Grand Canyon’s Phantom Ranch

If you’re hoping to be a guest at one of the most unique properties in the national parks, Grand Canyon’s Phantom Ranch, you have three possible modes of transportation to get there: on a boat as part of a river rafting trip, on the back of a mule, or by the power of your own two feet. And considering this lodging is 5,000 feet and a ten-mile trek below the south rim, it’s no easy journey. But once you arrive at this rustic oasis at the bottom of the largest canyon in the world, any aches and pains accumulated along the journey will seem well worth it.

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Glacier’s Hidden Gem: The Belton Chalet

If Glacier National Park is the Crown of the Continent, its three grand hotels are its most precious jewels. Visitors from around the world book reservations far in advance to stay in these famous park lodges: Many Glacier, Glacier Park, and Lake McDonald. However, a smaller, lesser-known lodge, the Belton Chalet, was the first to welcome guests when the park opened in 1910. We think it’s a hidden gem.

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Gateway Arch National Park

Growing up in Kansas, whenever my family’s summer vacations would take us east on I-70, it was always a thrill to spot the St. Louis Arch from the car. The tallest monument in the U.S., it stands prominently on the edge of downtown St. Louis, towering over the Mississippi River. Back then, the arch was called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, but in 2018 when it became our nation’s 60th national park, the name was changed to Gateway Arch National Park.

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In Search of Methuselah

Last May, on a drive home from Palm Springs to Seattle, we took the less-traveled route along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas on Highway 395. Not only did we get to experience a part of the country we hadn’t seen before, but it also gave us an opportunity to take a detour and visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest just east of Bishop, CA. In our earlier travels through Utah and Nevada, we’d seen stands of bristlecone pines that were several thousands of years old, but the trees in the White Mountains of California are much older, closer to five thousand years.

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Our December Adventure in a Forest Service Cabin

When I first told Matt my idea to rent a Forest Service Cabin in Montana in December, he was skeptical. After he found out that the cabin doesn’t have electricity or water—and would require a half-mile hike from our truck to get there—he thought I was crazy. It seemed to me, though, that an adventure in a cabin in the snowy winter wilderness might be a way to experience the magic of the holidays without all the tinsel and glitter.

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