Looking for Next Destination

Old Sep 25th, 2014, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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We began doing parks about 10 years ago when our daughter was age 10. I've been to about 40 of them and my wife and daughter have been to about 35. There were 3 or 4 trips that we didn't all go together.
My wife and our daughter would both rank Yellowstone as their favorite. We all like the Utah Parks. My daughter say Arches is her all time #2 favorite. I rank Yosemite very high, but I don't think the two of them do. My wife like Glacier and she really liked Rainier.

Each park is special in its own unique way. We've even spent 3 or 4 days in places like Big Bend and Guadalupe. So, I'm not sure you can go wrong. I must say, I'm a bit surprised that your granddaughter wasn't wowed by the geysers though. I find them very impressive.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 11:39 AM
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One of my favorite memories of the Smokies is of mama black bear and her two cubs sitting by the side of the road and watching the people oogling them (from our cars, of course).

The Smokies are very cloudy during and right after rain. But at other times, no more cloudy than anywhere else. I think you could probably get some good photos but, as spiro says, nothing as dramatic as some of the parks in the west. Things in the east are just more intimate.

Big Bend would also be a good choice for photography, particularly eagles.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 12:07 PM
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I guess this trip is about 1st of August next year?
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 05:58 PM
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Ok. Let me explain a bit.

For me I'd like to start taking it a bit easy on the elevation and steepness of hikes. I don't mind being in elevation but I want to start taking it easy with the uphill stuff.

If I were to be going alone, wildlife is always good but not the end all and be all. Scenery is important as well.

My granddaughter turns 8 in October. I took her and my daughter to Yosemite three years ago but she really didn't do much under her own power. She remembers the ranger kid hikes and walking under Yosemite Falls with me.

When I planned the recent Yellowstone, Grand Teton trip I didn't know what she'd like. So I planned some of everything. Unfortunately she and her mother stay up late playing games on there tablets/Ipads, etc and then sleep in a bit. I got up early and saw most of the wildlife although they saw a fair amount.

I also told them about a hike I did when I was in Yellowstone a few years earlier. Mt Washburn. I told them I didn't expect to do it again. A few months later she told me she wanted to try that hike I had told them about.

At the end I reviewed everything to see what she liked and what she didn't.

For some reason she had little interest in the geysers. Maybe because we walked all over the Upper Basin for the whole afternoon.

She was more interested in the climb to the elevated view of Grand Prismatic Spring than the actual view itself. I think it was the challenge.

She appeared to get tired and partially lose interest during ordinary hikes.

Mt Washburn was probably less of a "hike" and more of a challenge. She never complained and stuck with it thru hail and rain.

When we saw wildlife she got really exited. The camera came out, the telephoto lens went on and she was in heaven. I kind of had to restrain her a bit. I think she was under the impression that she had to introduce herself and shake hands before photographing them. Either that or she though it was their eyeballs she was photographing. Maybe it was the thrill of climbing a hill to get closer.

If it's me alone I could be very happy with an Arches, etc. But if she's involved I want to make sure there's a very good chance of wildlife.

I've been to Glacier twice. She'd probably do very well there. I could turn the Iceberg Lake and Hidden Lake Overlook hikes into challenges.

Mountain goats around Logan Pass, bears near Many Glacier Road and deer and moose at Fishercap Lake would probably make her happy.

However, I'd like to try something different while I can if possible.

It's almost tempting to take a quick trip (3 days) in October to GSM and spend time in Cades Cove and Greenbrier. Then I'd have an idea if I should plan something a bit longer.

I've read all of the posts above and will reread them in the next few days. I'm not just interested in trips with my granddaughter. I'm looking at various possibilities.

Thanks for the ideas. Keep them coming.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 07:01 PM
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Just be mindful that GSNP is packed in October. Except when Cades Cove is closed to traffic, expect crowded conditions.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 07:49 PM
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I wish I could go back and correct the typos in my last post.

You're correct. Many people there. I was told that on normal days they don't open Cades Cove until 8 or 9. Not sure. Why do they close it?

Why is October so crowded? Getting close to winter and bad weather?
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Old Sep 26th, 2014, 01:21 AM
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"Why is October so crowded? Getting close to winter and bad weather?"

Because it's the most beautiful/ most popular time of year = fall foliage.


"Primary roads such as US-441 (Newfound Gap Road), Little River Road, and the Cades Cove Loop Road are open year round, weather permitting. Click for information about temporary weather and construction related road closures of these roads.

Secondary roads are subject to seasonal closures. Seasonal opening and closing dates for secondary roads are listed below:

• Balsam Mountain Road
Open May 23 - November 2, 2014.

• Cades Cove Loop Road
This road is closed to motor vehicles on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 a.m. from May 7 through September 24, 2014 to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. Otherwise the road is open daily from sunrise until sunset, weather permitting..."

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Old Sep 26th, 2014, 03:45 PM
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Myer, I think you would have a fine time at Smokies. However, it is nowhere close to Yellowstone, Glacier, or Yosemite in my opinion.

Several good easy short hikes. Abram Falls, Grotto Fall(you can go behind this one), Laurell Falls. All of these would be in the asy category compared to other hikes you have done. Cades Cove you are likely to see turkey and deer. Could see a bear(we have not on our trips there). We did see a bobcat, but we actually have those where we live.

We actually saw more wildlife on a trip to Shenandoah than the Smokies. Both are somewhat similar. Your granddaughter would likely enjoy a day at Pigeon Forge area(something totally different than a park).
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Old Sep 27th, 2014, 07:45 PM
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It's been ages since I visited the Smokies but I would love to go back. Beautiful scenery, lots of waterfalls, etc. Not sure whether your grand-daughter would enjoy this place as much as some other options though.

I have visited Rocky Mountain National Park more recently, and I usually see moose and elk. We tend to see the bighorn sheep and mountain goats outside the park, at the top of Mount Evans or another spot someone in Breckenridge suggested. Twice, we have combined a trip to Breckenridge (and RMNP) with a side trip to the Maroon Bells wilderness outside Aspen. (One of those times, we spent the night nearby and arrived before sunrise to photograph the alpine glow of the mountains reflected in the lake.) We missed seeing the beaver and moose at Maroon Bells but met people who saw them the night before. We tend to do a fair amount of driving when we visit Colorado though....

For what it is worth, here are the places I have been in the USA and would love to revisit with my camera in hand.

Acadia NP - scenery and wildlife
(Note: We took a trip to see puffins on our way to Acadia.)
Denali NP in Alaska - scenery and wildlife
Glacier NP - wildlife & scenery
Hawaii - scenery, sea turtles, etc.
Maroon Bells wilderness - scenery
Mt Evans (twisting drive up a mountain) - 360 views, wildlife
Mt Rainier NP - scenery
Rocky Mountain NP - wildlife & scenery
Sedona, AZ - scenery
Shenandoah NP - scenery and wildlife
Smoky Mountains - scenery, mountain streams and waterfalls

Visiting Yosemite is high on my wish list!

I generally avoid cruises, but loved our cruise from Vancouver to Alaska and the land touring we did when we arrived. Instead of taking the tours offered by the ship, we arranged our own side trips at each port and it worked out very well. My favorite excursion (while on the cruise) was the Misty Fjords flightseeing tour that we took in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Hope you have fun planning and then spending time with family in beautiful places!
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Old Sep 28th, 2014, 08:15 AM
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What about the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota? We saw plenty of wildlife in both Badlands NP and Custer State Park. You could do the hike to Harney Peak as well as several other shorter hikes that are a lot of fun. Then for some other different things - you could include one or both of Wind Cave NP or Jewel Cave NM as well as Mt. Rushmore where you might also see mountain goats. We went this June for a little more than a week and really enjoyed it - although I think Yellowstone is also still my favorite.

I couldn't tell after rereading the posts above if your trip was being planned for October or if it is just your granddaughters bday but that could be a potential issue with weather in the Black Hills / Badlands as I know they had a blizzard there last year in October.

There are so many great places to choose from - I am sure you will enjoy whatever you pick!
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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Her birthday is in Oct and has nothing to do with when we'd go.

If we went it would be sometime in the summer when school's out. Also, we would consider the length of season in the selected area.

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Old Oct 1st, 2014, 03:20 PM
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We too have been to a majority of our nations national parks. We have found most to be a worthwhile and scenic experience. However, Alaska, the whole state, just blows the completion away. The wildlife, mountains, fishing, glaciers and just plain drop dead scenery should propel it to the top of your list. Go to Alaska, you will not regret it.
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Old Oct 1st, 2014, 05:06 PM
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Alaska is the bomb, but very costly and travel time to get there and when you get there is an effort and costly. Really, you would need to do at least one small plane or helicopter, IMOP. Train there is worthy. You could do Kenai Fjords fairly easy from Anchorage. We did a fly out fishing from Soldotna while visiting Kenai. Totally amazing.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Added cost and time needed for Alaska is worth every cent.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2014, 02:33 PM
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Might look at Maine
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Old Oct 3rd, 2014, 11:26 AM
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For some reason I thought your granddaughter was in her 20s...so when I suggested Alaska I had that age in mind.

I would not plan a trip to Alaska around an 8 year old. Wait on that big trip for a few years when she can appreciate it more, and when her interests have solidified and become more clear to you. It's too big of a trip to take a girl that young who likes to stay up late playing games on her iPad.

For now with her I would plan smaller trips and if she is still into wildlife and photography 5 years from now, then start talking about Alaska. Certainly you could go alone next summer and go back in a few years with her, there is so much to see that you will never cover it all on one trip.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2014, 05:17 PM
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She's definitely too young for an Alaska trip though she has been to Europe several times. Most recently Italy and she can describe everything she saw.

I have three granddaughters; Two will be 8 this month and the other is 4.

The reason she's been on these trips is that she and her mother (my daughter) are both photographers.

I wish I could get her interested in landscape scenery. She's very much taken with wildlife.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2014, 05:40 PM
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Myer, I bet she would be interested in going into some of the ancient dwellings and learning about how kids her age lived in the old days. Bandelier or Mesa Verde would provide that and perhaps a few mule deer too.
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Old Oct 4th, 2014, 05:03 AM
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The answer to getting her into another field is to introduce it. Everyone loves to see animals. Mesa Verde would be gorgeous. Introduce "light" and composition to telling the story of the Anasazi.
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Old Oct 4th, 2014, 05:04 AM
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I suggested Maine--possibility of wildlife, but the beautiful streams, and then the rocky coast. Lobster boats. The "camps" of the wealthy and the not so wealthy for architecture.
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