TRIPS THAT ROCK
Marfa is a walkable Texas destination where you can enjoy live music, star gazing, film festivals, art galleries, mystery lights and small bites from local eateries. Wake up in the morning for a mountain hike and then cool off in the afternoon at one of the beer gardens in town. Stay in a tepee or yurt at El Cosmico for the full experience. And don't forget to check out the Marfa Lights!
Big Bend is home to a few remarkable communities: Marathon, Study Butte, Terlingua Ghost Town, Lajitas, and Big Bend National Park. There are countless activities; we suggest hiking Santa Elena Canyon, driving the Ross Maxwell scenic drive, renting a canoe along the Rio Grande River and taking a swim at Balmorhea State Park. Accommodations run the range from convenient and comfortable to resort luxury. We love the charm of the Gage Hotel in Marathon.
Behind the elegant shops and fine dining, you can feel the authentic German soul and see reminders of the city's heritage in the historic buildings along Main Street, the German cuisine at restaurants, and the welcoming spirit of the locals. The main event? The surrounding Texas wineries. We highly recommend the 290 Wine Shuttle for getting around the wineries safely. While there's a few different accommodations, we suggest taking advantage of rental websites such as Porch Light.
Hamilton Pool is a gorgeous swimming hole located in Dripping Springs, but its breathtaking natural beauty makes you feel like you’re so far from home. This gem of a pool is actually a collapsed grotto with beautiful blue-green water, surrounded by awesome rock formations and also boasts a 50-foot waterfall. Hamilton Pool Preserve also has numerous hiking trails where you can spy rare plant species or birds such as Golden Cheek Warblers and Cliff Swallows.
Located in neighboring New Mexico, Carlsbad Cavern is a must see in any lifetime. This park protects 119 known caves, creating a phenomenal underground world of gigantic rooms covered in spectacular rock formations. There are self-guided and ranger-guided tours available. Stay at the historic Trinity Hotel in Carlsbad, housed in a renovated bank from the 1800's.
Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. The most popular activity, as you can imagine, is sledding on the dunes. While there are limited hotel options nearby, there are lots of charming AirBNB choices to check out!
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is home to the tallest dunes in North America, creating a mind-boggling, desert-like landscape surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Head to Medano Creek for tubing and beachside activities in the late spring and early summer. Minimal light pollution allows for a clear dark sky, which is ideal for stargazing and nighttime photography. These sand slopes are the perfect spot for sandboarding and sand sledding, as well as hiking or even backpacking.
While the Maroon Bells are touted as the most photographed place in Colorado, pictures simply don’t do the peaks justice. Located just 10 miles west of Aspen, the natural landmark is so popular, there is restricted access to the area during the summer and fall. Autumn is an especially dreamy time to visit, when the Maroon Bells are cradled by cloud-speckled blue skies and golden-hued aspen groves. The best way to see the Maroon Bells is to take the public bus operated by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
Hanging Lake is a Colorado treasure and a rare example of a travertine geological formation located in the heart of Glenwood Canyon on the White River National Forest. Not for the novice hiker, the 1.2 mile (1.9 km) trail is steep, rigorous and rocky but rewarding. This Natural National Landmark features awe-inspiring scenery and gentle waterfalls. The Hanging Lake trail is a backcountry hike and requires permits and reservations.
Old Faithful may be more famous, but the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is the most photographed thermal feature in Yellowstone. That's because of its crazy-bright colors and enormous size. It is the park’s largest hot spring and a must see if you are visiting Yellowstone National Park. As a national historic landmark, Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility in the park. Currently closed, the inn hopes to open again later in 2020.
Kanab, Utah is classic American West, surrounded by towering Navajo sandstone cliffs and vistas of sagebrush. Try your luck and join the enthusiastic crowd standing in line for a permit for The Wave, the iconic sandstone formation in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. Or visit Bryce Canyon National Park for almost equally spectacular views. After a long day of hiking, rest in luxury at Canyons Boutique Hotel.
Zion National Park is like the set of a movie that’s so grand you know it’s fake, but you don’t care because it’s delicious to look at. Located not far from Kanab, this popular hiking destination also offers ATV, cycling, canyoneering, and horseback riding adventures. Favorite hikes include Angels Landing, Observation Point, and Emerald Pools. If the weather is mild enough, we love the idea of glamping with tour companies like Under Canvas.
If you're looking for wide open spaces, but not thrilled about outdoor activities, seek out the ultimate in luxury at Amangiri, a 600-acre sanctuary of wilderness and isolation in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. Your stay comes with privileged access to National Parks and Lake Powell, but you may not want to leave the resort. Extending over 25,000 square feet of the desert, Amangiri’s destination spa looks out over the sublime tranquility of American Canyon Country and is the perfect place to unwind in solitude.
Few geological formations are as picturesque and awe-inspiring as Antelope Canyon, a magnificent slot canyon just east of Page in Northern Arizona. With tall winding walls, it’s a monumental sandstone sculpture. A photographer’s dream, the canyon is known for its wave-like structure and the light beams that shine directly down into the openings of the canyon, creating a supernatural appearance. Currently closed, but the park hopes to open again soon, so check the site frequently for updates.
A social media darling, Horseshoe Bend, located not far from Antelope Canyon, has become one of the most recognized and visited places in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The hike to the overlook is a gentle slope of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round-trip over flat terrain. The trail is wide, easy for low-impact walkers, and accessible to wheelchairs. It has two shade stations along the way.
Many people think of Lake Tahoe for skiing, but there is nothing more gorgeous than this lake setting in the Summertime. Enjoy spectacular views, breezy mountain hikes, kayaking, biking, and more! Spend some time relaxing at one of the many spa retreats or hang out in a local restaurant or brewery. You can't go wrong with North or South shore, and we love Basecamp for lodging!
The classic drive through Big Sur, along twisting Highway 1, offers plenty of pullovers at places like the iconic Bixby Bridge. While many of the sites are closed until California lifts the stay at home order, the views are worth the wait! Want a short hike with a huge reward? The ½-mile round-trip Waterfall Overlook Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park could be the biggest-bang-for-not-much-work hike on the planet. The cliff-hugging Post Ranch Inn is a must-see hotel!
Each spring, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve comes alive with the seasonal surprises of the Mojave Desert Grassland habitat. The duration and intensity of colors and scents vary from year to year. The wildflower season generally lasts from as early as mid-February through May, with a variety of wildflowers creating a mosaic of color that changes daily. Eight miles of trails through the gentle rolling hills, make the park a wonderful place to hike and explore any season.
If you are looking for a relaxing vacation on a clean beach, look no further than Key West. The
southernmost point in the United States is famous for watersports, lively nightlife, beaches, historic sites and its pastel, conch-style architecture. Walking tours of Key West are the best way to see the island's intriguing homes, courtyards and gardens, including the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. For accommodations, we adore the old-meets-new style of the Marquesa Hotel, located in Key West's Old Town.
It’s no secret that Cades Cove is a favorite destination for many people visiting the Smokies in Tennessee. If Cades Cove was its own National Park, it would be the third most visited national park in the country! The Cades Cove scenic drive, which is one of the most popular activities in the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is an 11-mile, one-way scenic loop, allowing you to soak in breathtaking scenery and wildlife within the safety of your own car. Stay with The Wandering Llamas for a truly unique experience.
Want to receive more local tips, plus Houston living + real estate news? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter below.