure photos, expedition updates, athlete interviews, and survival stories at our blog.
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Global Travel Editor Costas Christ offers up an ecotourism report card on destinations around the globe. If navigating the hairpin turns along 11,312-foot Monarch Pass doesn’t take your breath away, pull over for a view of the Continental Divide.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is 234 square miles of the Sahara plopped into Colorado. National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article.
NGA e-NewsletterSign up to get our latest photos, trip sweepstakes, and videos in your email in-box. This 83-mile (134-kilometer) route—running from Bend, Oregon, to Sunriver on Oregon 372 and County Roads 46 and 42—can be driven in three hours, but take your time and enjoy the unparalleled Cascades scenery.OverviewIt's been 1,300 years since lava oozed out of the peaks of the Cascade mountain range, but the volcanic landscape of central Oregon's high desert plain still conjures up prehistoric visions of bubbling calderas, exploding mountain tops, and rivers of molten lava.
I’m sorry, while your list is has good essentials (sarong is a great one), and it is lighthearted and fun, is this really Nat Geo worthy?? Shannon, i just follow ur instagram and wondering one thing, what provider you usually used to travel ??
Must be nice to not need a closet full of meds, integrate numerous doctor apts, carry a first aid kit, not need a tampon, etc. I agree that the notebook, camera (not that one though), and iPhone are definitely the top three when traveling. Iphone, yeah, but with energy embedded for one day, your road trip becomes … shopping trip to the supermarket, not more.
About Intelligent TravelNational Geographic believes that to know the world is to change it. Alaska's Kenai Peninsula is the Bermuda Triangle of the Arctic: Spend a few days wandering its glacier-etched fjords, towering peaks, and cobalt streams, and you may never leave. The Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, Arizona, is a makeshift Americana museum where visitors can see a collection of roadside memorabilia from historic Route 66. They say driving Route 66, the iconic 2,400-mile road connecting Chicago with Santa Monica, sneaks us into a bygone America, an era of neon signs and mom-and-pop diners.
You can see how it earned its star status if you take it slow rather than "scoot and shoot" (local parlance for snapping photos from car windows and zooming off). The family-run Cozy Dog Drive In has been serving corn dogs, or what they call hot dogs on a stick, in Lincoln's hometown since the '40s. Illinois Funks have been selling their hand-tapped “sirup”—as syrup without sugar used to be known—from their grove of maples here since 1891, offering a rare Route 66 souvenir that actually predates the road.
Before making the drive across the Mississippi into Missouri on the Chain of Rocks Bridge, walk it.
Over the past 40 years, the Delmar Loop, located a couple of miles off the road, has transformed from a drug den to an entertainment district with an eye on the past. Missouri's limestone bedrock is dotted with over 6,000 caves, but the most popular one is hard to miss. Across the tracks from downtown, the revitalized Brady District gives the best sense of Tulsa's 66 era. A highlight of the approximately 120-mile, land-hugging ride between Tulsa and Oklahoma City is Stroud's Rock Cafe, which has been here since the '30s, returning from a 2008 fire with gusto.
Before Route 66 came around, over 2,000 trailblazers passed this way, carving their names on the base of a 200-foot-high sandstone questa. The 85-mile stretch of Route 66 bends (and bends) past sagebrush, rugged mountains, and ranchland before passing a '57 Corvette and a couple dozen old cars. For "a truer sense of being alone," per Route 66 writer Tom Snyder, take the wild road west from Kingman past saguaro cacti and loose boulders.
A plaque for the Will Rogers Highway in Santa Monica's Palisades Park marks Route 66's unofficial end—the real one was buried by a freeway ramp at Lincoln and Olympic Boulevards. The peaks—there are ten above 14,000 feet—are too gnarly for the ski resorts and hubbub found farther north. Post-paddle, drag your soggy bones to Salida’s West End Cafe for some homemade pasta and an Avalanche Ale.
Trek to the top of 750-foot Star Dune—the tallest on the continent—but keep your shoes on: While air temps stay in the 80s through August, the sand gets nearly hot enough to fry an egg (not recommended). Yet just 20 miles (32 kilometers) away is a contrasting land of thick forests—mostly Douglas fir and hemlock—and glistening lakes full of native rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.
Even if I’m miles from the nearest coast, I want to make sure I can take advantage of any body of water that crosses my path. The Olympus mini PEN is tailor-made for trips: It’s small, but has interchangeable lenses that give your photos that professional edge. I keep it with me as an extra precaution — though I’ve never had to use it, and hope I never will! Sometimes, I don’t want to stop for a full-blown meal when there are miles to cover, so I bring snacks. I always bring a few books: a couple of old standbys for when I’m longing for something familiar and a few new ones that unfold alongside my own journey (Wildebeest in a Rainstorm is a recent favorite). One thing I have in the car next to my water bottle is a large fruit cake that you can purchase at any supermarket.
It was intended as a fun and lighthearted piece for travelers to who like to get a little off the beaten path. Agreed that social media is great for keeping parents at ease and feeling like part of the adventure.
I do most of my traveling in the mid-west, power snacks and good books are an ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE! We're on the front lines of travel that illuminates, celebrates, and preserves irreplaceable places—and we're taking you along for the ride.
Other highways crossed the country too, but only the "Main Street of America" had John Steinbeck's attention (with The Grapes of Wrath), an iconic soundtrack—"(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66"—and the ability to continue winning new hearts (via Pixar's Cars). Built in 1929 with a unique 22-degree angle partway across, the bridge faced an uncertain future not too long ago.


The hub is Blueberry Hill, a buzzing, pub-style joint with memorabilia (original Beatles dolls, vintage jukeboxes) and a good burger.
Advertised by painted barn tops along Route 66 (and I-44), the 4.6-mile Meramec Caverns has lured road-trippers since 1935. Owner Dawn Welch, who inspired the Sally Carrera character in Cars, once chose to live in Stroud over Costa Rica.
A handful of 66-era motels and diners prove the point, along with the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, a modern collection featuring donated knick-knacks.
You can stay in rustic New Deal-era cabins that lured Route 66 travelers of old; plus, in summer there's a fun cliffside production of Texas, sort of the state's rebuttal to Oklahoma! A good place to start is the historic coral-and-sky-blue Blue Swallow Motel, a 12-unit place with a cozy courtyard to take in the big sunsets.
At El Morro National Monument, a detour via Hwy 53 from Grants, you can see Native American petroglyphs of bighorn sheep, birds, and lizards that date back seven centuries. This is the Hackberry General Store, a makeshift Americana museum run by Tacoma transfer Thurston Pritchard.
It leads to a terrifically weird place: Oatman, an old gold-mining town that persists only because it's gone camp. He grew up in Tulsa and regularly takes Route 66 to Oklahoma City because it's so great—and to beat the $4 toll.
Wichita has emerged from its bustling cow-town era as a progressive, attractive community touting some nationally significant sights, including the Old Cowtown Museum, where 19th-century Wichita is re-created, and the Wichita Art Museum, with its important collection of works by Charles M. The human history is equally fascinating, and the park’s high country is a cooler alternative in the summer months.
Instead, a two-lane blacktop winds its way through alpine meadows, swift rivers, old railroad towns, and North America’s highest sand dunes.
Grab a map at Take A Hike gear shop, then hit Comanche Lake Trail, a 7.8-mile loop through elk and bighorn sheep country with sprawling views of the Wet Mountain Valley. Weaving through a classic Cascades landscape, the Scenic Byway passes massive volcanoes, murmuring streams, forests of awesome evergreens, lava flows, glittering lakes, and meadows full of wildflowers.Start in Bend Head southwest out of Bend on Oreg. I constantly use it jot down the juicy insider tips I learn from friendly folks along the way — a curious traveler’s bread and butter! It’s perfect for nights when I want to enjoy the natural world, or when I roll up somewhere and there’s no vacancy.
While it’s tempting to grab a Snickers bar, I know it will bring me crashing down quicker than I can say “Hungry?
After realizing there were no gas stations, no small villages, no other cars – nothing at all for miles I started calculating in my head with the amount of water we had and i remembered forgetting to buy salted nuts or potato chips. A couple of our items overlap but I discuss all types of tricks and tips as well as gear essentials.
You should linger to (digest and) take in the Robert Crumb-inspired artwork of the road by late family member Bob Waldmire. Fortunately, Trailnet converted it into a walk-and-bike trail, connecting riverfront trails in both states.
Its biggest claim to fame comes once monthly, when 87-year-old hometown hero Chuck Berry plays the basement Duck Room. Also here are marks left from Don Juan de Onate, the colonizer who conquered the pueblo at nearby Acoma.
About 50,000 years ago, a meteor about half the size of a football field crashed here, leaving a nearly mile-wide crater you can tour on a guided hike.
In 1998 his parents—big-time collectors—spotted a house filled with snakes, rats, and "hippie" artist Bob Waldmire. Descendants of abandoned burros beg for carrots (sold locally), staged gunfights appear daily (at gift shops), and you can eat at the 1902 Oatman Hotel (supposedly frequented by Clark Gable).
Just past San Bernardino, as the cityscape takes over, this kid-friendly motel is the best of the three remaining "wigwam" motels that appeared in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. The sarong is the most versatile; it dries quickly and can go from beach towel, to dish towel, to skirt, to headscarf all in the same day.
And even if you ignore their infamous sign ("Do it in a teepee"), it's worth stopping for a night. Don’t Miss: A walk into the Narrows of the Zion River beginning at the Temple of Sinawava showcases the essence of the park. Legendary Dodge City, television home of Marshal Matt Dillon, has metamorphosed at least twice—from bison-hunter outpost to wild cattle-trail terminus to sedate agricultural community.
Out on this frontier, you even straddle the Continental Divide—a rugged, windblown rendezvous where East meets West. Almost immediately, you start climbing into ponderosa pine forests characteristic of the drier east side of the Cascades as you cross into the Deschutes National Forest (tel. I did not tell my children but I was icecold inside although the desert heat by my own foolishness.
I agree with Michael, most rental cars nowadays come equipped with GPS, as do all smart phones… as for the comments which suggest bringing a Knife or a whiskey bottle? Inside you'll see Waldmire's parting gift, a wall mural of Route 66 and a ceiling's worth of donated license plates (the snakes and rats are gone). The pillared building has been under renovation for years and reopens in May 2014 to eventually receive wee-hour Amtrak trains.
You’re surrounded by canyon walls of fiery orange-red sandstone as high as 2,000 feet and as narrow as 20 feet as you slosh in the chilly Virgin River (warmest in summer or fall) and pick your way along its banks. The route between these towns features such hometown attractions as the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area—notable stopover for North American shorebirds—and sites related to the old Santa Fe Trail.Overview This 240-mile (386-kilometer) drive leaves from Wichita, travels north to Newton, then cuts west and north to Hutchinson, Lyons, and Great Bend before dipping back south to Kinsley and Dodge City. Native people has taught us, while us making road trips to Turkey and Greece many years earlier, to always bring both water and salt while us visiting places as Olympia, Efes and Cappadocia in hot summers. With Alaska Sea Kayakers (ASK), you can paddle close enough to Blackstone to see the ice explode before you hear its booming clap. End the day at Whittier's Swiftwater Seafood Cafe, a favorite of the ASK crew.Day 2The Harding Icefield Trail climbs 4,000 butt-kicking feet (1,219 meters) in just four miles (six kilometers). Located in Sim Park, this 17-acre (7-hectare) living history museum re-creates the Wichita of the 1870s, right down to plank sidewalks.
The payoff: a perch atop Exit Glacier, with the 300-square-mile (777-square-kilometer) Harding Icefield spread before you. The time frame follows the arrival of trader Jesse Chisolm, who in 1864 brought some 3,000 cattle north from Texas, establishing the Chisolm Trail and Wichita as a major shipping point. Oddity: Crawford Arch, also known as Bridge Mountain Arch, is a long, thin, freestanding sandstone arch (156 feet long and 3 feet wide) high on Bridge Mountain.


Native American culture, art, and technology are the focus of the nearby Indian Center Museum at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. Traditional artifacts and contemporary art are combined with information on the history and culture of the Wichita, who guided Coronado into Kansas in 1541 and gave this city its name. The Virgin River is too cold to wade in winter and spring, and snowmelt in spring can cause high water levels in it and other park rivers. Across the street, the Wichita Art Museum houses an excellent collection of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century American art.
Late summer rains can bring flash floods, so always check with the visitor center before hiking in any park canyon.Bryce Canyon National ParkIs it geology, fantasy, or fantastic geology? Yosemite National ParkYosemite’s famed valley is the natural nave of a granite cathedral—woods and meadows and the Merced River are framed by towering faces of granite over which tumble roaring waterfalls. Bryce’s signature hoodoo formations shimmer in shades that Revlon would envy and in forms that that look like animation—sandstone spires carved into fairyland shapes, amid which you feel like the alien visitor. Russell's works includes Russell paintings of Western scenes and some of the handwritten and illustrated letters he sent to friends. Around the corner lies Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, where you can wander through a formal Elizabethan garden, tracts of sunflowers (the Kansas state flower), and a wildflower plot with prairie grasses. Downtown, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum presents Wichita's history from the days of bison hunts to the modern era.
Just north of Lone Pine off US 395 is Manzanar National Historic Site, where more than 10,000 Japanese-American citizens were interned during World War II. Joan Miro's huge mosaic mural "Personnages Oiseaux" greets visitors at the entrance to the Ulrich Museum of Art. Rangers and docents provide telescopes and guided tours of the night sky on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. This museum features changing exhibits of contemporary artists and an absorbing collection of 20th-century and modern (mostly American) art.Hutchinson Leaving Wichita, head north on I-135 to North Newton.
A full moon may wash out some stars, but full-moon hikes into the canyon (no flashlights allowed) are one of the park’s most popular outings. Here the Kauffman Museum tells the story of the Mennonite settlers who came to the area from Europe in the 1870s. Jaw-Dropping Viewpoints: In a park rife with inspiring viewpoints, Paria View might be the best—particularly late in the day when towering hoodoos catch the day’s last long rays and glow in brilliant shades of red. You're greeted by a full-size model of the space shuttle, complete with a clear explanation of how the heat shield works. Cross-country skiers can ski above the rim only, while canyon trails are open to snowshoers or hikers who use traction devices (available at the park store) on their boots. The museum also offers a live rocket science demonstration, a planetarium, a space museum with lots of space suits, and the Apollo 13 command module. For a more earthbound attraction, head south on Plum Street to the small but attractive (and free) Hutchinson Zoo.
Walk along the rim at sunrise or sunset, or descend at least partially into the canyon’s depths. Displays here focus on Kansas wildlife, such as American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, bobcats, and coyotes. Built in 1905 and renovated in 2005, the hotel has classic national park ambience—the main lodge has a swarthy, log-cabin feel—and a perch near the canyon’s south rim.
56 and keep an eye out for a roadside marker for the largest village of the fabled Quivira. In 1541 a Pawnee Indian known as "the Turk" told Francisco Vasquez de Coronado that in Quivira "there was so much gold . Hopi and Mohave Points on Hermit Road (accessible by park shuttle, by bicycle, and on foot) are fine spots to catch either event.
Jaw-Dropping Viewpoints: Every view of the canyon has its own distinct light, shading, and perspective on the canyon’s intricate geology.
And don’t miss the obvious: Mather Point near the main visitor center, a sweeping viewpoint that is among the park’s most popular. Father de Padilla returned to Quivira as a missionary and eventually gained dubious distinction as the first martyr within the boundaries of the present United States. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing amid giant sequoia trees are compelling experiences, but the road between the two units closes in winter, so to visit both units requires out-and-back trips via other roads. Start at Hermits Rest and follow the Hermit Trail to the Boucher Trail to Dripping Springs, hiking beneath sheer cliffs to a lovely spring nestled within an alcove of Coconino sandstone. This large natural sink is a critical migratory-bird stopover where some 45 percent of the North American shorebird population lands each spring.
From Moran Point, you can see the Vishnu Basement Rocks, oldest in the canyon, and a formation called Sinking Ship.
Climb the observation tower for an overview of the area, then drive the nine-mile loop through the refuge's wetlands and pools. Oddity: As you gawk at the canyon, observe its many rock layers, for these are the canyon features that most excite geologists.
Unlike the other major western trails, the Santa Fe Trail was a two-way route, taking goods from U.S. Nine original stone buildings remain, along with a reconstructed blockhouse and a barracks.
56 southwest to Dodge City, at one time the baddest town in the West and home of Matt Dillon, Wyatt Earp, William "Bat" Masterson, and a host of other Western good and bad guys, real and imagined.
The main venue here, Boot Hill Museum and Front Street, presents Dodge in its legendary boomtown era. At one corner lie the remains of a famous Boot Hill Cemetery, where both miscreants and victims were buried in shallow graves.
The museum clears up the confusion between a sheriff and marshal, and discusses the careers of Assistant Marshal Wyatt Earp and undersheriff and sheriff Bat Masterson. In summer, shootouts and other entertainments are on tap, or catch the Dodge City Trolley for an overview of the town's western heritage.



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