Hanakapi’ai Falls via the Kalalau Trail

November 24, 2021

The Nā Pali Coast of Kauai

You may not know it, but you’re probably quite familiar with Kauai’s Nā Pali Coast. Jurassic Park ostensibly takes place on an island near Costa Rica. But the original film sourced its lush, tropical landscapes from Kauai. And the iconic helicopter shots bookending the movie’s main events prominently feature this stunning, rugged coastline.

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Rattlesnake Arches (McInnis Canyons)

May 2, 2021

Arrival at Pollock Bench

I found myself back in Grand Junction on a Sunday in May for round two of my COVID-19 vaccination. The next morning I’d receive a jab at a local pharmacy before driving back to Denver and the Front Range. Four weeks prior, vaccine appointments were impossible to book in the Front Range and high country, but Mesa County had plenty of free slots. Sadly, as of this writing (August 2021), Mesa County remains largely unvaccinated, with rapidly rising case counts.

But on this Sunday my goals involved something entirely different: a long hike through desert canyons to see the remote and beautiful Rattlesnake Arches.

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Rim Rock Drive and the Coke Ovens (Colorado Nat’l Monument)

May 6, 2020, Grand Junction

I spent a day at Colorado National Monument while moving across the country in May, 2020. There are three basic ways to get from New York to San Francisco, with I-80 being the fastest. But I chose I-70 because crossing through the heart of the Rockies and Southern Utah seemed like a way cooler experience.

No surprise: the continental divide and Utah’s red rock vistas did not disappoint! But Western Colorado was the real sleeper hit of this road trip. Glenwood Canyon was perhaps the coolest part of the entire drive coast-to-coast. Grand Junction was a surprisingly cute town with some great eats. And Colorado National Monument was just plain stunning.

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Devil’s Kitchen (Colorado Nat’l Monument)

carved stone steps take you to Devil's Kitchen at Colorado National Monument.

May 6, 2020, Colorado National Monument

The Devil’s Kitchen trail takes you on a short out-and-back to some super cool rock formations. It lies at the Eastern extreme on Colorado National Monument, near the park entrance. The same car park services the Serpent’s Trail and No Thoroughfare Canyon hikes. I highly recommend the former if it’s not too hot. Devil’s Kitchen proves short and easy and it packs a scenic punch—not to be missed!

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