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The Glorious Bucket List: Hiking Angel’s Landing

Zion Canyon from the top of Angel’s Landing

 

Where: Zion National Park in Southern Utah

Why: While Angel’s Landing is among the more harrowing hikes in the National Park system, the incredible view from the top makes the 5-mile trip along the steep, winding path well worth it for any nature lover.

How: Hikers begin with a free shuttle ride to the park’s Grotto stop, where you can fill up on water before crossing the bridge over the Virgin River at the trail’s base. From there it’s a two-hour trip to Scout Lookout at the top of the 1,488-foot rock formation. There’s plenty to take in along the way, particularly for birding enthusiasts who can expect to spot winged creatures like the black-chinned hummingbird, turkey vulture, and California condor.

The first few miles of the trail are well-groomed, with shady spots like Refrigerator Canyon offering breaks from the heat before hikers reach the last half mile, one of the toughest parts of the trek thanks to 21 pinball-like switchbacks known collectively as Walter’s Wiggles. Reaching the very top with the help of anchored support chains, visitors are rewarded with spectacular views of Zion Canyon that American geologist Clarence Dutton aptly described as, “…a scene never to be forgotten. In coming time it will, I believe, take rank with a very small number of spectacles each of which will, in its own way, be regarded as the most exquisite of its kind which the world discloses.”

More: Get an even better sense of what’s in store with Zion National Park’s Angel’s Landing eHike, featuring photos, videos, and more facts about the trail.

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Glorious Bucket List: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

photo by Peter Cherry

 

Spring is here and nowhere is that more evident than the fields of Skagit Valley in Washington, which hosts its annual tulip festival from April 1-30th. Just look at the amazing colors of these flowers (millions in fact) spread across hundreds of acres just 60-miles north of Seattle, near Mount Vernon. One of the things I love about this event is its simplicity. There’s not a lot of formal to-dos or hokey events—Skagit Valley mostly just lets the tulips speak for themselves. The festival’s website does offer a handy Field Map visitors can use to navigate their way around (stop by the “Tulip Office” when you get to town and pick one up). I love the idea of renting a bike for the day, meandering down the country roads past farm after farm, awash with all the colors of the rainbow.

photo by Scott Lechner

 

photo by Washington Bulb Company

 

photo by Wade Clark

all photos via Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 

 

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The Glorious Bucket List: Rafting Through the Grand Canyon

What: An unforgettable journey through the belly of the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world

Why: The rush of rafting through whitewater, majestic limestone cliffs, cactus gardens, visits to Native American ruins, canyon hikes.

How: Since 1969, rafting outfit O.A.R.S. has been operating guided, non-motorized trips down the Colorado River. Guests can choose from two types of vessels: an inflatable raft which offers a bit more give over rapids and travels more quickly through the water, or hard-hulled dories, which make for a more up-and-down experience through whitewater and go at a more leisurely pace through the canyon. Trips range in length from 4 days to 18-19 days, but on each visitors can expect to spend 3-5 hours aboard the boat, and the rest of the time hiking around the canyon, eating, or hanging out at camp. For first timers, we like the 5 day Whitmore Wash to Lake Mead trip, which also includes an afternoon of horseback riding, ATVing, of hiking at Bar 10 Ranch and a scenic helicopter ride into the Canyon.

all photos via O.A.R.S.

 

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The Glorious Bucket List: National Cherry Blossom Festival

photo by Rachel Walker

 

What: An annual celebration commemorating the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C.

Why: This is Washington at its prettiest, and with over five weeks of activities planned there’s plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained

How: There’s no better time to attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival than this year, which marks the celebration’s 100th anniversary. The festival officially runs from March 20th to April 12th, with event highlights that include:

March 21st: The festival’s Opening Ceremonies, taking place at the Warner Theater from 5-6:30pm.

March 28th: Hundreds of kites take to the skies surrounding the Washington Monument during the Blossom Kite Festival.

April 4th: Starting at 2pm, the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival features live music, family-friendly water activities, and cherry-inspired foods and drinks, and culminates with a fireworks show at 8:30pm.

April 11th: Lavish floats, balloons, marching bands, and more travel down Constitution Avenue during the The National Cherry Blossom Parade from 10am-12:30pm. And from 11am-6pm, Pennsylvania Avenue is home to Sakura Matsuri, the largest Japanese cultural festival in the country, featuring food from 25 restaurants, two Kirin Ichiban beer gardens, and dance, musical, and martial arts performances.

There are also myriad tours and activities centered around the cherry blossoms. Shutterbugs can take a workshop on travel photography around the memorials, art fans can attend a gallery lecture centered around Japanese bird-and-flower paitings, and amateur botanists can take a self-guided spin around the National Arboretum to see other flowering cherry trees. Exercise enthusiasts should opt for the two-hour Blossoms by Bike tour along the Potomac, and if sitting’s more your speed, climb aboard DC Cruises for a view of the blossoms from the water.

See the complete calendar of events and performances and get visitor information here.

photo by Rachel Walker

 

via National Cherry Blossom Festival

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