America is one of the most stunningly diverse countries on Earth, filled with immense natural beauty and countless awe-inspiring landmarks.
Our national parks are some of the world’s greatest, providing endless sights to enjoy, landscapes to wander, and activities to enjoy. Every year, millions of people – Americans and tourists from farther afield – visit our parks, to see the best we have to offer. In fact, 2016 is the National Park Service’s Centennial, and we have a lot to thank them for!
Still, while we all know Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, why not look to the less-obvious options across our country? There are plenty more underrated national parks to explore.
Next time you’re looking for the perfect spot for a little hiking, cycling, or family-time in the great outdoors, consider one of these five underrated sites …
North Cascades National Park (Washington)
North Cascades National Park is a truly incredible spot to visit, with the various areas inside it retaining the names they were given so many years ago.
You will discover Nooksack, Shuksan, Sahale, Skagit, and more, as as well as timeless pictographs left on Lake Chelan’s surrounding cliffs by the Chelan tribe.
This was established as a national park in 1968, and is a popular spot for mountaineers and hikers. Mount Triumph and Eldorado Peak are two of the most common destinations for dedicated climbers, and Mount Shuksan has the park’s second-tallest peak – at a staggering 9,127 feet!
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado)
Based in the San Luis Valley, this was established as a park and preserve in 2004, though it had been known as Great Sand Dunes National Monument since 1932.
This is an unforgettable site to explore, featuring some of the highest sand dunes to be found in all of North America, measuring as tall as 750 feet. There’s plenty to see, with pine forests, six mountains topping 13,000 feet, and numerous wetlands (home to many different flora and fauna).
Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)
Isle Royale National Park was established in 1940, but was classed as a national wilderness area in 1976 before being registered as an international biosphere reserve just four years later. This hugely-expansive site actually reaches to Canada’s Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, at the border between nations.
For anyone looking to camp at a new site, there are 36 campgrounds available, with some fairly remote (accessible by private boats). Meanwhile, the Greenstone Ridge Trail is a popular hiking option, with 40 miles of path leading right across the island.
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (Alaska)
Looking to truly get away from it all? This national park is one of the country’s most remote, with hot springs, lava flows, and other stunning features to enjoy.
This was established in 1978, and lacks the easy access offered by many other national parks. How do you get in? Bush planes, boats, snowmobiles, and even dog sleds are generally used depending on the time of year you visit.
Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
Established in 1929, Grand Teton National Park racks up millions of visits every year (in 2015 alone, it welcomed almost 3.5m guests).
One of the park’s most remarkable features? It retains an ecosystem best-described as close to pristine, home to much of the same flora and fauna which has been there since prehistory. It’s favored by hikers (unsurprising, given its 200 miles’ worth of trails) and mountaineers.
There are over a thousand campsites for people looking to immerse themselves in one of America’s most picturesque environments overnight.
No matter which of these underrated national parks you visit first, you should put plenty of time into researching the opportunities and facilities available. As always, taking the proper supplies and equipment will help you get the most out of your experience, and ensure you remain safe.
For those of us yet to try climbing, it can seem daunting, dangerous, and flat-out scary.
However, with commitment, training, and the right gear, climbing is actually more accessible than you may imagine. While it might not be the best option for anyone who struggles with heights, climbing is otherwise an exciting, challenging way to see the great outdoors.
Here in the United States, there are plenty of stunning spots perfect for climbing. Red River Gorge, Silver Mountain, and Rifle Mountain Park all offer fantastic ascents in picturesque surroundings, spurring you on with the promise of stunning views at the peak.
As a beginner, you’re sure to have your concerns, and may even be a little nervous. This is understandable, and to help you out, we’ve compiled some invaluable expert tips.
Understand that Everyone Falls Sooner or Later
Without doubt, falling is one of the scariest parts of climbing. You can imagine that sinking feeling in your stomach as you miss a handhold or slip, and the world seeming to spin off its axis.
However, you’ll have a rope to keep you fastened securely. If you fall, your gear will keep you safe – but falling is the perfect way to test it out. After all, how else are you supposed to know all that equipment’s doing exactly what it should?
Once you get used to the feel of falling and trust your equipment, you’ll find you can relax and enjoy climbing even more.
Don’t Think You’ve Failed if You Can’t Reach the Top
When starting out on your climbing career, remember to take it easy on yourself.
You may approach climbing with the mindset that not being able to reach the top makes you a failure, but it doesn’t. At all.
Who’s to stop you coming back and trying again someday as your skills improve? Whoever started something new and instantly conquered every challenge?
Focus on learning with each climb, and put this to good use the next time you try that route again. Knowing your limits is vital. If you try to push yourself too far too soon, you may fall out of love with climbing when you’ve only just started.
Spend Time with a Pro
While it’s all well and good learning to climb with your friends, you should invest in some professional classes.
Indoor climbing centers will usually offer courses or tutorials, helping you to learn the basics, how to use your gear, and identify the best routes up a surface.
As with any activity, searching for a shortcut and failing to prepare as you should can lead to problems along the way.
Never Skimp on Gear
Don’t cut corners to save a few cents here and there.
Investing in the best climbing gear you can afford is essential. If you buy a worn rope or a pair of ancient, ripped boots to be thrifty, you may well be risking your safety.
Speak with experienced climbers and pick their brains for recommendations. At Adamant Gear, we stock a variety of climbing pro mountain gear – feel free to get in touch if you have questions. We’re always happy to help.
Riding your bike in the city is exciting, an easy way to stay fit on your commute, and a great reason to explore your urban environment.
But if you never take your pair of wheels beyond the streets you see everyday, you’re missing out.
America is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, and what better way to see it than by bike? There are many different bicycle trails out there, offering fantastically diverse terrain and breathtaking views. Some of these tend to be pretty darn long, and will demand more than just a day’s cycling – but the journey is absolutely worth the time.
To help you stay fit and connect with the great outdoors, we’ve put together five of the best bike trails from across the States …
C&O Canal Trail
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal measures an incredible 184.5 miles.
This runs alone the Potomac River’s north bank, and stretches right from Washington, DC all the way to Cumberland, MD. The canal itself was formed in the first half of the 19th century, between 1828 and 1850.
C&O Canal Trail’s best for hybrid or mountain bikes, and you’ll find camping areas (with all the facilities you need) at regular intervals.
The Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail runs from Denver to Durango, crossing nearly 500 miles of terrain, passing through the stunning Rocky Mountains. You’ll pass by unforgettable creeks, lakes, and more.
This is a real change of environment if you’re used to cycling through urban environments or flat ground. The Colorado Trail’s average height is more than 10,000 feet, though this rises and dips throughout.
It can be pretty demanding on your body, and you’ll need a reliable mountain bike to get from beginning to end. You’re best taking this with someone else who’s tried it before, or invest in a high-quality map and guide.
Take a look at our Double-Wall Alloy A1 Racing Bike, which is just as good for your inner-city cycling as hitting a challenging trail like this.
Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
This beautiful path runs from a mining town close to the Montana border, named Mullan, to a town called Plummer, based within range of Washington’s border. The trail runs 72 miles, and takes in a variety of views.
You’ll see the Silver Valley, the Chatcolet Bridge, Heyburn State Park, and more.
Maah Daah Hey Trail
Okay, so this is a big one.
Rather than serving as just one trail, the Maah Daah Hey is a system of routes offering something for all levels. Choose from the Long X (running 5.8 miles), the Overlook (just 0.3 miles), Maah Daah Hey itself (97 miles), Ice Cave (1.5 miles), and a few others.
There are grassy areas, tougher steep spots, prairies, and more.
The Katy Trail is 237 miles of trail, crossing much of Missouri, with more than half of it following the path trodden by the iconic Lewis and Clark.
This has smooth, flat terrain, and will provide a few days of stunning views – Americana at its best. Thankfully, you can get through this with pretty much any type of bike you prefer.
Needless to say, you must take a good supply of food, drink, spare clothes, maps, and first-aid kits. Research your route, invest time into reading up on other cyclists’ experiences, and take care.