8 Favorite Destinations, Year 2

We’ve now been on the road for two solid years. During that time we’ve visited 145 different locations in both North and Central America. Last year we highlighted Eight Favorite Destinations from our first year of travel. With another full year under our belts, it’s once again time to select the best from the last 365 days. Each of the following headlines links back to our original blog post about the destination.

Pictured Rocks, MI

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

If 200-foot, multi-colored sandstone cliffs along a lake of emerald-colored water isn’t how you imagine Michigan, it’s time for a pilgrimage to Pictured Rock National Lakeshore in the state’s Upper Peninsula. It absolutely blew us away with its striking similarities to one of our favorite excursions ever: rafting through the Grand Canyon.

Watkins Glen State Park, NY

Small and spectacular is one way we’d describe the mile-long trail though Watkins Glen canyon in the Finger Lakes region of New York. J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical Elven city of Rivendell is also an apt comparison. Who knew such natural wonders existed a mere 180 miles from where I grew up.

Great Sand Dunes, CO

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Probably more than any other place we visited, Great Sand Dunes National Park shocked us with its pure beauty. It’s a place I don’t think we had previously seen photographed and, therefore, it completely took us by surprise. So much so, we felt like we turned a corner and arrived in another country.

Mammoth Cave, KY

Mammoth Cave

This is the place that popped our spelunking cherry. Prior to Mammoth we had only walked lighted, paved and hand-railed trails through subterranean realms. Their “Wild Caving” tour opened up for us a whole other way to explore these wonderfully varied palaces: in the dark on our hands and knees.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The North Dakota badlands are certainly spectacular, but what makes Teddy Roosevelt National Park a stand-out favorite for us is the park’s campground. More specifically, it is the herd of bison that frequently overrun the campground. Being surrounded on all sides by 2,000-pound horned animals is not an experience we’ll soon forget.

Badlands, SD

Badlands National Park

If we found the scenery of Theodore Roosevelt National Park stunning, and we did, it was just a warm-up for what we encountered in South Dakota’s Badlands. Both parks exhibit miles of twisting canyons dimpled with colorfully striated buttes; but whereas Teddy Roosevelt is mostly rounded and weathered, the Badlands remains sharp, jagged and forbidding. It is probably some of the most beautiful geology we’ve seen anywhere.

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal Guatemala

Looming over the Guatemalan jungle, Tikal stands as testament to the prowess of a once mighty civilization. At the height of its power, as many as 90,000 inhabitants once walked these streets. Of the many ancient Mayan sites we toured during our trip through Central America, Tikal is the Granddaddy of them all and a well deserved addition to any “best of” travel list.

ATM Cave, Cayo District, Belize

actun tunichil muknal cave

The thrill of spelunking ATM Cave in Belize had nothing to do with the geologic formations or the challenges we faced traversing the cave system. What made this experience our favorite of the year was the compelling story of a desperate civilization told by the ancient artifacts they left behind. It also happens to be one of our favorite blog posts.

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89 Comments on “8 Favorite Destinations, Year 2”

  1. karead7 April 30, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    We also did the Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth. Very cool experience!

    • Brian May 1, 2012 at 8:54 am #

      Yeah, it’s definitely an introduction to an entirely new way to see these amazing spaces.

  2. Ingrid April 30, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Thanks to bloggers like you, our bucket list continues to grow :-) Definitely keep Black Canyon of the Gunnison on your list. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Brian May 1, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      Sounds like we’re doing our jobs. ;-) Black Canyon is definitely on the list. We’ll be getting there in the not-to-distant future. Thanks for the tip. Keep them coming!

  3. nadinefeldman April 30, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Ah, the list grows ever longer! These photos made me salivate. Beautiful!

  4. theplaceswevebeen April 30, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Such a great list! I have to visit some of these places.

  5. customtripplanning April 30, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I’m so glad you showed so many awesome locations here in the UNited States. I know this list is based on your own travel, but so many people think “AWAY” when they want to plan a great trip. This country is so large and has so much diversity….an inquisitive traveler can find some place to explore right here at home!

    • Brian May 1, 2012 at 8:52 am #

      It’s true. In the U.S. we have almost an entire continent to explore. There are deserts and lush forests; rocky mountains and sandy beaches; amazing large cities and wonderful small towns. We think it might take four or five years for us to cover most of the highlights. It’s simply huge!

  6. cravesadventure April 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Great Post – loving your photos – thanks for sharing! Have a Great Week!

    • Brian May 1, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      Thanks for your comments and for following our travels.

  7. Atari April 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Love the photos and the recaps, definitely adding to my adventure log!

    • Brian May 1, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Good to hear. Happy travels Atari!

  8. DeanJ April 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Thanks for this list and your great posts about each location. I have added each of these to my map of “Places We’d Like to Visit”.

  9. Tony April 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Reblogged this on ToneManBlog and commented:
    Passing along this great posting from a blog I follow. All I can say is, I want to visit every one of these places! Who’s with me?

  10. Susan Johnson May 1, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing !!! Great places !! Alltho I have traveled quite a bit. Have only been to one of these places. Tikal . Amazing. But, cant wait to see the rest of these treasures. I didnt realize that N and S Dakota are such beautiful spots ! Wow !

    • Brian May 1, 2012 at 8:59 am #

      The Dakotas (especially South with the Badlands and Custer State Park) are pretty awesome.

  11. Jane Jensen May 1, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Awesome photos. thanks for sharing.

  12. danielwalldammit May 2, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    damn! Some of those caves are gorgeous.

  13. debramoolenaar May 7, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    love your pics – especially Watkin’s Glen – you mentioned you grew up close by? I grew up in Williamson, NY (Wayne County on the banks of Ontario near Rochester)!

    • Brian May 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      We’re practically neighbors then! Well, neighbors who live about three hours apart. :-) I’m from Schenectady, originally. But I used to go fishing on Seneca Lake and never knew Watkins Glen even existed.

  14. ouroysterjade May 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    The place I most want to go from your list is Tikal!

  15. Lisa Maria May 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Wow. What you do is so cool! Beautiful photographs!

    • Brian May 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Thank you for the compliments!

  16. J. Mark Souther May 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Wow, Watkins Glen looks stunning! I’ve never heard of it, but now I’m going to try to get over there. Shouldn’t be too far from Cleveland.

    • Brian May 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      Watkins Glen really took us by surprise. It’s not the kind of place you think about when you think NY. Pictured Rock in MI surprised us in the same way. Both really good places that shouldn’t be missed.

  17. Sarah May 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    I’m from western Kentucky, not too far from Mammoth Cave and have several friends that are guides at the park! Although I think I’d like to go to some of the other places on your list, ha.

  18. Gretchen O'Donnell May 17, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    WOW – WOW – WOW! You’ve got great pictures here! What an amazing journey you are on! I’m both envious and tired, just thinking about it!!!! thanks so much for stopping by my blog – I look forward to looking at more of yours!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      PS – we’re on the opposite side of the state from the badlands in SD – I’m just over the border in Minnesota. My other blog – a more local one – has photos of the Sioux Falls water falls if you’re interested – they’re about an hour from our house, over the border and into SD. http://www.theviewfrommywindow.areavoices.com

  19. Olivia Mair May 21, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    I’m impressed you can choose just 8! I have the problem that every place I go is my new favourite place! Lovely shots!

    • Brian May 21, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Ha. Very true. We’re often asked “what is your favorite place” and it really is hard to select just one. It’s a bit easier to talk about several. Certainly some places make more of an impression than others.

      • Olivia Mair May 22, 2012 at 4:18 am #

        Agreed! Congrats on a fabulous blog and for getting out there and doing what I dream of doing!

        • Brian May 22, 2012 at 10:04 am #

          Thanks for your complements. And I encourage you to seriously follow your dream. Take a look at our How To section for guidance or feel free to contact us with any specific questions.

          Happy travels,

  20. rigmover May 24, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Looks like some great destinations, great blog.

  21. writecrites May 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    I’ve traveled extensively in Europe, the Pacific and some in Asia, but your blog reminds me of the fabulous scenery and places we have in our country. I haven’t seen any of these places. Thanks for reminding me that I’ll have to remedy that. Beautiful photos, too. p.s. thanks for “liking” my Travels in Turkey: Food post. It’s how I found you.

    • Brian May 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

      Welcome aboard! We do have some fantastic places in the U.S. And, if you don’t mind, we’ll be hitting you up for suggestions as we increasingly take EverywhereOnce internationally.

      • writecrites May 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

        Brian, feel free to hit me up for suggestions. There’s nothing I like more than talking about travel (except, maybe, photography; but I think they’re even, and fortunately, they’re compatible).

  22. P. K. Newby May 27, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    What do I think? Totally, totally awesome. These photos are *incredible* – thank you SO MUCH for sharing, and for your recent visit & like to Play a Good Knife and Fork. Here’s to many more adventures for you and your wife!

    • Brian May 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words, and for stopping by. Happy travels!

  23. dpalms May 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    I have to return to the US in a couple of weeks after living and traveling around Europe for a year. I’ll admit I was a bit bummed for the travels to come to an end, but after seeing these amazing sights you’ve visited I can’t help but feel I’m going to have my work cut out for me when I get back! Awesome pictures.

    • Brian May 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      There really is tons of great stuff to do here.

  24. Robin Jean Marie May 31, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Incredible photos and an incredible journey! Good for you! :-)

  25. gargupie May 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    I would love to visit Central America someday. The ruins are so ethereal and mystic. :)

  26. Anita Mac June 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Have been to Tikal and loved it. What a magical place. The other places look great too.

  27. Rhonda Sittig June 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    So beautiful. You’re giving me the travel bug! thanks for the post.

  28. daedre1 June 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    Amazing picture of Pictured Rocks…I have spent some time in MI and know that the color of the water can be tropical in color…but this is spectacular…you have inspired me to take a look!

  29. Marty R. June 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Great blog, beautiful photos. Thanks for reading my blog on Granada, Nicaragua.

  30. chaumierelesiris June 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Agree on Tikal – one of hte most amazing places I’ve ever visited. And so much still to uncover.

  31. nomilknocry June 15, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    pretty cool ;)

  32. myfolkshouse June 15, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    totally inspiring

  33. erinslens June 16, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    They look like some really lovely places, and images of course. Have been to Tikal and found it magical. I look forward to one day seeing more of the USA, it’s just such a big country, hard to decide where to go!

  34. The Vision Fairy June 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    What a neat blog! Thanks for visiting my blog and ‘liking’ my photograph! Keep up the good work;)

  35. Bron June 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    On the road for two years – how brilliant! Gosh and those all sound like fantastic experiences too, great photos. Thank you for popping my my blog (a little while ago, I’ve been slow to return the visit sorry!) and happy travels!

  36. samanthastarling June 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Beautiful photographs :)

  37. Travel with Jodi June 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    These photos are spectacular!

    • Brian June 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

      Why thank you. Truth be told, I missed some of the best photo opportunities because I drowned my camera about halfway through the trip. Of course, photos don’t do the Canyon justice.

      • Travel with Jodi June 26, 2012 at 2:30 am #

        Oh no did you?! Sorry about that. Makes me realize all the cool places in America I could have seen somewhere in the 13 years of being there

  38. Aakriti July 12, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    I’m really jealous that you guys can wander around the world so carefreely! I hope I can too one day; but I must ask – where does the money come from?!

  39. Books & Art - Spirit & Soul July 16, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    You both have a wonderful outlook on life, travel, sharing and beauty. I am following your blog to learn more. Thanks, Lesley

  40. cowboysandcrossbones August 14, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    I love your site! Thanks for sharing the world with those of us less traveled. I look forward to your new posts!

    • Brian August 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Thank you. We’ll keep traveling and writing just so long as you keep reading. ;-) Deal?

  41. Arizona girl August 15, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    Thanks for the like on chanceofsun! I love this blog and what you guys are doing with life – fabulous! The goal to “see everything there is to see” is simple, elegant, and very inspiring (and I’ll have to read more on how you actually got there…). I look forward to hearing more!

    • Brian August 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Arizona Girl.

  42. dreamonyall October 3, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    I so understand where you’re coming from/what you’re doing. I bought an RV out-of-the-blue, so to speak, this past summer. My two sons are moving into my house to care for and support it while I spend the next few years traveling, both in the US and out. (already tired of jokes about how will I drive my RV to Asia…). I had no experience with RV’s or the life-style but had no intention of just dipping one toe in the water. I jumped in with both feet, added a motorcycle rack to the back, bought a scooter for alternate transport while on the road, loaded in my 2 cats and dog and hit the road. Been dreaming about doing something like this since I got out of high school. I’m 61 and not waiting a second longer to live the life I’ve always dreamed of. Who knows? the house may end up being sold, along with its contents, so I can keep on traveling
    as long as the body will permit.

  43. Cheryl Kosec October 13, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Thanks for the post! I’m proud to say I’ve been to at least 4/8 of the spots!

  44. adrikaswaminathan October 30, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    these destinations look beautiful!

  45. Jean November 5, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    I guess it’s the wilderness stuff that impresses you most of the time? Or maybe that’s what’s impressive in the U.S.?

  46. lifeBelle December 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    fantastic images :)
    so many places to go…so much to see!

  47. seekingmonsieur December 17, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Thank you for visiting my site and liking, “Send a little love my way.” I enjoyed your photos and have taken notes for my next journey.

  48. Nish January 9, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    Such beautiful photos…really kindles the urge to travel

  49. Megan April 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    These photos make me miss the States :). Gorgeous photos

  50. londoncab53 April 23, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    Love your photos, so many great shots! I especially liked the one on Mammoth Cave, KY. My mother’s side is from there, but I’ve never got to go.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

  51. Kim 24/7 in France May 27, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    Such gorgeous photos and places to visit! Thanks too for visiting my blog.

  52. theresagalgano July 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Watkins Glen isn’t far from where I live… how cool. Can’t wait to check it out.

  53. Marilyn Albright July 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Thanks for liking my sculpture post. I pass this place every time I drive to town, and it’s fun to stop and see his new creations. Your blog looks quite intriguing, so I’ll check it out – have to see if you’ve visited Oaxaca!

  54. Marty R. July 23, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Thanks for reading about Panama City. Love your photos – such beauty.

  55. thomas peck August 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    More places to add to my bucket list! Love the first photo…

  56. laurenmississippi September 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Loved the article – going to visit Badlands in 3 weeks! Can’t wait!

  57. Stephen Birtwistle February 24, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    AMAZING! DId you visit Mexico too? Right next to Belize you will find an incredible place called “The Seven Color Lagoon” and it is unknown to many. We wrote an article about it. I hope you will like it http://blog.mayanexplore.com/2014/02/mexico-is-cancun-and-something-else_18.html

  58. piecz_tki firmowe May 12, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my
    iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so
    she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83
    views. I know this is completely off topic but
    I had to share it with someone!

  59. Latisha June 5, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you might be
    a great author. I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will come back veryy soon. I want to encourage yourself
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