Arches National Park
5. ARCHESJust across the road from the majestic Canyonlands national park, Arches hits our top five purely for the impressive natural phenomena which earned the park its name. With over 2000 naturally formed arches dotting its already astounding boulder strewn desert plains, this park seems to defy gravity with huge stone bridges stretching seemingly impossible distances.With a sparse, desert landscape, the sandy rock here is eroded over thousands of years to form the famous arches. These formations are collapsing and forming even today with the most recent collapse being Wall arch, which tumbled down in 2008.Even with the town of Moab only five minutes from the park entrance, the park is still a remarkable place from which to view the night sky. On a cloudless night the milky way can be seen easily and the stars are so bright that they seem to twinkle constantly. Although Bryce Canyon boasts some of the darkest night skies in the continental US, Arches is definitely a place for star gazers to get lost in the cosmos.Out of the thirteen national parks we visited, we decided the above five to be our favourite due to the varied landscape and scenery provided by each. Each and every park we visited was incredibly different and we enjoyed our time in every one. If you have the time to explore the national parks in the western USA, then you will be spoilt for choice!If this post had been a top ten instead of a favourite five, we would have had no problem filling all ten slots. For that reason we have decided to give an honourable mention to the parks that just missed out on making our list. Joshua Tree NP in southern California was the setting for one of the most magical sunsets we have ever seen. Also, getting that perfect picture at Grand Tetons NP where iconic mountains tower over reflective lakes and sweeping grass plains was worth the visit in itself. Finally, the geology of Bryce Canyon NP, with its precarious hoodoos created one of the most surreal environments that we encountered on our travels.How many of the USA’s national parks have you explored? Which parks were your favourites? We would love to hear from you, let us know if there’s a place you believe should be on our list!
Bonneville Salt Flats
6. Bonneville Salt Flats, USA.Vroooommmm!!! Whooshhhh!!! These are the sounds that is most likely to welcome you here. The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. These salt flats are famous for automobiles trying to set land speed records. Speed races regularly take place on the pans, with cars and motorbikes tearing across the plains at breakneck pace. Many world land speed records have been set and broken at Bonneville, so there’s a good chance you’ll witness history in the making.
Poison Spider Bicycles
This shop is hopping with locals and tourists alike. All hands always on deck to help you decide which two wheels are best for you, pump up your tires, or patch a flat. If you've got your own gear but need help route-finding, you can bet that the guys at Poison Spider have ridden it.
Sometimes you just wanna go downhill. Sometimes the top is too far away to get to in a day. That's when you call the guys at Coyote Shuttle. Use them to ride the Whole Enchilada, one of the most iconic mountain bike rides in the West. They'll take you up into the Aspen-laced LaSals and pick you up at the desert floor.
Wright's Civic Center
One of my favorite films, is Gattaca. From the sleek world in which it is set to the story that it ultimately tells, it is a movie that resonates with me no matter how many times I watch it. During my recent travels through Northern California, I had the immense pleasure of walking into the world I so much admire in Gattaca; figuratively of course. Gattaca was partially filmed at the landmark Marin County Civic Center designed by my favorite architect: Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ll say nothing of the man he was since some would argue he wasn’t to be admired for his character. In my opinion, the buildings and homes that he designed in his lifetime are truly works of art. Wright’s Civic Center (his last commission) is perhaps in a category all its own, even for him. It is vast, unusual, and when it was built – probably groundbreaking. From the slope of its bright blue roof to the round balls that punctuate the design at regular intervals to the perfect atrium space that anchors the building, it is a serene yet truly unusual space. Being inside the Civic Center is sort of like being in limbo. Now it’s neither the past nor the present. It represents a past view of the future that people once held. But it also represents the future that we can’t entirely foresee. It’s sleek and beautiful but timeless. Even its art deco bent seems fresh in 2010. After all, sleek and beautiful have always had their place in society. They are elements which never really go out of style. It’s why to me, the Civic Center was so perfect for 1962 (the year it was completed) and yet is still so perfect today.