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With only about 300,000 inhabitants, Anchorage is the largest city of Alaska. As it is often the case in the US, the largest city is not necessarily the capital (which is Juneau). There is not all that much to see in the city centre except for typical American things such as malls, restaurant chains, big cars, and numbered streets perpendicular to lettered roads. A must do is to go to the coastal trail. In the summer, you can walk or cycle, in the winter hike or cross-country ski. It gives great views of the "skyline" of the city, the surrounding mountains and bay and on a clear day you can even see Mt. McKinley (6,194 m or 20,320 ft.).
Antelope Island State Park
Believe it or not, Salt Lake City is actually situated on one of the biggest salt lakes in North America. Traditionally attracting tourists due to the large Mormon population, the salt lake contains a number of state parks with Antelope Island being one of them. Only recently a causeway was built that allows easy access from the outskirts of the city to the giant, hilly island in the middle of the salt lake. Surprisingly, antelopes are not the most populous animal on the island but Buffalo, with a heard of 800 residing on the island. There are also large bird colonies and smaller animals including mice and rodents that will get into your car at night if you choose to stay, which is possible. Make sure you close all opened food, as mice are not the best company while trying to sleep.
Buckskin Gulch slot canyon
Just north of the border between Arizona and Utah, there is a wonderful area filled with canyons and red rocks. Here, you'll find Buckskin Gulch. Apparently, it's the longest slot canyon in the world. It's about 32 km (20 mi.) long, and most of it is a narrow canyon where the walls in one place reach as high as 150 m (492 ft.) up on each side.
There are a few hazards, snakes and floods. Snakes you can always deal with, but the flood is worse. Always check with the nearby ranger station about the weather before entering. They can also give you lots of good information about the whole area. Most people park their vehicle at Wire Pass and walk from there.
© Demelza Howard
Ever wanted to fry some eggs on the bare ground? Then Death Valley is the place for you! The second hottest place on earth with summer temperatures up to 56.7° C (134° F), and ground temperatures rising up to 94° C (201° F), Death Valley is also the lowest point in North America 86 m (282 ft.) below sea level. Here you will find a diverse landscape of beautiful sand dunes, salt flats, natural marble canyons, mountains and remnants of ancient salt water lakes with unlimited back country hiking and camping. There are also ghost towns to explore, and disused mineral mines that barely lasted a year or two due to the harsh climates (and yet Native American tribes have been living here for 10,000 years). You really need your own vehicle here, and preferably a 4WD if you want to go back country as there is no public transport. There are a few tiny tourist towns with amenities, and a few designated trails, but you are free to go wherever you like here.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park is mainly a summer attraction. During winter, the park is closed for the biggest part but this means also that there won’t be thousands of people visiting at the same time as you. At the visitor centre you can borrow snow shoes and ski poles for free and you can go snow shoe hiking. A great hike is to the top of Mount Healy from where you get beautiful views of the park and its mountains. If you are lucky, you can see moose either along the trail or along the access roads to the park.
The tourist facilities right by the park are closed in winter but in the nearby town of Healy there are several places to stay and restaurants which are also open in winter.
Diving with turtles
Puako Marine Reserve, Hawaii
If you like snorkelling or diving, Puako is the place where you will find serenity in Hawaii. A healthy, protected marine reserve awaits you under the water. Literally hundreds of turtles live along the reef, and they congregate in specfic areas for their cleaning. Along the reef, you can see turtles allowing schools of fish to eat all the parasites off their shells, an amazing site to see. White tip reef sharks, morey eels, and garden eels are also frequent residents of the Puako Reef.
Dog mushing is a true Nordic and fun experience! There are several ways to learn or try mushing for the first time. You can try it on and around the Chena river in Fairbanks. If you take a tryout tour, you will get your personal instructor who will get the very-eager-to-run dogs and sleds ready. There will be a team of about ten dogs strapped in with two sleds behind them, the front one for the guide and the rear one for you. The dogs listen to the commands given by the mushing guide: "how" is left, "ghee" is right. When the breaks are released the dogs speed off but after a while they get into a more chilled pace. When you are talented and the guide trusts your skills, you might even be allowed to ride the front sled and steer yourself.
Kiluea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
In Hawaiian beliefs, Pele is the God of Lava. Pele has been very busy for many years on Kiluea Volcano. Arguably the most active volcano in the world, Kiluea has been growing the size of the Big Island for over 40 years. Since lava is continuously flowing into the ocean, seeing this phenomenon is a very special experience. The best way to get there is to drive to the end of the H-130 and park in Kalapana. Walking along the ocean cliffs is amazing because it allows you to see all the past flows. The trail literally winds through recent birthplaces of the earth. On arriving at the active flow, the view is unbelievable. As the river of lava enters the ocean, steam rises into the sky. Depending on how active it is, on entering the ocean, sometimes lava explodes into the sky. Be sure to bring plenty of water and some thick soled shoes because the ground is hot and can melt your shoes.
Giant sequoia trees
Sequoia National Park, Sierra Nevada, California
Sequoia National Park has some of the largest trees on earth. Most people travel here to see the famous General Sherman, which is the largest tree on the planet. However, a walk in the so called Giant Forest, is equally impressive, because you'll come up close to some of the fallen giants. They are hundreds of years old, and to just look at the roots and walk along the massive trunks, makes you realise the enormous size of these trees.
If you do the walk in the early morning, you'll be able to enjoy the scenery alone, but look out for black bears. They are very used to humans and not afraid of you. But if you walk slowly away, after taking a photo of course, they'll leave you alone.
Golden Gate Bridge
Marin Headlands State Park, Marin County, California
If ever visiting San Francisco, one of the best ways to see the city is to take a drive north across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands. The windy, scenic road brings you to breathtaking views of San Francisco. The road will also bring you to Rodeo Beach, which is a great place to spend an afternoon. The Headlands is filled with abandoned military installments that were manned during World War 2. Keep a lookout for rabbits, foxes, coyotes, and an abundance of deer! The Marin Headlands is the best place to watch the raptor migration in the months of September and October.