SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PLACES TO ADVENTURE

February 20, 2020

We love to travel and love finding new places to hike and camp. We both grew up camping. I (Shannon) grew up traveling all over the US. My parents were the ones who instilled the travel bug in me at such a young age.

We grew up on other sides of the US and both have such a sense of wonder. Since we started dating and long in our marriage, we have been adventuring to new hikes and camping locations and have tried to show our girls some of the beauty. We tend to find the lesser known and less crowded spots.

We love showing our clients all the beauty that’s around us. Some of our favorite places to adventure are below.

The West

Bryce National Park

Every time we visit Bryce, it seems to be in May and always COLD there at night. The most recent time we visited, it actually snowed while we were camping in a tent, and let me tell you…so cold!

It has a ton of cool camping areas and hiking spots and lots of them are super accessible. Food is a wee difficult to come by so be sure to stock up. There are some cute little local places there in case you want to adventure out to eat. The hiking and views are so worth the trip.

Zion National Park

Zion is beautiful and there are so many hikes to do there! We went in a May and it was already super crowded and no places to camp within the park. We ended up going to Bryce to camp. We will say though, the drive into the park is worth it alone.

Moab National Park

Moab is a beautiful place to explore. The one thing we forgot though is that no animals aren’t allowed to go on the trails at the National Park. It was a HUGE bummer. There are a ton of places around though that are outside of the park to adventure around. May was cold there. And so windy, so we suggest bringing a bunch of extra warm clothes if you go around then!

The Great Sand Dunes National Park

There are so many amazing hikes and places in Colorado to explore and The Great Sand Dunes National Park is like visiting another world. There can be sand storms which is quite amazing to see. When we visited, we also stopped at Zapata Falls. It’s a quick hike to the falls and totally worth the view.

Walking across the water to get to the dunes can be kind of difficult. We went in the spring, so it was ICE cold and our kiddos weren’t having it. If you go in the summer, the sand can be a bit too hot for your feet. Once you get across the water, you can slide down the dunes like you are snowboarding and adventure all over the place. It’s a pretty awesome time!

Hint: bring some snow or water goggles to keep the sand out of your eyes and be sure to protect your camera from the sand.

Rocky Mountain National Park

There is so much beauty in the park. When we drove through one time, we saw a moose and it was like a movie. You know, one of those Robert Redford or Brad Pitt ones in the wilderness. We have backcountry camped there and although the ground was hard as nails, it was totally worth the hike. I do remember there were a ton of mosquitoes though, so be aware of that. My sister-in-law and I were almost crying because there were so many around. Be warned.

There are so many views worth it though and it’s definitely a must see. Even better when you come out at Estes Park, take a peek at the Stanley Hotel and grab a bite to eat and beer.

Denali

Denali: (older image)
Denali with a fox: (older image)

We backcountry camped here and it was glorious. We had to take a bus to the hiking spot. I have to say it took about 5-6 hours on the bus and then it was about 7 more hours of hiking to the spot we were going to camp. Our camping spot was perfect and we got to see Denali every night there (which is really rare).

Hint: Pack more food than you need. We ran out and spent about 24 hours without food. We hiked for 7+ hours and traveling on a bus for 5-6 hours and had no food the entire time. That’s very memorable.

Grand Canyon National Park

We both have been to the Grand Canyon, on separate occasions. Jake had a recent experience, and here is a little about it:
Rafting through the Grand Canyon is an experience of a lifetime. It is easily in the top three adventures we have done. There is nothing like cowboy camping at night and freezing/overheating during the day. The air down in the canyon is crazy hot but then when you hit the rapids and get drenched, it cools you off so fast. Make sure you take sunscreen and enough clothes to cover your body as the sun just seems to beat down on you. There were sever little adventures we experienced along the trip. Hiking and floating down the Little Colorado were the highlights.

Leaving the canyon was quite the experience as well. We had to hike out of the canyon after our rafting trip was complete. We had to sit through a lecture that informed us how dangerous hiking in 100+ degree weather could be. While sitting through this lecture we noticed that the temp was nearing 140 degrees…but it’s a dry heat. ;) So, with the threat of heat stroke weighing on our minds, we decided to leave at 2:30 am and beat the heat. Beating the heat is a relative phrase here. Hiking out with headlamps gave me a new experience of bats dive bombing bugs right in front of my face.  

If there is ever an opportunity for you to raft down the Colorado, do it!

Glacier National Park

insanely cold water (older image)
backcountry camping (older image)

So many views and fun spots to camp. We backcountry camped and camped on the Eastern side. It was cold in August, but so beautiful! We got into the water, despite how cold it was and let me tell you it was insanely cold! Like, it hurt to touch the water.

The backcountry camping was amazing. We had to hike over a creek and ended up near a beautiful lake. A hail storm happened when we first arrived. We hid under a tree until it passed by and the rest of the trip was perfect.

Matanuska Glacier

The coolest thing about this place is the fact that you can walk all over the glacier and the view is amazing! It’s like being on another world. Be sure to wear good shoes and wear enough clothes to stay warm and dry. When it’s rainy, it’s a tad cold and a bit slick on the ice. They do tours there too, so if you have time, it would definitely be a fun thing to do!

Cannon Beach/Astoria Area

There is something about West Coast beaches that makes you feel so small in the world. And, also think of Goonies. Maybe because they filmed it in Astoria.

Jake lived in Oregon for a couple years when he was little, but he never really got to explore it all until more recently. Our girls were in complete awe of the beach and we were so happy to show them it.

The East

Shenandoah National Park

Living near here for a few years (Shannon’s parents lived in Charlottesville and Waynesboro) during college and it was super accessible to the park and to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

There are some amazing hikes and views along the way. Humpback Rocks isn’t in the park, but super close and a fun hike. It’s super steep for the first 60% of it, and then it gets a bit easier. The view is totally worth it all.

Dolly Sods

I (Shannon) have been hiking and visiting Dolly Sods since I was little. We travel up to the area most summers to camp and Dolly Sods was the spot to go to and view the stars.

Since moving to the area, we still visit it and love recommending it as the perfect spot for camping and hiking (and sessions/elopements of course). The drive isn’t too bad, just know you won’t have service 99% of the time up there. Which is kind of perfect.

They have some great camping spots for car camping and dispersed camping all over the place. Bear Rocks is an amazing spot for sunrise. Sunrise is probably the best time if you want photos up there, but sunset is pretty amazing too! Some spots make it look like you are in the PNW, which is amazing!

Blackwater Falls/Canaan Area

There are so many accessible trails and views around the area. We love Lindy Point and Pase Point. We also love going to all the waterfalls in the area too and they are so close, to the point where you can walk to a lot of them.

The cool thing, is that there are a ton of cute shops and restaurants in the area too. Once you are finished hiking, you have to check them all out.

Seneca Rocks + Spruce Knob Area

Another place I (Shannon) have visited since I was little. The camping is amazing and the hikes nearby are beautiful. It’s a super remote area so be sure to prepare for it all. There are also some more secret spots we have gone to since I was little, that I would love to share more about.

If you want to get away from work and life, this is the perfect spot to recharge and take in all the beauty.

Some Places in Canada Too…

We did mostly backcountry or off-road camping at these places. The Alaska Highway is super long and nothing around, so we occasionally stopped, just on the side of the road. One of the best things was hanging out at the gas station, meeting locals, having coffee and just really taking in all the moments along the road. We actually drove through a herd of buffalo. We also drove up to a mama grizzly and three of her cubs. It was insane!

Remember when we mentioned mosquitoes in RMNP? They are nothing compared to here and in Denali. Just dab a little Deet on and you will be good. ;)

Note: (these photos are a tad older and on an OLD camera…but still wanted to share some)

Banff

Banff: (older image)
Glacier at Banff: (older image)

We camped here and loved every minute of it, aside from whatever animal was scratching on our tent. That kept us up for sure.

We hiked around the lake, saw so many beautiful poppies, climbed rocks, hiked over a glacier and had some tea at Lake Agnes Tea House at the top of the mountain. It’s awe-inspiring and was such an amazing hike and view.

Jasper

We loved Jasper so much. The town is so adorable. It’s weird, but we still talk about a place in town that had $5 burgers…and they were the best burgers we ever had. Or it could be that we hadn’t eaten real food in a while (since we had been camping for over a week at that time).

We did some backcountry camping there and it was one of the most beautiful places we have seen. We did see some bear tracks along the trails and were always on the lookout for them.

Whitehorse

Whitehorse was one of the most “chill” places we got to hangout at when we visited. We loved the town and the feeling there. The beauty of the area definitely made us all want to visit again.


We hope you enjoyed viewing and reading about some of our favorite places to have an adventure! We have so many more to share soon! We have one life and these experiences are some of the most important things to us!

We are Shannon+Jake and we are photographers for adventurous couples + people. We are here to make your day a day to always remember. In the end, all we have are moments.

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