Looking for Next Destination

Old Sep 17th, 2014, 02:05 PM
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Looking for Next Destination

I'm looking for the next destination. I've been to Yosemite, Banff, Jasper, all 5 NP in Utah, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons.

Main interests are photography, wildlife viewing and spectacular scenery. Hiking is fine (starting to do shorter and easier hikes) but mostly a means to see scenery and/or wildlife..

I may take my granddaughter who's also a photog. She has her own DSLR camera. On our recent trip to YNP & GTNP her favorite things were photographing wildlife and the challenge of Mt Washburn. So I have to keep those things in mind.

Of course, we could always go back to Glacier for spectacular scenery and the challenge (for her) of Iceberg Lake and wildlife in Many Glacier and Logan Pass. I'm not opposed to going again.

But, something new might be an idea.

Rocky Mountain NP. My concern is that the hikes are long and the altitude quite high. She did fine at Mt Washburn in YNP but I'm also thinking about my self. I've also read that there isn't that much visible wildlife. That could be very wrong.

Great Smoky Mtn NP. I've read that it's always cloudy there and it's actually considered to be in a rain forest. The park is 95% woods. That probably confirms the weather. Also I've read that while there's wildlife, it's mostly in the woods and very often not visible. That could be very wrong.

Comments about these places and possibly others would be greatly appreciated.

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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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It is not "always cloudy" at GSMNP but you are correct, there are a lot of wooded areas and no, IME there isn't going to be a lot of "wildlife" running around visible and it certainly will not be the same kind of wildlife you may have seen out West.

I'm not sure why you insist that things are "wrong" as opposed to not to YOUR liking.

Perhaps you need to think other countries at this point.
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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 03:39 PM
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We just retuned from the mountains of northern Colorado. They are unbelievably beautiful. I was glad to get back to sea level in Seattle, but the elevations were well worth the views.

When we visited Rocky Mountain NP a few years ago, the mountains were on full display. On this trip they were obscured by clouds and rain one day and fog the next.

Fortunately, Colorado has much more to offer. On this trip, we especially enjoyed Loveland Pass, the drive up Mt. Evans, Independence Pass, Glenwood Canyon, Lookout Mountain near Golden, and the Colorado National Monument. Many of the small towns have done a good job preserving their historic buildings.

You can't go wrong by purchasing a Colorado guidebook to help you plan a trip there.

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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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Have you been to SW Colorado? Mesa Verde NP is so special and the entire area is amazing. Chaco Canyon, Durango, Taos, Santa Fe....
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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 05:01 PM
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RMNP definitely has some short/easy hikes with great scenery, especially on the east side. There are a few short/moderate hikes on the tundra as well, and some moderate length but not super difficult hikes that result in some great scenery.

There aren't really any hikes that I can think of where the payoff is wildlife though - for the most part you will be hiking to a lake or waterfall or just a mountain view. The wildlife are generally seen in the meadows or along the roads. Elk are everywhere, you will almost certainly see mule deer, and moose, coyote and bighorn sheep are seen less often but with some regularity.

It's definitely higher elevation than the other parks you mention. You'd want to give yourself some time to acclimate and start with the easier/warmup type of hikes to see how you react. There's also a decent shuttle route along Bear Lake Road - if you two wanted to split up so she could do a difficult hike while you did an easier one, you'd have the ability to do so fairly easily in that area.

I know from various topics that you don't do difficult - the altitude isn't going to get any easier as time goes on so I'd say visit RMNP now and try to do as much of the moderate hiking as you can. The short/easy stuff will always be short and easy.
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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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How absolutely wonderful. I perceive you may have "rubbed off" you photography to your DGD.
I think the Smokeys could be wonderful. It isn't "always" foggy/cloudy as someone else said.
There is also "heritage" nearby--literally close off the Parkway.
I will be interested to see what you also offer to your GD0-it could also be "way of life" in the mountains, crafts,
It isn't always wildlife.
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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 08:50 PM
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You obviously misunderstood what I wrote.

I never wrote that anything in any of the parks is "wrong". What I was asking if maybe what I had read is wrong.

I think my daughter got the photography thing from me and passed it on to her daughter (my granddaughter).

= = = = = =
The reason I'm placing a high priority on wildlife is that I took my daughter and granddaughter to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in late July.

What she liked best was photographing wildlife and the challenge of hiking to the top of Mt Washburn. She also liked climbing above Grand Prismatic Spring to get an elevated view and part of the day at Artist Point where they both spent a couple of hours painting in front of an audience.

What she liked least were the geysers and hikes that were not a challenge.
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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 08:56 PM
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Gorgeous photography from the Smokies - at least the lower corner of it (not the park)

What about Acadia NP? That would be a great choice.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 01:45 AM
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GC is a good option but I'd say that Vegas is also a place worth looking at.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 04:22 AM
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there are vistas in the GSMNP. There is wildlife. It is called "smokey" for a reason--wispy. Sunrises can be spectacular. Hikes can be challenging but not overwhelming. There is also the Nantahala Gorge nearby for water excitement.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 05:04 AM
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For something different, I think that Debit's suggestion of Mesa Verde NP would be fun/interesting for her. You can climb into the ancient ruins, hike on petroglyph trail etc. We did see some deer but not many other animals there.

If you went south and visited Bandelier NP you would get to see a different kind of ancient dwelling. We like hiking in a section of Bandelier called Tsankawi which is about 5 miles closer to Santa Fe. A short drive west is Valles Caldera where we saw elk in rut one September, which was awesome,but not last year.

Of course for very different views, go to Arches and Canyonlands. If you click my name, you will find a TR last year that did a loop from Albuquerque to Mesa Verde to Arches and Canyonlands to Bandelier/Santa Fe and back to Albuquerque to show friends the area. This did involve some driving and wasn't to do lots of hiking but you could extend the times in the areas you wanted to hike more.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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I'll look into some of these ideas.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 01:25 PM
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Just my two cents: The Smokies offer some challenging hikes. There are plenty that offer substantial elevation gain.

Look at http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/difficulty.htm and scroll down to the end for the hardest of hikes. But there are plenty of moderate hikes, too, that are sufficiently challenging. The biggest challeng in the Smokies is finding a road less traveled. I don't enjoy hiking with the masses, so we prefer some areas of the park over others and look for trails that offer "solitude."

I've seen plenty of deer and bear there, especially in the Cades Cove area. Plenty of birds, too. For me, the joy of the Smokies though is in the details (although there are lovely views as well). Spring is especially nice because of the abundant wildflowers. They make for a great subject, but you gotta think small rather than big.

From a wildlife standpoint, we saw little in Acadia, Canyonlands, Arches or Zion, although I love each of those parks from a hiking and photography standpoint. I just wouldn't bet on seeing a lot of wild animals. It's hard to beat Yellowstone, Glacier and the Tetons for wildlife. It sounds like your DGD is school age. If not, I might suggest a fall or winter visit to Yellowstone when wildlife viewing is really at it's prime.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 03:29 PM
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Well, if you are looking for alternate suggestions I would look at Mt. Rainier and Olympic, Big Bend and anything in Alaska.

Alaska would be at the top of the list for scenery and wildlife.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 03:45 PM
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I also have been something of a photographer in my day, and my son and daughter in particular love it now--and perhaps a grandson.
animals are thrilling. The idea of Mesa Verda is excellent--practice some composition in the various venues.
There is a lot to photography.
and I can get real "caught up" on the geysers also--not all that wonderful/static.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 04:22 PM
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There's elk in Maggie Valley/ Cataloochee area -
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 04:54 PM
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Have you been to the high country in Yosemite? I know you weren't crazy about The Valley, but Tuolumne Meadows and the surrounding High Sierras are a completely different kettle of fish. Much of the Eastern Sierra is amazingly beautiful and majestic. It is my favorite place to hike. Bodie, the ghost town is a photographer's dream.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 06:27 PM
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I just wanted to chime in and say that every time I've been to the Cades Cove area of GSMNP, I've encountered wildlife. We've seen more deer than you can count, turkeys and other birds, and once, a mama bear and her cubs.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 09:51 AM
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Having been to many of the same places as you, I think the 2 best places are YS and Glacier, and we would probably go back to Glacier first for the abundance of wildlife. Being said, the window to travel there is smaller and I understand since we went 5 years ago it has grown tremendously in popularity. Please share what you decide to do as wildlife photography is what we thrive on most ourselves. Perhaps I should join! Fantastic photos!
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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The Pacific Northwest is one of our favorites. You could do Olympic, Mount Rainier, San Juan Islands, and Seattle.

Olympic has 5 or 6 major areas. First is the coast. I would imagine she would find tidepooling there interesting. Second is the Mountains(Hurricane Ridge specifically) Next is The Rain Forest. I would spend a little time at Lake Quinault and Crescent Lake. Sol Duc Falls and Sol Duc Hot Springs are both interesting. You would need a min. of 3 days here.

Let me mention a couple of other places. The Columbia River Gorge near Portland Oregon is really awesome for really cool waterfalls. I mean tons of waterfalls. You could do a bit of the coast, plenty of things in Portland to do, Crater Lake, Mt.Hood, and Mt. St Helens.

San Juan Islands-The main attraction here is Whale Watching, IMOP. You could do this in a day or maybe spend the night. Your granddaughter would probably find the Ferry interesting too. Lavender fields are neat there.

Mount Rainier. To me Rainier blows Colorado(we've been to Colorado many times) off the map. You often Mention High elevation as being a challenge. At Rainier you would be below 8,000 feet. At RMNP, expect to really really really feel the altitude. I think you need 2-4 days at Rainier. We've been to Rainier twice and I hope to go again. It's that good to me(some people may not see it like I do, but its a good one).

Seattle. You need 2-4 days here. I would suggest the Space Needle and Pike Market for sure.

Ive been to the Smokeys 4 times and actually may go again this year. I don't really get the draw though. Nothing there truly in the spectacular category in my opinion. I think the reason a lot of people like it is because there is the National Park and then there is Pigeon Forge. I like both parts, but nothing is a TEN in either.

If you happen to go to Mesa Verde and want to splurge consider www.soaringcolorado.com. I swear you would love it. Older people and any age would love it. I've done several zipline, this one blows everything else away.

All of the places I mention do not come close to wildlife in YS, Tetons, or Glacier. We did see a bear at Rainier. Now there is a lot of sealife on the coast tho.
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