America’s Wild Spaces - Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Black Canyon Of The Gunnison is located in Colorado and is 124 sq km in size. The park was created in 1999 and is best known for its spectacular lookouts and rim trails.
This park doesn’t have quite the scale of the Grand Canyon so why go. Well, the answer is the sheer 600m high walls, which are some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet. They flank a 19km stretch of the Gunnison River are possibly more dramatic, at some points, when the gorge is only 12m wide. You may think that the ‘Black’ of the parks name alludes to the colour of the rock but it is really the lack of light in its narrow depths. This does make it tricky to access, but fabulous to look at. Kayaking, climbing and hikes down to the riverbed are the preserve of experts here. However, two roads provide awesome overviews: the more developed South Rim Road has 12 viewpoints, some accessed by short hikes; the North Rim Road is wilder and offers the best perspectives. The park is open year-round. In winter, North Rim Road and some of South Rim Road are closed, but cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are possible on South Rim. The park is around 400km southwest of Denver. So if you are going here then a loop of Colorado’s other wild places could be a good plan. You can link Rocky Mountain NP, Black Canyon, Mesa Verde, the San Juan Mountains and Great Sand Dunes NP into one spectacular trip.
Olympic State Park is located in Washington State and is nearly 4000 sq km in size. The park was created in 1938 and is enjoyable for all types of hiking and coastal walking.
This park is a real jack of all trades. It incorporates a wide range of habitats from the glacier cloaked highs of the Olympic Mountains to moss-covered temperate rainforest; its wild Washington coast section, which is separate from the main bulk of the park, is dotted with tidal pools, driftwood and Native American settlements. The park is circled by Highway 101 but only a few roads go any distance within its boundaries, so you will need to explore on foot. There are plenty of day hiking trails as well as tougher backpacking options. A hike from the Dosewallips park entrance gives you spectacular views of Mount Anderson. In the Pacific section, go along the 27km South Coast Wilderness Trail. This is for the more able hikers as it involves climbing ladders, fording creeks and waiting out tides, but the payoff is access to some of the park’s most impressive shores. The park is open year-round, though some roads and campsites close outside of the summer months. Olympic is just west of Seattle so you could use this as the start of a two-week road trip. We have done Seattle to San Francisco, via Olympic, Portland, the Oregon coast, Redwood NP and finally Napa valley.
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