While Mount Ellinor is not the highest mountain on the Olympic Peninsula (Mount Olympus is, at 7,979 feet), nor the site with the most accessible high alpine views (Hurricane Ridge, in Olympic National Park is), it is one of the most popular hikes in the region, along with Sol Duc Falls and the Hall of Mosses. As well, on a clear day, Mount Ellinor has some of the best views of Olympic National Park and the peninsula as a whole from its 5,954 foot summit. Mount Ellinor also is one of the best places to see mountain goats in the entirety of Washington. While all of these items are positive - great views - ability to view wildlife - what is bad about the Mount Ellinor hike is the vertical gain. While there are many ways to climb Mount Ellinor - Upper Trail; Lower Trail; Winter route - all of these ascents feature a fair amount of vertical gain in a short distance. But for those willing to accept the pain, they will find that despite its popularity, Mount Ellinor’s summit is worth the potential suffering.
Out of all the mountains in the continental United States, few have a mystique that approaches the stature of Mount Rainier. And, out of all the mountains in the continental United States, few have the visual impressiveness of Mount Rainier, which among other reasons is why the mountain and its surrounding regions became the United States fifth National Park. At 14, 411 feet Mount Rainier is not the tallest mountain in the continental United States, but it is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range, and is one of the most challenging peaks to climb in the United States. While most of the visitors to Mount Rainier National Park do not climb the mountain in its entirety, many of the trails in the park traverse sections of the mountain, and provide excellent views of the mountain's many glaciers and snowfields.
Without a question, the trek up Half Dome in Yosemite is one of the park’s signature hikes, and one of the park’s most popular hikes. But, for those people who want to climb one of the park’s signature granite peaks - and a dome no less with a fraction of the crowds, and almost none of the red tape (permits), Lembert Dome is the spot to visit. Similarly, for those who a sixteen mile roundtrip hike is unfeasible for due to physical concerns, or because of other limitations, such as small children, Lembert Dome is also the spot to visit. Finally, for those who appreciate a fantastic three hundred and sixty degree view of northeastern Yosemite, just off the Tioga Pass, Lembert Dome is also the spot to visit. Named for Jean Baptiste Lembert, who homesteaded in Tuolomne Meadows in the nineteenth century, the dome today is a great hike in the region, and the park as a whole.
One of the more historic and unknown mountains in Yosemite is Clouds Rest. The mountain’s current name comes from Lafayette H. Bunnell, who was the doctor of the Mariposa Battalion which explored Yosemite Valley and Yosemite in the nineteenth century before it became a National Park. Bunnell (whose name now graces the Bunnell Cascade along the Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley) named the mountain such because when he viewed it after a snowstorm, the clouds appeared to “rest” upon the mountain. At 9,930 feet of elevation, and with a distinctive knife-like arete ridge, Clouds Rest can be viewed easily from Yosemite Valley and various other peaks in the park, particularly as it towers above nearby Tenaya Canyon.
For as long as Niagara Falls has been known to man, there has been an inexplicable desire to either explore the falls in a new way, or experience the rush of going over the falls. From unprotected falls, to barrels, to tightropes and beyond, the falls have seen beyond their fair share of daredevils and deaths. And, over the years, the Niagara Falls zone has seen an uptick in “extreme” tourism, helicopters to zip lines to hiking trails through the gorge, and trips behind the falls. For those wishing to head above the falls and have a unique and “extreme” experience, the Whirlpool Aerocar is a 101 year old attraction with a near perfect safety record.
One of the most distinctive buildings in the city of Victoria is the Parliament Buildings for the province of British Columbia. For those entering Victoria by ferry or boat, the buildings are an impressive sight along the waterfront. The buildings, which were commissioned in 1893, and completed in 1898 are an excellent example of neo-baroque architecture. While the buildings are still in use today for the British Columbia legislative assembly, tours are available, and the buildings themselves are a popular spot for photo opportunities by tourists visiting the city on a day or multi-day trip. But for those looking for a bit more unconventional photo, and to experience what the power (and discomfort) of government feels like, the grounds of these buildings also feature an interesting curiosity, a sculpted replica of the interior Speaker’s Chair.
From the border crossing at the Ambassador Bridge up past Oil Springs to the North and Niagara Falls to the East, the province of Ontario has big skies, and miles upon miles of mostly flat farmland. While it is beautiful green country, it is not a spot that most outdoor enthusiasts go to seek adventure. Yet, in this area, there are enclaves of wilderness that still exist to this day, mostly bounded by the Great Lakes that also surround this part of Canada. A prime example of one of these wilderness enclaves is Pinery Provincial Park. While Pinery Provincial Park is mostly known for the campgrounds and beaches along the shores of Lake Huron, it was established to protect one of the largest remaining stands of Oak Savannah habitat in Ontario. While the park’s beaches are impressive, a great way to experience the natural beauty of the parks is along the Hickory Trail.