Explore new country destinations on your next vacation. Here are five places to consider.
American Prairie, Mt.
Using an innovative model, American Prairie, a nonprofit organization based in Montana, is assembling a 3 million acre nature and wildlife preserve in the Great Plains of Montana.
When completed, the reserve will provide a continuous, collaboratively managed terrestrial area for wildlife and recreation.
It will be the largest of its kind in the lower 48 states.
Herds of elk, deer, pronghorn and bison once roamed these grasslands in large numbers. American Prairie’s goal is to create and protect a functioning ecosystem within this iconic landscape.
Unlike developed national parks, the privately created American prairie provides a sense of uninterrupted nature.
The current habitat base of over 450,000 acres extends north and south of the Missouri River in northeastern Montana. Camping and a system of huts provide access to hiking, mountain biking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and night sky viewing away from city lights.
For more information: www.American Prairie.org; www.VisitMT.org
With plenty of great outdoors within easy reach, this central Wyoming city is a vibrant hub for outdoor adventure. Home to the North Platte River, which offers year-round fly fishing opportunities, Casper has become a go-to destination for avid and budding anglers. The river lies below five reservoirs, allowing constant water flows and temperature, thus manifesting a stable fishing habitat. You’ll hear enthusiastic talk and stories of big fish from specific stretches of the river, including the Miracle Mile and Gray Reef. But for family travelers, it’s good to know that there’s also blue water running through the heart of the city, with plenty of public hotspots available. Enjoy the legendary waterway in a different way via the Platte River Trail system, which traverses the community for 11 miles. Paved trails provide access to wildlife viewing, mountain views, and public art.
Contact: www.Visit Casper.com
Amish Country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Step back in time and stroll through the towns and villages of Lancaster County, where Amish carpenters and joiners are busy creating beautifully handcrafted furniture, birdhouses, bowls and children’s toys. Stop to admire the potters at work or the extraordinary hand-sewn quilts designed and created by Amish women.
Go hiking or horseback riding, or explore the winding country roads.
For more information: https://www.visitamishcountry.com
For long views, sunny days and unique land formations, consider a hike in the history-rich Canyonlands. It’s a photographer’s dream, so keep your camera handy as you decide between short walks, longer day hikes, or more strenuous outings.
The 3 km Grand View Point trail offers panoramic views of the island in the Sky Mesa. To learn more about how the Anasazi lived in the area, consider the Aztec Butte trail, where some of their rock structures are still visible.
For more information: www.utahscanyoncountry.com
Bar Harbor, Maine
Explore 45 miles of Acadia National Park via the rustic roads made possible by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr.
The 16-foot-wide historic trails were designed for the Rockefeller family to travel through the area on horseback or by horse-drawn carriage. So none of the roads are too twisty or steep, making them ideal for today’s family riders. Historic stone bridges cross streams, waterfalls and roads. Do them by bike or on foot, or take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
For more information: https://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LO Hayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel insights on Twitter @lohayesFacebook or through FamilyTravel.com
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