Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge serves at least two important functions: Preserving rare creatures and plants, and preserving the sanity of urban visitors by surrounding them with the beauty of green wetlands, glimpses of small fish darting through natural pools, and the sound of birdsong.
Some of the tallest sand dunes in North America can be found in the remote and extreme northern section of Death Valley National Park, California. The Eureka Dunes, in the enclosed Eureka Valley, have a base elevation of about 3,000 feet, and from there, they rise up nearly 700 feet more. The formation is about three miles long from north to south and one mile wide.
With the temperatures in our region finally cooling off, now is a good time to head out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. There are many canyons to explore in the park but Pine Creek Canyon should be tops on your short list.
If you have ever aspired to hike the world-famous Zion Narrows, over the next month or so is an ideal time to do so. Water and air temperatures remain as pleasant as they’ll ever be, and the threat of flash flooding is lower than the last couple of months.
Along the eastern rim of Utah’s Paunsaugunt Plateau lies Bryce Canyon National Park, a visual feast for the eyes. Standing along the park’s rim, visitors are treated to a multicolored landscape of natural spires, pinnacles and pillars called hoodoos. They got their name because their upright shape, with a little imagination, suggests humanoid or even supernatural beings.
If a visit to the Grand Canyon National Park is on your summer schedule, I recommend heading to the canyon’s North Rim rather than the better-known and thus more crowded South Rim. The North Rim affords classic views just as stunning as those visible from the South Rim but you get to enjoy them in cooler weather. Summer daytime high temperatures on the North Rim average in the 70s. And nighttime lows drop to the 40s, making good sleeping weather for campers.
Great Basin National Park doesn’t get its fair share of visitors, but that’s all the better for the enlightened few who get to enjoy it without fighting any crowds. Deep summer is the best time to go there, when its high elevation provides the cool temperatures so longingly sought by hikers and campers from Southern Nevada. Nevada’s only national park, it offers plenty to do.
One benefit of living in Southern Nevada is the opportunity to explore little-traveled back roads winding their way to uncrowded outdoor adventures. One of the best is the Mormon Well Road, originally a pioneer wagon trail on what is now the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.