Banff National Park was a rather new addition to the bucket list having only been added within the last few years. Health issues forced the usual far flung destinations a bit further down the list and this bubbled to the top. And I have to say, a vacation that only involved a 3 hour-ish flight and short car ride (short by our standards – which is to say not really THAT short at all) was a welcome relief. It’s the closest vacation to home we’ve ever taken and also the first time we checked a bag for our flight (really mostly for my medicine, but I did stuff it full of things I would not need anyway because why not?).
Redwood National and State Parks must be the most underutilized and often forgotten about national park in California. It’s a bit too far from major cities, the weather can be unpredictable, and there aren’t many places to stay nearby. For all of these reasons I recommend you go immediately. There’s something unsettling to me when I visit a major national park on a weekend; it’s a bit like Disney meets the outdoors and it all seems wrong. Sure, once you get on a longer trail or off the touist circuit it’s totally fine. But still, having to go through the hordes when you’ve come all this way to get away from it feels so wrong to me. We visited Redwood National and State Parks over 4th of July weekend fully expecting it to be busy, but we came away feeling like we found a hidden treasure. It’s an amazing set of parks and makes for a great long weekend road trip.
The Sierra Nevada got a crazy amout of snow this year so even well into Summer most mountain passes were still closed. Getting to the Eastern side required a couple of extra hours of travel, but we were rewarded with vast emptiness and amazing snow capped mountain views in every direction. The Eastern Sierra is one of my top recommended places in California for it’s varied landscapes, wide open spaces, and easy access to lots of outdoor activities. We based out of Mammoth Lakes this time but took day trips South and made more Northern stops on the way in and out.
Bears, big trees, and some amazing vantage points were the things we most looked forward to on this recent trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. There’s nothing more relaxing than a long walk in the woods with a loved one. Quiet conversations and easy moments of wonder while discovering things both big and small. A tiny spider, a giant pinecone, lush meadows, fallen trees worn away from the inside, that amazing view…it’s easy to get lost in the slower pace.