Unless you’re in the coldest or most northern stretches of the country, spring and beautiful spring weather has sprung, and the outdoors have never been more appealing. There’s nothing better than the great outdoors to refresh your batteries and give you a new perspective. Whether it’s going out to the woods, hiking a mountain, or just walking through the neighborhood park, a little quiet and wilderness can go a long way. But if you’re looking to punch up your outdoors game this summer, and really get off the beaten path, we’ve got three under the radar destinations to keep in mind.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Typically when you think of Colorado and wilderness, images of snow capped mountains probably come to mind. What probably does not come to mind is those mountains...rising above massive sand dunes. It’s as if a huge beach was blown off some shoreline, only to find itself nestled into the Rockies. And, it being Colorado and all, you can totally rent a sled and slide down those dunes until the 8 year old in you is contented. If you spend the night at Great Sand Dunes, try and hit it around the new moon, because if it’s a clear night the stars will be spectacular. Just know you will be enjoying them in true camping style, because there are pretty much no amenities there...maybe a diner. One diner.
Black Kettle National Grasslands
A remote destination, Black Kettle National Grasslands is however a perfect stop on a big cross country road trip. Let’s face it, if you live on the coasts there’s probably a gap in the middle of the country that might as well be from a medieval map of the sea saying “thar be dragons” when it comes to figuring out where exactly to stop. This is the spot. One of the few truly wild remnants of the great plains, it is also a stark reminder of the history of the United States, as both part of the great Dust Bowl of the 1930s, as well as the site of a Native American massacre (involving none other then Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer). Plus, it’s a very pretty place, a great wildlife spot (real, straight out of Looney Tunes road runners!), and there’s a number of swimming spots featuring some of the finest bathtub temperature water you can find.
While you’ve more likely heard of the Ozarks than the other destinations on this list, odds are good that’s half because your brain remembers seeing all those ads for Ozark on Netflix. The Ozarks is typically one of those places you’ve heard of, but you don’t really know anything about. And that’s a shame, because it’s a great spot. Another area of true wilderness, the Ozarks evoke the awesomeness of the wild in the original sense of awe: not just admiration of its beauty, but also respect and even fear of its power. Boasting sheer rock cliffs, deep caves, powerful waterfalls, and deep, dense woods, the Ozarks are probably not best led off by a movie marathon of The Descent, 127 Hours, and Deliverance...but then again, what is?
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