One is the loneliest number. Bad things come in threes. But what about seven? It’s perhaps the most magical of numbers. Not because of sins, dwarves, or seas, but because of the Seven Wonders of World.
Our Royal Robbins team will be bringing new sets of Seven Wonders, and our first compilation of Seven Outdoor Wonders comes in the form of U.S. national parks. We selected parks that not only had a multitude of outdoor activities, but that also featured something of wonder to behold.
Perhaps the most famous national park, Yellowstone is home to sky-scarring mountains, meandering beasts and geothermal oddities. If you want to see nature in all her grandeur (and you can brave the cold), go in winter when the mountains are painted white, the sky is steely grey, and the steam ejected from the ground freezes on anything it touches, turning forests ghostly white.
Don’t miss… the Grand Prismatic Spring. Not far from Old Faithful geyser, the grand prismatic is a technicolor wonder that you won’t believe until you see.
This is your chance to commune with ancient giants. Some were saplings when years were only three digits. The California redwood trees are as tall as they are old. One of which, called Hyperion, is the tallest living tree, reaching 379 feet skyward. But it’s not just the sights, it’s the smells: the marriage of earthy forest and salty seaspray aromas makes for a spellbinding combination.
Don’t miss… a visit to Gold Bluffs Beach through a secluded fern canyon. So. Freaking. Cool.
The main attraction here is the obvious hellmouth of fire and magma spewing into the air and sea. It’s epic. More than just the volcanoes, however, the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to an abundant array of lush forests and wildlife indigenous exclusively to Hawaii. This is also a chance to go inside an old lava tube. Who can say they’ve done that?
Don’t miss… a view of the volcanic activity from the water (from a safe distance, of course) to witness the uncanny and explosive combination of molten lava and ocean water.
If you like the words “tall, handsome, chiseled and rugged” then Yosemite is for you. Its most iconic mountain, Half-Dome is a must-see, but really you should visit Yosemite for the waterfalls. They are powerful, awe-inspiring and some of the largest in the world.
Don’t miss… a stop at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, a grand yet simplistic four-diamond property built out of materials that reflect the natural, rugged surroundings.
The image below is of Royal Robbins, the namesake of the company he founded, at the top of Half Dome, circa 1964 after he completed a multi-day climb.
Whoever said there’s no such thing as natural beauty (click here to find out who) clearly hasn’t been to Glacier National Park. Called the Backbone of the World, this alpine wonderland features over a million acres of forests, lakes, mountains and valleys, all of which are ideal settings to romp, frolic and cavort to utter exhaustion.
Don’t miss… the glaciers. They, like most of the world’s ice formations are under threat. In the 1800s there were 150-some glaciers, but today, only 25 or so remain.
Proof that not all the best is in the west, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the nation’s most visited national park, attracting over 9 million visitors a year. Worry not, however, as the park’s 800 square miles leaves plenty of elbow room for everyone. Insider’s tip: visit between late-May and mid-June (and at night) to witness a dazzling firefly light show you won’t see anywhere else.
Don’t miss… a stay at LeConte Lodge where hikers can break up their multi-day trip between ascent and descent and enjoy the sweeping vistas.
The ideal trip for a lone-wolf adventurer, this remote island is hauntingly isolated, far away from civilization, where wildlife still rules. A trip here is not for the timid but well worth the trek. And for a real experience, get to the island by floatplane. Sure, it’s a bit pricy, but it will get you there significantly faster and the aerial views can’t be beat.
Don’t miss… a dive to one of the lake’s several sunken ships. The icy Lake Superior water has preserved these ships to an unbelievable condition.
Whether it’s a remote island excursion or a multi-day trek to the Northwest, remember that Royal Robbins can outfit you for all your outdoor adventures. How many of these 7 Outdoor Wonders have you experienced? and…