America’s Wild Spaces - Part 6 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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CANYONLANDS is in the state of Utah and has an area of 1, 366 sq km.
This is the place to go for mountain biking, 4WD-ing, rafting and was created in 1964.
The Colorado River isn’t responsible for only the Grand Canyon. In Southern Utah, this creative waterway has carved a dramatic array of rust-red gorges, buttes and pinnacles that have been collected into the Canyonlands National Park. The park contains four districts. The Island in the Sky, a lofty mesa with magnificent views over the park’s plunging depths, is the most accessible, and easily seen via a scenic drive; this is also where you’ll find the 160km White Rim Road, a mountain bike heaven. The Needles is named for the striped Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominates the area and is ideal for day hikes and there are also several campsites here. The burnt orange canyons of the Maze are remote and best for wild multi-day 4WD adventures. The River regions offer both calm floats and, below the meeting of the Colorado and Green rivers you can have a more raging raft experience.
What’s the best time to go? Well, the park is open year-round. However, temperatures are at their most pleasant in spring and autumn. The summers are hot and can be stormy. The high water for the best rafting is from May to June.
Canyonlands is just south-west of Moab and 400km south of Salt Lake City. The best plan is to include it in a two to three week Four Corners road trip. This will let you absorb the Wild West landscapes and Native American culture of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
MAMMOTH CAVE is in the state of Kentucky and has an area of 1214 sq km.
This is the place to go for cave tours, history and boating, it was created in 1941.
This is the world’s largest known cave system with over 645km of passages, grottoes and underground oddness. Human remains dating back over 4, 000 years have been found inside, suggesting man has always been curious. Luckily, taking a look inside is now much easier. There are a range of guided cave tours, of differing strenuousness, that visit pits, passageways and rock formations. The six-hour Wild Cave Tour is the most hair raising, as you get a chance to crawl and squeeze through usually off-limits areas. If you are claustrophobic then the park also offers surface adventures. You can paddle on the Green River, which helped sculpt this landscape into subterranean Swiss cheese or explore by bike or on horseback. The Mammoth Cave Hotel offers an in-park alternative to camping.
What’s the best time to go? Well, the park is open year-round, though activities vary by season. If you want to miss the peak crowds then try to give June to August a miss.
Mammoth Cave is 145km south-west of Louisville. You could combine the caves with music tour by flying into Cincinnati (Ohio) and out of Atlanta (Georgia), and driving via Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga.
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