New Mexico has so many natural and historical wonders you’ll have to visit several times to see them all. But if you have a free week, might we suggest that you start in Albuquerque and make a big loop the way we did a few years back. Whether you do this trip yourself or simply join us on this episode as we recount our experiences, you’ll agree that Land of Enchantment is a fitting nickname for New Mexico.
Some of the sites we discuss in this episode include:
Bandelier National Monument – could this be our next national park?
Santa Fe – why this is such a magical place
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument – a must-see natural wonder
White Sands National Park (was a National Monument when we visited it) – why this site is no longer a premier spring break destination for college kids
Smokey Museum and Historical Park – what is it exactly that makes Karen want to hold Smokey’s hand
Carlsbad Caverns – we can’t talk about New Mexico without mentioning its most famous cave system
Albuquerque – in search of The Chicken Brothers and the Walter White residence
Petroglyphs National Monument – you can walk your dog and see thousands of examples of ancient rock art at the same time
When we set out to visit all of the national parks, we drove past countless national monuments on our quest to check all the parks off our bucket list. Thankfully, in the years since we completed our original goal, we’ve retraced a lot of our road trip routes, adding stops at many of the incredible monuments that we missed on our first go-around. While national parks often get most of the headlines and visitors, our country’s 129 national monuments are every bit as remarkable, each in their own way. Established by either Congress or the President, these sites protect our historic places, cultural ruins, and natural, wilderness areas. In this episode, we talk about five of our favorites.
The national monuments we discuss in this episode:
Devils Tower (Wyoming) – why you may or may not want to visit in early August
Cedar Breaks (Utah) – what ancient beings live on the rim of this monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Utah) – what’s so spooky about this place
Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah) – it was the first what?
Chiricahua National Monument (Arizona) – why you might want to stay in your RV or tent at night when visiting this amazing place
Who hasn’t dreamed of seeing the tallest peak in North America close up? Denali, at 20,308 feet in elevation, and its namesake national park are breathtaking to behold. In this episode, we share stories from our two visits to Denali and explain how visitors get into the backcountry on the only road through the park. During our first trip, we let the driver of our green transit bus worry about keeping his wheels on the road so we could focus on taking in the stunning landscape and wildlife. And on a subsequent visit, we booked a Fourth of July stayover at a backcountry lodge only to realize that there would be no fireworks—because it never gets dark. As a bonus, we open with a discussion about the new National Park Service app.
Some of the topics we discuss in this episode:
What do Alaskans do when a moose dies in their front yard—or backyard.
A little history of the park
Why private vehicles are only allowed to drive to milepost 15 in the park.
When and how to get a permit for a once-a-year opportunity to drive farther into the park.
Everything you’d want to know about the transportation system in the park.
What’s the 30% club and how to become a member.
What it’s like to stay in the backcountry lodge in the park.
What park activities are available to visitors in the winter.
Our first all-mailbag episode. Thank you for all the questions and comments you’ve sent to us about our podcast. We thought we’d try something new and dedicate an entire show to answering your questions. It was a lot of fun recording this episode; we hope you enjoy it.
Some of the questions/topics we discuss in this episode:
What are the transportation options to Isle Royale National Park?
How do we stay in shape?
Why didn’t we take the pottery chard we found in Grand Canyon NP to the park headquarters?
Do we ever do outdoor adventures with our adult children?
What’s it like to go to the top of the Gateway Arch?
In this episode we take you with us on a journey to six of our favorite state parks as we talk about what makes each of these parks unique and why we think they’re astounding. With more than ten thousand state parks spread across the country, our list of favorites is long, and we may have to record several episodes about these smaller, but just-as-spectacular public lands. On our original trip to all the national parks, we had little time to visit them, but since then, we’ve made it a point to see as many as we can. Consider this episode a mere sampling of the hidden treasures that await you. (And, no, we are not partial to parks with “Smith” in the name. But they do get our attention.)
Saddle up, partner! Apologies for the corny opening, but—spoiler alert—more horse-related puns are awaiting you in this episode. We’ve taken many treks into wilderness areas in the past ten years, yet most of them have been of the two-legged variety. On this adventure, we let our four-legged friends do the hard part, carrying us (and our stuff) deep into the Pasayten Wilderness of north-central Washington state. As it seems with most of our exploits, there were a few bumps in the trail that we didn’t anticipate. But by the time we ended our four-day, three-night trip, we were ready to do it all over again. We just needed a few days for our butts to stop aching.
Some of the topics we discuss in this episode:
What it was like to ride a horse for the first time in 25 years
The curious suggestions we got from friends as we were preparing
The unique characteristics about each of our horses
The magnificent setting of our camp and the details of camp life
Why our horses deserted us and how we got them back
How it felt to wake up in a frozen tent in August
Our amazing daytrips
And, it wouldn’t be a Matt and Karen adventure without a guest appearance from an oh-too-familiar slithery companion