THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE MOST ENCHANTING HIDDEN GEMS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Ross Lake, Tamolitch Pool, Mount Si… these are just a few of the most underrated but overwhelmingly drop-dead gorgeous off-the-beaten-path hidden gems of the Pacific Northwest.

 

Image via Flickr/Esther Lee

 

The Pacific Northwest possesses an abundance of natural wonders. The rugged coastline, the towering mountains, and the lush temperate rainforests are all what make the PNW so special. In search of that authentic Northwestern experience? Here are a few completely unique places you don’t want to miss.

 

Painted Hills

 

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PREPARE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HUMBOLDT REDWOODS STATE PARK

Image via Flickr/Miguel Vieira

 

The best way to start your RV adventure through the park is to cruise the Avenue of the Giants. Also known as State Route 254, this 31-mile stretch of scenic road was once part of the Pacific Coast Highway, and most of the drive is within Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It slowly winds its way past some of the oldest and tallest redwoods in the country, making for an incredible scenic drive.

 

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10 WAYS TO MAKE S’MORES THAT WILL ABSOLUTELY BLOW YOUR MIND

Please, sir, I want s’mores! The delectable combination of roasted marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers is a campfire staple; no one will argue with that. The s’more is a perfect camping treat. But whoever said you can’t improve upon perfection was wrong, because it turns out there are dozens of ways to make s’mores even more amazing! Here’s a run down of 10 ways s’mores can absolutely blow your mind.

 

 

Holiday s’mores

 

 

If you’re craving a taste of summer in the cold of winter, celebrating Christmas in July, or even if you’re fortunate enough to be camping somewhere during the holiday season, a little festive cheer on your s’mores will help put you in a festive spirit. Dip your marshmallow in melted chocolate, sprinkle on some graham cracker crumbs, and stick the whole thing on the end of a candy cane for a holly, jolly version of a s’more pop. Find the recipe here.

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THE MOST AMAZING CAMPGROUNDS FOR STARGAZING WITH THE KIDS

Part of the romance of camping is the chance to sleep under the stars. But due to the ever-growing light pollution in this country, campgrounds with really stellar stargazing are rare. On average, city residents can only see a handful of stars. People living in really rural areas may be able to see a couple thousand. But there are a few spots left in the country where you’ll be able to see up to 10,000 stars (and maybe even some planets!) with just the naked eye. It can hardly be surprising that the best sites can be found within our national parks, where civilization is kept at bay. One of best ways to choose a stargazing destination is to find a Dark Sky Park. Parks can be certified a Dark Sky Park on a national and international level. With that in mind, here are a few of the best spots in the US to see the stars:

 

Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park

 

Image Courtesy here

 

This Pennsylvania State Park is the darkest and most remote spot east of the Mississippi. The high elevation and the fact that the viewing field is on a plateau means that you’ll have a 360-degree view of the skies around you– perfect for stellar stargazing! It was the first park to be certified as Dark Sky in the US and the second in the world. On a clear night, you’ll be able to see ten thousand stars and have a vivid view of the Milky Way. There are easily accessible viewing areas if you only want to visit for a few hours, or you could spend the night in one of the park’s campsites. One of the most popular events is the Black Forest Star Party, which attracts hundreds of astronomers every year.

 

California’s Death Valley National Park

 

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THIS ROADTRIPPER’S GUIDE TO KEEPING THE KIDS ENTERTAINED ON THE ROAD IS BORDERLINE GENIUS

In this day and age, it’s really easy to hand an electronic device to your kid and tell him to have fun, you’ll be there in eight hours. But if you’re one of those parents who thinks a family trip should not include individual headsets (Hi mom!), then here are some suggestions for games to get the whole family involved.

 

1. The License Plate Game

 

Image Courtesy of Eli Christman

 

I know, I know, this is an obvious one! But this tired old game can become new again if you include prizes! The person who spots the greatest number of out-of-state plates gets to choose music. The person who spots the license plate from the furthest away gets to choose where you stop for lunch. A license plate with two Zs? That’s worth 30 minutes in the front seat! Feel free to pack tangible prizes for your kids as well. There’s nothing like a little competition to bring the kids together, as long you keep it light!

 

2. Name That Tune

 

This is a game lots of radio stations like to play during the morning commuting hours. It’s even easier to play if you have an iPod at your disposal, but a mixed CD works too. The person in charge (preferably not the driver; just concentrate on the road!) will choose a song and let it play for about 10 seconds. The first person to accurately name both the artist and the title wins! This is a great game for inspiring a little family karaoke as well.

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