The United States of Outdoor Adventures
There can be no doubt that the USA is a heavily developed country. Sprawling cities dotted with towering skyscrapers and enormous highways clogged with traffic are found from New York to Los Angeles and Chicago to Miami.
But to suggest that city breaks are all the US has to offer would be to ignore the vast tracts of unspoilt land, particularly in the west of country, where you can truly lose yourself should you so wish. It’s not called the Wild West for nothing.
With tens of national parks spread across the county, including Alaska, the opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of city life on a tour of the USA with the likes of TrekAmerica are numerous.
For a country seemingly so intent on development, it’s both surprising and heartening to learn that the USA actually pioneered the idea of creating national parks to protect areas of outstanding natural beauty, when it established the Yellowstone National Park way back in 1872.
Since then, 58 more have been added to the national parks roster covering a total area of 210,000 sq km of protected land – approximately the same size as the whole of Belarus. Clearly then, the USA is far from concreted over.
But it’s not just the size of the national parks that is impressive, but their variety too – from the diversity of the scenery to the wonderful wildlife that roams these landscapes.
Let’s compare for instance one of the most northerly national parks, Denali in Alaska, with one of the more southerly, the Grand Canyon.
Denali is dominated by the snow-capped peak of Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain, whose green foothills are roamed by bears and wolves. It’s a wild, rugged and harsh environment. The Grand Canyon on the other hand is vast gorge, one-mile deep, which is situated in an arid landscape, where spectacular sunrises and sunsets turn the barren rocks beautiful shades of red, orange and purple.
Both are national parks, but they couldn’t be more different – visually, climatically and atmospherically.
And the same can be said if you compare any of the other parks in the USA, whether it’s the iconic mountains and forests of Yosemite versus the legendary geysers of Yellowstone or the stunning geology of Arches matched up to the stunning views in Zion.
But as wild and unspoilt as these places are, they are also remarkably easy to combine with city tours for those who want to experience everything the USA can throw at them.
One of the most obvious itineraries is to head out west to enjoy the thrills of LA, San Fran and Vegas as part of a tour that also visits Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
What better way to clear your head after a night of gambling and partying in Sin City than by watching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon?
You’ll also discover that a place doesn’t need to be labelled a national park to have natural beauty during the drive from LA to San Fran along the dramatic Big Sur Highway, with its plunging cliffs and stunning ocean views.
With so much great outdoors to explore, the time is now to get out there and fill your lungs with some fresh US air – it really does exist!