10 Favorite Destinations, Year 3

Glacier National Park, Three Arches, Going to the Sun Road

Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun; so much so that it is impossible for us to believe that we’ve really been on the road for three full years. But it’s not all fun and games, you know? With great travels comes great responsibility. And so we once again find ourselves confronted with the hard task of selecting our favorite destinations from the past 365 days.

Our previous “Best of” lists can be found here (Year 1 and Year 2)

Moab, Utah

Moab Utah Landscape

Moab’s scenic beauty is enough to warrant a spot on any “best of” travel list. Within a short drive of the small town are two distinct national parks (Canyonlands and Arches) as well as a spectacular state park (Dead Horse Point). The area is so overflowing with attractions that these parks can’t even contain it all. Along ordinary back roads we encountered landscapes that would be considered national park worthy if they were located in any other part of the country. In addition to all that, though, Moab also happens to be the perfect place for an inaugural skydive.

New York, New York

New York City Skyline at Night

The twice named city lives up to its reputation for outsized awesomeness. It’s a place we (or at least I) never appreciated as a travel destination when I lived there (Shannon reminds me that she always knew better). But now that we get the opportunity to return as tourists, I see the city in a completely new light – exploring old favorites, and uncovering lesser known gems as well.

While we’re on the topic of old favorites, we can’t mention New York without also giving an honorary salute to our beloved hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

It is often called the “Crown of the Continent,” and for good reason too. With vaulting granite peaks soaring two miles high and ice carved valleys bejeweled by 762 lakes that sparkle like diamonds and sapphires in the mid-day sun, Glacier National Park is every bit a crown fit for a continent.

Yuma, Arizona

Yuma Arizona Balloon Festival

A surprise entry on this list, we were lucky enough to visit Yuma during their annual balloon festival – an event that completely overwhelmed us.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park, Tower House, Cliff Dwelling

A millennia ago Ancestral Puebloan People settled in the canyons of southwestern Colorado and built a remarkable city. Today, the remnants of that metropolis are protected within Mesa Verde’s 5,000 archaeological sites which include some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the world.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellow Stone National Park, Abyss Pool

Offering far more than just a water spout named “Old Faithful,” Yellowstone is probably the most diverse national park in the system. Beyond the “normal” natural beauty typical of such places lies otherworldly landscapes and pools of such unnaturally radiant color that they have to be seen to be believed.

 

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Upper Antelope Canyon, Light Beam

It is hard to overstate the magnificence of this narrow, 600 foot long stretch of earth. Carved by water and pierced by bolts of sunshine, Antelope Canyon has to be one of the most remarkable places on the planet.

Lamani, Belize


The extraordinary Mayan ruins of Lamani near Orange Walk, Belize, were among the highlights of our Central American excursion. But the long-dead city couldn’t hold a candle to the energetic spider monkey who took control of our vessel as we sailed along the New River toward the site.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon at Sunrise

Over the past three years we’ve visited 79 national parks and monuments. Bryce is our favorite, but not solely for its stunning scenery. What we enjoyed most about the park is the way its towering hoodoos and dusty trails made us feel as if we were walking through another era, perhaps along the corridors of an ancient Egyptian city.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Utah

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Utah

Best Friends is not only the largest no-kill animal shelter in the United States it is also a movement dedicated to the realization of a simple goal: “No More Homeless Animals.”

For the past 29 years Best Friends has worked toward that goal, in part by sheltering roughly 1,700 animals on its sprawling 3,700 acre property, training them to be good pets, and working tirelessly to find them forever homes.

 

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40 Comments on “10 Favorite Destinations, Year 3”

  1. Crystal Valente April 29, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Awesome, I’m planning a trip to the US at the moment so there’s a few more things to add to my list 😉

    Like

  2. Peter April 29, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Fun Entry! One that inspires future plans.

    We’re still trying to get our brick and mortar house sold so that we can get out in our 32′ Winne Journey fulltime. After a seemingly endless 16 months we think we’ve got a buyer.

    It’s fascinating the way “favorites” and “dislikes” are so intensely personal. It’s easy to think that a place is a place is a place and if I like it other people will too. Of course that’s hooey. Nothing is universally popular, or unpopular, but I’m always amazed at how an opinion by a blogger can be seen by some readers as a personal affront to their own taste or attitudes. Personally, I love hearing WHY people like what they like. I’ve long thought that our writing — any writing — from shopping list to magnum opus — says more about who WE are than what we are writing about.

    I sometimes look at other rigs parked nearby and wonder, “why would anyone want to travel like that?” or “to there…” or “with them…” — and other campers have pretty much said the same to me about our choices.

    I’m sure we’ll be hitting most of these places ourselves, in the next few years as we wend our way North and South and Westward. We’ll take a pass on NYC. So many people in such close proximity doesn’t hold much appeal to us.

    Keep up the interesting story.

    Cheers,
    Peter
    A retired photographer looks at life
    Peter Pazucha dot Com
    Life Unscripted on WordPress

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 11:08 am #

      So true about our likes and dislikes being intensely personal. But too often people claim not to like food they’ve never eaten and places they’ve never visited. Far better, in my opinion, to try everything with a completely open mind and let the thing speak for itself – like NYC, perhaps. 😉

      Like

      • Peter April 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

        So true Brian. I know I’m still trying things I’ve never tried before. The world would be so small if we never challenged ourselves!
        P

        Like

  3. Animalcouriers April 29, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Nearly all of your photos are in our image bank (brain) and it’s lovely to see the ones you’ve chosen appear again. What a year. Onwards and upwards!

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      Thanks for following along!

      Like

  4. Jenni Gate April 29, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    We just got back from a vacation to Moab (Arches), Mesa Verde, and Bryce Canyon, amongst other places. I wanted to go to Antelope Canyon after seeing the amazing photos you posted of it a few months back, but we couldn’t fit it into our trip this time. So, we have to go back to the Southwest another time! Thanks for posting your favs. 🙂

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      If you wanted to get to Antelope Canyon on a separate trip, you could combine it with some time on Lake Powell; maybe a day in Monument Valley and/or a trip out to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Lots to do in the area. Enjoy.

      Like

  5. Laura Hilger April 29, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Awesome-keep it up! I loved looking at the other years as well. It’s amazing how much of western U.S. I haven’t seen yet; it’s great to get your suggestions!

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      What’s amazing is how large the U.S. is. We’ve been at this for three full years and have mostly just hit the highlights.

      Like

      • Laura Hilger April 30, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

        No kidding! So much to absorb. I love reading about your progress!

        Like

  6. www.travelwithkevinandruth.com April 29, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Great photos, love the one of Bryce Canyon. Never been there ourselves, but it’s on our list!

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Hey guys. Not only is Bryce worth the effort, you pretty much get Zion too because you’ll likely pass it on the way.

      Like

  7. cravesadventure April 29, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Loving your post – great captures – thanks for sharing your Top 10:) I have Utah on my travel bucket list and hope in a fews years time can check out some of the parks. Happy Monday – Happy Traveling!!!

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      You can take a great road trip through southern Utah and hit all the major parks on one trip. With more time you can even do a loop that includes the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and – of course- Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

      Like

  8. Pat Bean April 29, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Beautiful spots. I’ve been to all but Belize and think you chose well.

    Like

  9. alphathread April 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Thanks Brian & Shannon for your (and for us) very timely post. In October my wife and I will be visiting the US and have already planned to visit 5 of the places you mention above, plus others you have written about in previous posts. I always enjoy following your stories. Travel opens the eyes and broadens the mind. It also awakens the realisation that while superficially people from different places are different, underneath they are really the same, with similar hopes, aspirations, and love of family, friendships, community and shared values. Creating Top 10 lists is difficult, somewhat superficial, but fun all the same. In the process fond memories are recalled and relived. May your travels continue to bring you joy. Chris G (NZ)

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Thanks Chris. Glad to help. Have a good trip.

      Like

  10. Cowboys and Crossbones April 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I love reading about Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. And, I love your list! Hopefully I will be lucky enough to visit your favorite spots one day. Cheers!

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Best Friends is definitely a highlight of our trip. We’re planning to make time to volunteer there again.

      Like

  11. Deano April 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Utah, what a wonderful place 🙂

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      It’s probably the prettiest state of the lower 48.

      Like

  12. andytallman101 April 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Excellent post! Your writing and pictures are always good, but it’s great to get a best of every now and then.

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Thanks. I think these kinds of posts are helpful and maybe even necessary. Because of the blog format older posts get buried quickly and it’s difficult for new readers to navigate through all the old content. These “best of” posts help to highlight some of the stuff they’ve missed and also serve as a reminder for the rest of us.

      Like

  13. Jason April 30, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Hi Brian, Thankyou for yet another inspiring top ten. We are booked for the last 13 day oar trip of the year with Arizona River Runners and will be staying at Marble Canyon the night before we depart. Thankyou for highlighting Antelope Canyon, I am now working out the logistics to squeeze this into the itinerary. From my research so far it would appear that the lower canyon may be a better option due to less visitors at that site. It would seem you did very well to take those stunning photos without evidence of the maddening crowd… We would really value the insight from your experience. Cheers, Jason.

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Hi Jason,
      You’re going to absolutely love your rafting trip – it’s still the best trip we’ve taken. With respect to Antelope, we only did the upper canyon so I can’t compare the two. My understanding is that the lower canyon is longer and because it requires stairs and some bouldering it does draw smaller crowds than the upper. Much of the photography you see is shot upwards to avoid the crowds so they’re not that disruptive. Still, it helps to be able to setup your shots quickly because opportunities for clean captures don’t last – that’s probably true in both canyons. Whichever you choose, I’m sure it will be awesome.

      Happy travels,
      Brian

      Like

  14. Ingrid April 30, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoy hearing why and what other folks find as a favorite. And your photos are stunning. I look forward to year number 4 on the road 🙂 I believe Alaska is calling?

    Like

    • Brian April 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

      Yup, both Alaska and Hawaii are on the agenda for year 4. Should be another good one.

      Like

  15. earthriderjudyberman April 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Excellent destinations and photos. Thanks for sharing, Brian and Shannon. I’m betting you’ll love Alaska. We did. The Northern Lights is just awesome. Enjoy.

    Like

  16. George Hardwick May 28, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    I love all of the U.S. destinations being in here. Its surprising how many Americans dont make it to their national parks, when they are some of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Nice post!

    Like

  17. vagabondvirginia July 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I didn’t even know about most of these amazing US places existed! It inspires me to travel my country even more (I’m trying stray away from always going abroad when I get the chance to travel). Also, I really admire ya’lls choice to become nomadic travelers. Too many people get too caught up in working and not living so props to both of you!

    Like

    • Brian July 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      Thank you. We also mostly traveled overseas before this trip. We’re really glad we finally took time to explore the U.S. It’s such a big, diverse, and amazing country.

      Like

  18. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap September 27, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    Visiting Best Friends has been on my bucket list for a long time. Now, I’m more determined to make it there. Lovely post. Paulette

    Like

  19. travelecstasy December 26, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Hi, I’ve nominated you for the sunshine award! Keep on blogging!
    http://travelecstacy.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/sunshine-award/

    Like

  20. jessica729 February 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    So many beautiful places in the U.S. that I have yet to see! I’m very happy to have stumbled upon this blog. I’ve done a decent amount of traveling in life (mostly in the Caribbean and Europe) but now that I have moved to Spain I am starting to realize that I didn’t explore my own home country before leaving! Although I foresee myself staying in Europe for quite some time, I will certainly be using my summers to see all the wonderful things the good ol’ U.S. of A has to offer. This blog is definitely a great place for me to start getting some ideas of where to go.

    Thanks and happy travels!

    Like

    • Brian February 4, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      Glad to help. Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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