If you’re planning a vacation, we recommend taking a break from the well-grooved tourist tracks of popular destinations like NYC, L.A., Miami, and Vegas. Instead, make your holiday really count when you witness some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country. But don’t put it off for too long because some of these incredible natural wonders are disappearing fast. Due to climate change, scientists predict that these legendary national treasures will be gone in 100 years–and in some cases, less than 30. From the travel experts at Metropolitan Shuttle, here is a lineup of must-see locations that you MUST put on your bucket list:
Glacier National Park, Montana
Over the millennia, these glaciers have carved out beautiful lakes, lofty mountains, and verdant valleys, creating an awe-inspiring countryside that is humbling to witness. Legends have been singing its praises for decades, including the naturalist John Muir, who loved Glacier National Park on a deeply spiritual level. In fact, he once said, “I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God than in church thinking about the mountains.”
But Glacier National Park is changing fast. According to Sam Williamson from WeSwap Travel Money, “Over the last 50 years, Glacier National Park in Montana has lost almost 50% of the glaciers in the park due to an increase in temperature rises and climate change…” At the current rate that the ice is melting, experts predict that all the glaciers could be gone by 2030. It’s a sobering and bittersweet reality that makes these glaciers even more precious and inspiring.
With 1,583 square miles of wilderness and 700 miles of hiking trails, there is no shortage of rugged adventures you can go on when visiting this expansive nature park. But there is a time limit on the majestic beauty of Glacier National Park, a piece of Montana that is disappearing year after year. According to Will Hatton, founder and CEO of Hotel Jules, the park used to have 150 glaciers. “Sadly, one of the most beautiful parks in the United States is losing its appeal year after year, with the glacier countdown to 25.”
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Another spot that won’t be around forever is the Exit Glacier, which is part of the Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, a rugged frontier where the mountains, ice, and ocean meet. Locals like Susanna Kelly, a content creator and SEO specialist, have already witnessed the devastating effects of climate change on Alaska’s most beautiful landscapes. Of the 40 glaciers in the park, the Exit Glacier in the Harding Icefield is melting at a high rate. As Kelly points out, “the area is full of natural beauty and should be on everyone’s must-see list in the United States…” Dan Austin of AustinAdventures.com remembers standing next to the glacier wall when it was 20 ft tall. Today, “the best you can do is to view it from a quarter of a mile away,” he explains.
Described by many visitors as remote, rugged, and unpredictable, Alaska attracts the type of traveler with an adventurous spirit. From wildlife encounters to rapidly changing weather, get ready for a wild ride in one of the last frontiers of the United States. It’s time to grab the gear and head to the glaciers of Alaska before they’re gone.
Road Tripping from South Carolina to Vermont
If you get a kick out of nostalgia, make the journey up the East coast all part of the fun when you stop at a few must-see highlights along the way. Making his way from South Carolina to Vermont every year, Andrew Safnauer, owner of safnauer.com, takes his family on a trip down memory lane with stops at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Center for a bit of history and then Dinosaur Land in Winchester, Virginia. He describes it as an “old school roadside stop with fiberglass dinosaurs and a giant King Kong you can climb up on.”
When you take the scenic route along the East coast, you’ll also have a chance to stop at the Luray Caverns, a massive underground lair filled with 140-ft natural columns and colorful stalactites. As the largest caverns in the eastern U.S., get ready for an otherworldly experience as you witness cathedral sized rooms with ceilings that are 10 stories high and towering stone formations at every turn.
Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor, Michigan
Coastal areas are also constantly changing and evolving due to human activity as well as natural causes such as strong winds and erosion. Such is the case with Sleeping Bear Dunes, a favorite spot for John Frigo, the SEO Lead at mysupplementstore.com. As he explains, “The entire area is magnificent, however, one particular area I love is the scenic drive to an area called the Pierce Stockings Overlook. It’s a 600-foot sand dune that looks out over Lake Michigan.”
Although the dune is quite steep at a 40 degree incline, you’re allowed to hike up and down the trail if you’re up for the physical challenge. Keep in mind that the trek back up the cliffside can take 2 to 3 hours. While you’re there, you can also tour several historic lighthouses, which will give you an up-close glimpse into the rich history of the area.
The American Prairie Reserve, Montana
In his celebration of frontier heritage, Anthony Bourdain found the Montana landscape to be incredibly unique: “It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. There is no place like it.” But the ecosystem of the American Prairie Reserve is starting to change. In fact, as Adam York of Sublime Public Relations explains, “Scientists predict that the northern plains will experience hotter temperatures, drier conditions and highly localized weather events. As a result, animals like sage-grouse, longhorn and bison will shift their range, making habitat connectivity increasingly important.”
But even with these major challenges facing the terrain, the nature preserve is working to create the largest nature reserve in the lower 48 states, including habitat restoration projects and opportunities for public recreation such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and camping. If you want to see the American Prairie in its full glory, don’t wait too long because the terrain and wildlife won’t be here forever.
Denali National Park, Alaska
As one of the last unspoiled frontiers in the United States, Alaska deserves another mention on our list of must-see destinations that are disappearing fast. Julie Leventhal, director of Spherical PR, recommends visiting Ruth Glacier, which is receding at an alarming rate. For an epic, once in a lifetime adventure, “Guests should visit the Sheldon Chalet, where you can see the glacier, the summit of Denali and explore its beautiful surroundings before it’s gone.”
One of the most exclusive hotels in the country, the Sheldon Chalet is perched on the flanks of North America’s highest mountain, making it the perfect homebase for experiencing the magical landscape of Alaska such as the Northern Lights, which can be viewed from the comfort of your own bed. In the daytime, you can also go glacier trekking and snowshoeing followed by an evening feast of the finest Alaskan seafood.
When you experience some of the last pristine locations on Earth, you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the natural wonders of our ever-changing world. In the spirit of John Muir and his love of nature, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Bon voyage!
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