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America’s Wild Spaces - Part 7 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

GATES OF THE ARCTIC is in the state of Alaska and has an area of 34, 287 sq km.

This is the place to go for the northern lights and fishing, it was created in 1980.

There are very few facilities, no fees, no tracks and no real rules here. If you’re ready to go for the rugged outdoor wildlife then this is the place to do it. Together with the neighbouring Noatak Wilderness Area, this vast park is the largest contiguous wild place in the US, a vast unchanged Arctic area influenced only by the nature it protects. Wild rivers slice through glacial valleys; grizzlies, moose and wolves roam; the aurora dances across wintry night skies while the midnight sun lights up summer. Gates of the Arctic is named after the two peaks, Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain, which straddle the North Fork of the Koyukuk River. You can arrange to be flown in, then hike across the ridge-tops and tundra, fish in alpine lakes, watch migrating caribou in the northern valleys or camp alongside clear rivers.

What’s the best time to go? Well, the park is open year-round. The best and safest time to visit is June to August unless you are an Arctic explorer. Local air taxis provide flightseeing trips, day trips or overnight camp-outs at remote locations, but you can fly in on floatplanes and spend a week or more exploring here with a guide.

GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS is in the state of Texas and has an area of 349 sq km.

This is the place to go for climbing, hiking and birding, it was created in 1966.

The Guadalupe Mountains are an ‘island in the desert’, a Permian era reef rearing over 1, 500m out of the now dusty wilderness. It’s home to marine fossils, three major ecosystems, eight species of hummingbird and the highest peak in Texas. So put on your walking boots and take to the 13. 5km Guadalupe Peak Trail, which leads to the summit of the 2, 667m Guadalupe Peak. Also known as the ‘Top of Texas’ for its panoramic views of the Chihuahuan Desert. There are also routes through limestone canyons, maple and oak woodlands, and coniferous forests of Douglas fir or pinyon pine. A lot of the trails are also open to horse riders as well. Birders should head for Frijole Ranch and McKittrick Canyon which always has plenty to offer.

The park is open year-round, however, plan your visit for spring, when flowers are blossoming, or autumn for fall colours. The Guadalupe Mountains are 180km from El Paso. It is also close to Carlsbad Caverns, making it easy to combine the two. If you have two weeks, consider flying into Las Vegas, heading to the Grand Canyon, and then veering east into New Mexico and Texas for Guadalupe.

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