By Mary-Frances W.
Life-changing memories sometimes come from short-lived “highs” – or so many guests have told us… like the friendship born when two solo travelers met (over a fear of heights) on a tramway headed 10,000 ft.+ straight up over the Rio Grande. There are views that “wow” across North America, but experiencing them with fellow travelers can present life-long inspiration in unexpected places.
To name a few favorites:
|1. Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Stunning scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Canada and the Adirondack mountains come together on New England’s tallest peak – the 6,200-ft.-plus summit of Mount Washington, where guests visit the observatory that has been keeping watch on extreme weather patterns continuously since 1932.
|2. Greenwich Peninsula, Prince Edward Island
Sandbars, rolling red dunes and vivid skyscapes stretch for miles along the shores of Prince Edward Island National Park; they are home to long spiky grasses, wild roses, delicate shorebirds, red foxes, and scattered white spruce – all under threat from sea levels steadily rising over time.
|3. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Wyoming
The 1,000-ft.-deep Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, created by the erosive forces of the Yellowstone River, offers stunning canyon vistas and the sounds of water plummeting down twisting, sheer rock cliffs at its Upper and Lower Falls (twice the height of Niagara Falls).
|4. Mount Hood, Oregon
Snow-covered Mt. Hood reigns over dense forests and clear mountain lakes. It is the highest point in Oregon, an active volcano, and the fulcrum of the Columbia River Gorge with slopes that lead down to foothills dotted with orchards, vineyards, wildflowers and roaring Multnomah Falls.
|5. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska
Splendidly isolated and enormous, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is home to grizzly bears, caribou, mountain goats, long-horned Dall Sheep, streams, rivers, icefields, over 150 glaciers, and some of the tallest mountains in the world – including nine of the highest mountain peaks in the United States.
|6. Iao Needle & Valley, Maui, Hawaii
Shooting 2,000 ft.+ straight up above a valley of lush exotic plants, ferns, streams and pools, Kuka’emolku (known as the Iao Needle) is a striking pinnacle of rock, clad in green. Considered sacred by ancient Hawaiians, the “needle” was thought to stand guard over the valley and served as a steep lookout for its warriors.
|7. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, New Mexico
Just northwest of Taos, observation platforms on one of America’s highest bridges allow visitors to gaze between 500 and 600 ft. straight down, way down, to the narrow ribbon of water heading to the Gulf of Mexico; straight ahead are the wild and remote Taos Mountains.
|8. Moraine Lake, Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Named after a moraine, a rock pile deposited by a glacier, Moraine Lake is a small but stunningly blue lake surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Not far from Lake Louise, the lake is crystal-clear – surrounded by a string of spectacular, snow-laced mountain peaks and forested slopes.
|9. Flume Gorge, New Hampshire
The “Flume” is a granite gorge in the heart of the White Mountains; its walls rise up to 90 ft. in height. Gravel paths, and a wooden walkway suspended alongside its cliffs, guide visitors through a chasm with crystal clear streams, two covered bridges, waterfalls and mountain views.
|10. Muir Woods, California
North of the Golden Gate Bridge lies one of the last stands of coastal redwoods – many over 600 years old – protected, at Muir Woods National Monument. The soft light filtered by the trees together with moist air nurture a ground cover of sword ferns, mosses and wildflowers in early spring. The tallest redwoods are over 252 ft., the widest over 14 ft.; the views up are amazing.