Numerous studies suggest that spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental and physical health.
Here are five ways to ease the stress of daily life and savor the solace of open spaces.
Consider forest bathing.
The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku is not exercise or jogging on a forest path. Rather, the idea is to bathe in the calming powers of the natural world by ingesting the sights, smells and sounds of the forest atmosphere through our senses. There is no need to travel long distances or acquire any special gear. The idea is to find a park, garden or tree-filled location and let your senses be your guide. Relax, wander and enjoy. For those who would appreciate a guided experience, resorts like The Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos and Oregon’s Salishan Resort offer a tailored option for their guests.
Take a hike. Nye, MT.
The six-mile round trip hike to Sioux Charley Lake in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains, provides of visual feast of nature’s bounty. The initial views include tumbling waterfalls through a canyon-walled section of the Stillwater River known locally as “the washtubs”. The river braids and the canyon widens as hikers move toward the Beartooth peaks, ambling through forest and meadows dotted with wildflowers. The lake area or intermittent rock outcroppings provide the perfect setting for a family picnic, quiet reflection, drawing or journaling.
Paddle through peaceful waters. Ely, MN.
Ease your canoes into the pristine waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) and look forward to peaceful days of paddling amidst a sparsely populated, one million-plus acre expanse of wilderness. Listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline and the haunting lullaby offered by local loons as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees and enjoy breakfast over a campfire. Then set out to explore more of the 1,500 miles of canoe routes that criss-cross the waterways.
Explore ecosysems in Belize.
Experience the calming effects of nature within this Central American gemwhere rainforests and expansive barrier reefs are a part of the 87 distinct types of ecosystems. Snorkel and dive in coastal areas or go inland for dense greenery and the chance to see colorful native birds. Stay at the Lodge at Chaa Creek for early morning bird watching tours, to visit the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and for medicine trail tours where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies.
Contact: www.ChaaCreek.com; TravelBelize.org.
Camp in the backcountry.
For the purest connection to nature, make your way off the beaten path. Hike, paddle or float into a pristine location where your family can learn or hone their wilderness skills. Choose a destination suitable for the ages and abilities of your crew. Encourage each person to take responsibility for the adventure whether that be early research, carrying a small pack, collecting kindling or serving as master storyteller around the fire. For those families that want to go deep into a National Park but aren’t ready for rugged, REI offers an alternative. Oversized tents are outfitted with cots, comfy bedding, floor coverings and lighting. Community areas offer a gathering place for families with hammocks and covered dining areas.
Contact: www.Backcountry.com; www.NationalParks.gov; www.REI.com.
There is plenty of family fun to be found in mountain towns during the summer.
Hiking, biking and family fly fishing abound.
Ready to rodeo in Steamboat Springs, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.?
Your whole crew will enjoy witnessing the American tradition where the rough and tough iconic cowboy meets good, old-fashioned family fun.
Check out these epic mountain towns while you are in the mood for high altitude fun.
A longtime backpacker, climber, and skier, author Michael Lanza, along with his nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter, embarked on a year-long trip through our National Parks.
It was an ambitious adventure, designed to immerse them in the natural world and to learn more about the effects climate change was having on these important landscapes.
He chronicled the journey in his book Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks.
Here, he shares five ways to encourage the next generation of outdoor adventurers.
1. Encourage outside play.
A slew of experts agree that regular, unstructured outside play is critical for a child’s healthy development.
To that end, “Kick them out of the house,” advises Lanza. “Kids today often want to play indoors where the electronics are. Insist they play outside—but also, give them the freedom to roam within boundaries appropriate for their ages. That way, they can explore and not get bored.”
It also helps to plan regular activity as a family: cross-country or downhill skiing, hiking on local trails, biking, even walking around your neighborhood or local community, Lanza advises.
2. Start slow.
When the time is right for adventure, take baby steps. “Begin with short hikes and gradually work up to longer outings,” advises Lanza, who gathered personal experience as a field editor with Backpacker magazine. “Evaluate your child’s readiness for something new based not just on its physical difficulty, but how well your child handled previous experiences that presented comparable stress.”
Lanza’s year–long trip included sea kayaking and wilderness camping in Glacier Bay, Alaska. He determined they were ready for such an outing because they had previously backpacked, rock climbed, floated and camped on a wilderness river, and cross-country skied through snowstorms.
“They had managed stressful situations well and understood the need to follow instructions and that trips have uncomfortable moments,” explained Lanza. “Despite how wet and raw it was, they loved Glacier Bay.”
Lanza believes in one important rule: no whining. “Tell your children they can talk about any situation they’re not happy with, but draw the line at complaining just to complain. Everyone will be happier.”
At the same time, he advises including them in the decision-making process, so they have a sense of control over their own fate, which, he says, goes a long way toward relieving stress, no matter what our age.
“Welcome their questions and address their concerns,” Lanza says. “Make sure they know that you won’t ask them to do anything they are not comfortable with, and that you will provide whatever help they need.”
According to Lanza, Grand Teton National Park, Yosemite, Zion, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain National Park all offer hiking and backpacking options that are ideal for beginners and families, with easy to moderately difficult days and simple logistics.
4. Be flexible.
Whether rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone or canoeing in the Everglades with his kids, Lanza made a point to be flexible.
Taking children on an outdoor adventure, especially younger ones, does not always go according to plan. Young kids want to throw rocks in a creek and play in the mud.
Lanza’s advice: “Let them. But, explain that there will be time for playing, but also a time for hiking.”
Meanwhile, parents should “focus on the journey rather than the destination,” advises Lanza. “And have Plan B at the ready.”
5. On the trail with teens.
No matter what kind of trip is planned, allowing a teenage son or daughter to invite a friend along is often a good strategy. It can be a little trickier when planning an outdoor adventure. “You want to make sure he or she is up to the challenges the trip may present,” explained Lanza. “It’s a good idea to talk with the parents ahead of time and perhaps plan a practice outing.”
Whether it’s a mountain climb or rafting a river, finding a shared goal that will challenge and excite your teen is a great way to open new doors within your relationship and to the natural world, offers Lanza.
Michael Lanza also offers outdoor adventure tips and strategies on his website The Big Outside.
Take part in ranching’s oldest tradition and learn to wrestle a calf, vaccinate, ear tag and gather at Zapata Ranch.
This is a hands-on, team-oriented experience that puts you in the center of the action. Through the week explore the ranch and the Great Sand Dunes National Park on horseback, help check fence, water and herd health while moving and gathering cattle ending the week in a full day of branding.
Also available are interpretive hikes with a naturalist, fly fishing, rafting, roping and leather working sessions as well as massage to assist with those activity filled days. For more, call Kate (888.592.7282) and ask about the 15% discount for the week of June 10, 2018.
Buckle up and cruise our scenic byways for exceptional beauty, wildlife and history.
Here are six to consider:
The Beartooth Highway.
Visitors who travel this extraordinary byway, experience the visual trifecta of Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, home to the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The windy, cliff-hugging 68-mile stretch introduces road explorers to one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by auto. It’s also the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, the All-American Road showcases wide, high alpine plateaus, painted with patches of ice blue glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. Plan for many stops so the driver can take in the long views!
Seward Highway, Alaska.
The road that connects Anchorage to Seward is a 127-mile treasure trove of natural beauty, wildlife and stories of adventure, endurance and rugged ingenuity. Take a day or several to explore the region that has earned three-fold recognition as a Forest Service Scenic Byway, an Alaskan Scenic Byway and an All-American Road. The drive begins at the base of the Chugach Mountains, hugs the scenic shores of Turnagain Arm and winds through mining towns, national forests, and fishing villages as you imagine how explorers, fur traders and gold prospectors might have fared back in the day. Expect waterfalls, glaciers, eagles, moose and some good bear stories.
Trail Ridge Road. Estes Park, CO.
During a 48-mile, two to three hour drive through majestic Rocky National Mountain Park, marvel at the Park’s wildlife, crystalline lakes, and jagged peaks. The nearby Continental Divide, provides the opportunity to explain to the kids how the “roof of the continent” spills moisture to the east and the west from its apex. Consider a stop at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which inspired Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” Also, visit the charming town of Grand Lake, home of the largest natural lake in the state of Colorado.
Contact: Colorado.com; www.nps.gov/romo/
Lighthouse Tour. ME.
Travel the 375 miles between Kittery and Calais, ME, visiting lighthouses along the way, and learn about the dangers that seafaring vessels and their crew endured along the craggy Northeastern coast. Hear tales of shipwrecks and ghosts and of the difficult and lonely life led by those who kept the lights burning brightly. Visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum, where artifacts and hands-on exhibits for children provide an enticing break.
Monument Valley, AZ
You’ve seen the skyline in the movies and on television commercials. Your entire family will marvel at the 250 million year old red rock formations, the magical light, the starry night and the Native American history that infuses the iconic landscape.
Take in the 17-mile scenic loop road on your own or hire a guide to delve deeper into the storied region and to access off-limit sites. Overnight at The View hotel for the best chance to capture the incomparable sunrise and sunset hues. Don’t forget your cameras!
Skyline Drive. VA.
Meandering along the crest of the mountains through the woods and past spectacular vistas, Virginia’s Skyline Drive begins in Front Royal and twists and turns southwest through Shenandoah National Park. Hike in the shade of oak trees along the Appalachian Trail, discover the stories from Shenandoah’s past, or explore the wilderness at your leisure.
Planning a trip to the Valley of the Sun?
Consider these fun facts about Phoenix so you'll be in the know before you go!
According to legend, Phoenix gets its name from Cambridge-educated pioneer Darrell Duppa, who saw the ruins and prehistoric canals of the Hohokam and believed another civilization would rise from the ashes.
Phoenix is the United States’ fifth-largest city with a population of over 1.6 million.
Greater Phoenix (which includes, among others, the cities of Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale and Tempe) has a population of nearly 4.5 million and covers 2,000 square miles.
Maricopa County—where Greater Phoenix is located—covers 9,266 square miles, making it about the size of New Hampshire.
Phoenix's elevation is 1,117 feet.
Greater Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert, which is one of the wettest and greenest deserts in North America, thanks to 3-15 inches of annual rainfall.
According to data compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, Phoenix basks in sunshine more often than any other major metropolitan area in the U.S. The sun shines on Phoenix during 85 percent of its daylight hours.
Phoenix has an average annual rainfall of 8.04 inches, an average temperature of 75.05 degrees and an annual high temperature of 86.7 degrees. The average high temperature in winter is 67 degrees.
Greater Phoenix has more than 62,000 guest rooms at more than 450 hotels and more than 40 resort properties.
Greater Phoenix is home to nearly 200 golf courses.
Greater Phoenix consistently ranks among the nation’s top cities in the number of Five Diamond and Four Diamond and Five Star and Four Star resorts.
More than 22 million people visit metropolitan Phoenix each year.
More than 44 million people visit Arizona each year.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, dubbed America's Friendliest Airport, is the main airport for the Greater Phoenix area. It serves more than 40 million passengers a year, and goes to more than 100 domestic and international destinations, making it one of the 10 busiest airports in the nation. With about 1,200 daily flights - about 500 nonstop - Sky Harbor is one of the most convenient airports.
Sky Harbor is a hub for two major low-fare carriers (American Airlines and Southwest Airlines).
Phoenix is one of the few U.S. cities with franchises in all four major professional sports leagues: Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Cardinals (NFL) and Arizona Coyotes (NHL).
Greater Phoenix hosted Super Bowl XXX on Jan. 28, 1996, Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008 and Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, 2015.
The Phoenix Suns have brought the NBA playoffs to Talking Stick Resort Arena (formerly US Airways Center) 29 times.
15 Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the Cactus League, which in 2015 drew a record 1.89 million fans.
Greater Phoenix is currently home to 15 Cactus League franchises: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
University of Phoenix Stadium, home of Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLIX, features both a retractable fabric roof and a roll-out grass field.
The University of Phoenix Stadium will be the host of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and recently hosted the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game (formerly BCS).
The Waste Management Open, played each February at the TPC Scottsdale, is the best-attended event on the PGA Tour, averaging more than 500,000 spectators.
The Phoenix Open set records attendance in 2015 with 564,368 fans attending the event.
Greater Phoenix is home to college football’s Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl. The 2007 and 2011 BCS National Championship games were played at University of Phoenix Stadium. University of Phoenix stadium also hosted the 2016 College Football Playoff (formerly BCS). In addition, Greater Phoenix hosted Pro Bowl in 2015.
ISM Raceway plays host to two NASCAR events each racing season.
Greater Phoenix’s major industries are (1) high-tech manufacturing, (2) tourism and (3) construction.
Greater Phoenix is the corporate headquarters of four Fortune 500 companies: Freeport-McMoRan, Avnet, Republic Services, and Insight Enterprises.
Phoenix is home to the largest municipal park in North America. South Mountain Park and Preserve covers more than 16,500 acres and has more than 50 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails.
There are six lakes within a 75-minute drive of Phoenix.
Phoenix has museums to suit nearly every taste. The Heard Museum (Native American); Desert Botanical Garden (the world's largest collection of desert plants); Taliesin West (home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation); the Phoenix Art Museum (the Southwest's largest art museum); the Fleischer Museum (American Impressionism); the Arizona Science Center; the Hall of Flame (featuring the world's largest collection of fire-fighting equipment); Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park (Native American) and the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) are among the cultural hot spots.
The Heard Museum has an extensive collection of American Indian artifacts, including the largest kachina doll collection (donated in part by the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater) of any museum in the country.
Arizona is home to 22 American Indian tribes.
The Musical Instrument Museum MusicTheater, in Phoenix, proudly announces its Summer 2018 Concert Series, includes more than fifty concerts from May through September, spanning multiple genres across the globe.
Highlights this season include vocalist-harmonica maestro John Popper, best known as founder and front man of the popular 1990s’ band Blues Traveler; funk and soul legends Tower of Power, performing as part of their 50th Anniversary Tour; Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux, whose voice has been compared to Billie Holiday; and ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin, who has successfully crossed over between genres of jazz, pop, and classical with his remarkable octave-jumping vocals. Tickets are on sale now.
As the world's largest mountain carving in progress, Crazy Horse is bigger than its iconic neighbor Mount Rushmore. The horse’s head alone, when completed, will be taller than the Statue of Liberty from base to torch. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski started work on the mountain in 1948 as a tribute to Native Americans, depicting the Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse riding a horse and pointing into the distance. Visitors can witness the monument in all its glory and participate in the following:
It's been more than 50 years since the creation of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which protects more than 12,000 miles of pristine waterways.
Here are five places where you and your family can relish the natural beauty of our nation’s rivers.
Middle Fork of the Salmon, Idaho.
Find your way to Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness and commit to an unplugged week on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. As you float, fish, and splash through 100 miles of spectacular scenery you’ll be treated to unexpected luxuries along the way. Relish the fresh air of morning as your crew delivers hot coffee or cocoa to your luxury tent. Later, warm up in a hot spring, dine on organic, seasonal specialties and plan for the next day’s adventure under a starry sky. Contact:
Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park, Texas.
This Wild and Scenic River forms the southern boundary of this 800,000-acre playground. It’s the only Park in the United States that hosts a complete mountain range – the Chisos. With older children in tow, soak in the Park’s scenery as well as the warm water offered by a resident hot spring. On the northern riverbank, steamy water fills the foundation of an old bathhouse, creating a popular natural hot tub. Nearby, look for painted pictographs on the cliff walls as you enjoy a one-mile loop hike past historic buildings and the area where various Indian groups lived and traveled.
The Rogue RIver, Oregon.
Float through 40 miles of scenic Southwestern Oregon and you’ll explore the same rugged country that drew Native Americans, trappers and prospectors for centuries. Stay in the raft or up the adrenalin ante by running the rapids in an inflatable kayak. Designated a “Wild & Scenic” wilderness area, you and your family will paddle through the Siskiyou Mountains and the Rogue River National Forest. Also possible are adventures that include hiking and gourmet dining options.
Au Sable, Wellston, MI. Introduce your family to the joys of fly-fishing in the north woods of Michigan. The scenic and diverse Au Sable River originates north of Grayling and winds for more than 100 miles before meeting Lake Huron
A fly-fishing only section of the river flows past Burton’s Landing and is known as the “Holy Water” for its productive riffles and trout filled pools. Team up with a local outfitter for instruction designed for young anglers.
Contact: PureMichigan.com; https://www.dloopoutfitters.com
Cache la Poudre, Colorado.
Located in the northern Front Range and dubbed thePoudre” by local residents and longtime visitors, the main and south forks of the Cache la Poudre River, originate in Rocky Mountain National Park and flow north and east through the Roosevelt National Forest before eventually passing through Fort Collins.
You can explore the region via the Cache la Poudre – North Park Scenic Byway. Beginning in Fort Collins, it follows the river and the route used by settlers to connect Colorado’s northern plains to the Green River settlement in Utah.
Experience the pinnacle of luxury Caribbean all-inclusive vacations with your adult children at Sandals Resorts.
Offering supreme vacation packages at luxury resorts in St. Lucia, Jamaica, Antigua, the Bahamas, Grenada and Barbados, where gourmet dining, gorgeous tropical settings and some of the world's most exquisite beaches will entice your group.
Of particular appeal is the golf and scuba in world class waters that is included at each all-inclusive resort. Both new and experienced divers can expect top-of-the-line equipment, state-of-the-art Newton Dive Boats, a PADI® certified staff and unparalleled dive locations.
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Sandals is a member of the FamilyTravel.com All Inclusive Travel Collection.