The Top Fifty Best Places in the American West (Part 1)
by Joseph A. Sprince - Photography by Gerald B. Allen
Best Places to Visit in the West:
New Best in the West Guide
- Best Mountains
Lots of choices, but it's hard to beat the Teton Range
in Grand Teton National Park for awesome views.
This jagged range rises straight out of Jackson Hole, a flat prairie, and extends for
miles in a straight line. Endless number of wonderful views plus great hiking.
The spectacular Lewis and Livingston Ranges in Glacier
National Park are close.
- Joy Queen: By far, Glacier National Park has the most spectacular views in N. America.
- Erna VanAsdale: ...I really enjoyed seeing the glaciers and all the snow.
- Shao-Ying Low: I think the reflections of the mountains are great.
- Marty Bloomenthal: Neat winter side trip, when you're downhill skiing at nearby Big Mtn.
- R.F. Niemann: Going to the Sun (Glacier NP) Road an absolute must,as great as the Alps.
- Lora Barlow: Montana and the west have always called me... would like to see Glacier.
- Vickie Nielsen: ...traveling around the Tetons: it's like the company of a good friend.
- Judith Reynolds: Best mountains are the Alaska Range in Denali National Park.
- Catherine Skinner: Neat to see Wyoming in "Best of..." list... mountains here are great!
- Heather Sawyer: ...the Sierra Nevadas have Lake Tahoe, the most beautiful I've ever seen.
- Sheryl Ballard: I love how the photo captures the serenity of the lake!
- Deborah Sauer: I could get lost here and live happily ever after.
- Tracy Gilgen: So peaceful and serene...makes me just want to be in the photo.
- Luis Fernandez: The eastern face of California's Sierra Nevada from highway US-395...
- Jim Ulseth: North Cascades Nat'l. Park, Washington - Rivals Glacier
- Best Wildlife Viewing
Alaska's Denali National Park teems with wildlife.
With general auto traffic banned on the main park road, you
tour on the park's buses. This guarantees plenty of viewable wildlife close to the road, including
large animals such as caribou and grizzly bear. In the lower 48, the northern Rocky Mountain parks
(Grand Teton, Glacier, Yellowstone) are all excellent for viewing wildlife.
- V. Bridges: A "lifetime must see"...fewer crowds and insects on Labor Day weekend.
- Laurie Moline: Was raised in northern MI, and find this closeup most appealing.
- Marina (Vladivostock, RU): A wonderful view of wildlife.
- Ron Kruse: Worked there for one season and fell in love with it. I plan to go back.
- Most Historic "Old West" Town
While Tombstone, Arizona, may be
a bit pretentious, its history is undeniable. The "Gunfight at the OK Corral" is the
West's most famous legend. Today, you can visit the OK Corral and see figures
representing each participant positioned exactly as they were at the moment of the
shootout. Other "must-sees" are the humorous and ironic epitaphs ("Hung by Mistake")
at the infamous Boot Hill Cemetary and the Bird Cage Theater, rated the "wickedest" night club in America by the New York Times.
- Carolyn Wise: I still think that Silverton, Colorado, beats it.
- Laurie Moline: I'd like to learn more about the old west...most interested in Tombstone.
- Heather Sawyer: Virginia City, Nevada... an amazing town with a lot of historic sites.
- Most Photogenic Place
For fantastic photos nothing beats Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona, both beautifully sculpted slot canyons. When slivers of sunlight enter the crack at midday, amazing
visual effects occur. Many of America's greatest landscape photographers come here to try their luck.
- Rusty Albertson: A great place to take photos.
- Lois Mcginley: Dramatic. Incredible. Puts humans in perspective.
- Carolyn Wise: Beautiful!!
- Marina (Vladivostock, RU): ...would be an excellent adventure to go there.
- Denise Gibbs: ...have never been here... it sort of reminds me of Bryce Canyon.
- Barry Hazelwood: ...spectacular photos... Paria Canyon in same area ... also looks good.
- Best Indian Ruin
The Keet Seel Ruin in Navajo National Monument, Arizona, was built and
occupied during the last half of the 13th century. Located under a narrow overhang
it is probably the best preserved of all Anasazi cliff dwellings. The rooms at the
far left in the photo, well sheltered by the overhang, are almost completely intact.
The eight mile hike to the ruin heightens the sense of adventure.
- Carol Gloriosa: A good runner-up is Montezumas Castle, certainly a fantastic locale.
- Rusty Albertson: ...have been there, a great hike and well preserved.
- Mark Henderson: The cliff dwellings of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.
- Lois Mcginley: Absolutely exquisite. A national treasure.
- Heather Sawyer: The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde are my favorite...
- Karen Traxmor: We've visited the dwellings in Mesa Verde and found them fascinating.
- Barry Hazelwood: Also, go to Chaco Canyon...always exciting to go back.
- Most Surrealistic Sight
Dante's View overlooking Death Valley. The view point, 5,500 feet above
the valley floor, looks down at the salt flats of Badwater, the lowest point
in the Western Hemisphere, 280 feet below sea level.
- Carol Gloriosa: ...Arizona sunsets can be quite surrealistic
- Erna VanAsdale: ...spent some time at Death Valley and it fascinated me...
- Mary Lacy: Interesting place to visit, wouldn't want to live there.
- Catherine Skinner: Been to Death Valley... there is so much to see there!
- Denise Gibbs: ...would like to go there now!
- Tracy Gilgen: Wild and fascinating, like nothing I could imagine.
- The Hottest and Driest Place
Of course, Death Valley.
Much of the surrounding Mojave Desert is about as arid, owing to the absence
of summer rains. However Death Valley's heat is in a class by itself, with 115-120°F
highs common in the summer. Death Valley had the highest temperature ever recorded (July 10, 1913)
in the world, 134°F (56.7°C)! Surprisingly, winter highs are quite nice, generally
about 65-70°F (18-21°C).
[Editor Note: Previous record of 58°C recorded at El Azizia Libya was reviewed (2010-2012) by a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission of Climatology (CCl) special international panel of meteorological experts conducted an in-depth investigation of the long-held world-record temperature extreme of 58°C (136.4 °F). The WMO evaluation committee concluded the most compelling scenario for the 1922 event was that a new and inexperienced observer, not trained in the use of an unsuitable replacement instrument that could be easily misread, inproperly recorded the observation and was consequently in error by about seven degrees Celsius. Based on these concerns, the WMO CCl World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has rejected the 58°C temperature extreme measured at El Azizia in 1922.]
- Mark Holloway: El Azizia, Libya, once hit 136°F. Atacama Desert, Chile, averages .04" rain.
- William Luke: This desert is great. It beats all other deserts.
- Paul P: 8th Wonder of the World, a huge and beautiful being...
- Paul Markowski: I crossed Death Valley at Badwater in 2001...it was the hottest place!
- Best Seacoast
Again, lots of choices. Artist Francis
McComas described Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel, California, as "the greatest
meeting of land and water in the world", a reasonable sentiment. The rolling hills
above the spectacular cliffs and black-sand beaches are lush with wildflowers and
exotic plants. The only remaining natural stands in the world of the beautiful Monterey
cypress are in the reserve. The shore is rich with observable marine wildlife. Breathtaking.
The savage and beautiful coastline of the Olympic National Park in Washington state
is right up there as well.
- Jacqueline Jackson: I could move there in a moment from Canada to California.
- Darcia Keplin: Even in mid-winter, we'd visit Neah Point in Olympic Nat'l Park...
- Jim Ulseth: Oregon Coast (Highway US-101) is my all-time favorite.
- Best Waterfall
Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural site in Oregon. The 600-foot waterfall is divided into a long thin Upper Falls and a broader Lower Falls. A short hike leads to a footbridge above the Lower Falls and at the base of the Upper Falls which can be reached with a more strenuous one-mile hike. While others are bigger or taller, Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park's Cascade Canyon is definitely "in your face". The close up vista point combined with the closed in setting provides a very powerful impression. The stream below the falls is also full of spectacular cascades; hence the canyon's name.
- Steve Tai: ...the water reminds me of many people running.
- Mark Henderson: The travertine falls in Havasupai Canyon (a beautiful tributary of Grand Canyon).
- Dave Bakehouse: Best Waterfall also to consider is Bridalveil in Telluride.
- Vickie Nielsen: Idaho's Shoshone Falls wide expanse is a wonderful vista.
- Karen Traxmor: We love watching waterfalls, and this one looks spectacular.
- Jim Ulseth: Multnomah Falls on Highway 30 in Oregon.
- Best Surrealistic Hike
You need to get lucky to visit the magnificent Wave in Coyote Buttes North of the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, one of the world's most well-known and surreal landscapes. Hikers and photographers from all over the world fight for the scarce permits. Our winter adventure took us into a unique world of slickrock and sandstone where the strange and wonderful are commonplace.
Best Places to Visit in the West:
New Best in the West Guide
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