Prior to being National, State, and other protected public lands, California’s eastern deserts were honeycombed with a variety of mining claims. While some of these claims were more successful than others, all of these claims had a variety of unique structures, and methods to extracting minerals. Today, many of these structures have disappeared, or have been closed off by various governmental agencies. Those that remain, fall into a number of categories ranging from easily found and known about (such as Bodie State Park), or unknown and visited, to known or unknown and closed off (such as Carey’s Castle in Joshua Tree National Park). The first and third categories are easily dealt with, as they provide explorers and visitors with clear direction. The second category, however, provides writers with difficulty in both reporting, and describing them, but in general, my approach to such things is to provide information, as they are on public land, and the best way to preserve them is to allow people to appreciate them and experience them.
From the Salton Sea to the east, and the expanse between near the Mexican border to the south and the Santa Rosa National Monument to the north, Anza-Borrego State Park has a number of interesting geologic features that can be seen with a little effort. Some, like Font’s Point require at times, four wheel drive to visit, but have a great payoff in terms of sunrise and sunset. Others, like the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves require both four wheel drive, and a willingness to explore and adventure. Out of all of these locations, none is more accessible than Clark Dry Lake Bed.
One of the most fascinating things about any desert region are the things that have been left behind, either unintentionally, or intentionally, along with the attendant legends that surround these modern or ancient historical artifacts. From the Mexican border up through the volcanic tablelands near Bishop, California is honeycombed with strange and unique spots, such as Ballarat and Corn Springs. In Joshua Tree National Park alone, however, there are numerous unique locations, both known - like the Desert Queen Mine - and unknown. Out of all of these spots within the park, Samuelson’s Rocks are one of the better preserved locations, and one of the more unique as they comprise the thoughts of a strange man who lived a very interesting life. For those visitors with a map or GPS, the rocks also present an “off-trail” adventure that, when prepared for properly, allows one to experience a side of the park that typical visitors may not see.
Throughout all of Ireland, and Northern Ireland there are a plethora of ruins that inspire the imagination and have a rich history and lore. Some, like Blarney Castle are well known, and have had a myriad of visitors over the years. Other spots like Corcomroe Abbey, the Mulgrave Barracks, and even Mahon's Rock appear to have slipped out of time and seem to be waiting to be discovered again by visitors who stop by for a visit. One of the more accessible spots with a rich medieval and modern history is Dunluce Castle, whose ruins rest a hundred feet above the ocean along the coast of Northern Ireland.
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.