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Tara Schatz

I'm a part-time adventurer and lover of beauty, as well as a freelance writer and photographer. When I'm not off exploring, I am writing from a little blue house in Vermont.

This is straight-up, but just when you start to feel it, you get to the top. The views are awesome - Champlain Valley, Burlington, and even New York's Adirondacks.

This was a challenging hike with lots of rock hopping. My legs were feeling it afterward, but oh my goodness, the views were incredible!!

I didn't get any of the spectacular views that other hikers have posted photos of because the whole ridge was enveloped in a dense fog. I loved the trail though - woods, waterfalls, rocky outcroppings. It's stunning, and dog-friendly too!

In addition to Marby Mill, there's a short trail where you can see historic farm buildings and tools. Dogs are permitted and it's a good spot to stretch your legs while traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I have never seen such elaborate flower gardens in a town park. Throw in the water view, picnic tables, playground equipment, and outdoor theater in the summer, and this park becomes a must-visit destination!

While most people flock to Shenandoah National Park nearby, this park doesn't see as many visitors. I only did a portion of this trail, which was mostly wooded with great views from the ridge. I tent-camped in the park and it was very quiet.

This was a more secluded area than some of the other spots with geysers and hot springs and we were so happy to be able to explore at our leisure without a lot of traffic. Not as dramatic as Grand Prismatic, but still lots of great views and cool geothermal features.

This is a nice easy hike for all abilities. The falls are beautiful and the hike is through the dark mossy forest that is so common in this area. Be on the lookout for mushrooms. Once you get past Sol Duc Falls, the crowds thin out and you will be mostly alone on the trail to Deer Lake, which is really beautiful as well.

We had a friendly bison in the campground during our stay. There isn't a lot of shade, but the tall grass gives you some property. The campground is centrally located - near the loop road, hiking trails, and the super-cute town of Medora.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is so underrated! We visited 10+ national parks on a recent road trip and we saw more wildlife in this park than any other. Drive the route just before sunset to see the bison and horses on the move. There are short trails along the route as well. It's one way.

These falls are awesome! You are not allowed to swim under the falls, but you walk right next to the river on the gorge trail and swimming/wading is permitted there. You can also visit Seneca Lake while you're here. The lake is right across the road from the trail. Beautiful area!

Bingham Falls draws a crowd in the summer, and there is often trash along the trail. Still, if you can visit early in the morning, it's a beautiful, peaceful spot that is 100% worth visiting. Bring your swimsuit in the summer - it's a great spot for cliff jumping.

This was one of our favorite campgrounds on a recent cross-country camping trip. The campground is small, with shaded picnic tables, water, and a nice bathhouse. There are friendly jackrabbits everywhere, as well as lizards. The campground is like an oasis in the desert, but Cathedral Gorge is dry and treeless. You can explore the canyons and caverns and hike a short trail to a lookout. We found a family of baby foxes and they were so interested in us. We kept our distance but got some great photos. This was in July.

This is a pretty easy trail until you get to the dunes before the beach, then it's a bit of a climb. The beach is very private and beautiful - in my opinion, it's the nicest in the whole park. The bugs in the summer were so bad! We were running away from them! Lots of birds, though, which was awesome.

This was a really hot hike in the summer - good thing that it's right next to the lake! There are cute little lizards running around everywhere too. I love that the trail goes right up and over the massive dunes. It's also really sandy, so I recommend sandals instead of sneakers or hiking shoes, at least if you're hiking in the summer.

This drive is best done in the early morning or around sunset. There are tons of bison, but even more cars, which can be a drag if you go in the middle of the day. The burros were super cute as well!

Definitely one of the must-visit attractions if you find yourself in Custer State Park without a huge RV. The road is winding and steep, with some little tunnels that you have to drive through. There are places to stop, hike, and explore along the way.

Most of the 3-mile Sunday Gulch Loop is pretty easy, but the trail is usually rated as difficult because of one section where you scramble up (or down) boulders, hop across streams and small waterfalls, and pull yourself along on metal handrails. The strenuous section makes up about a quarter-mile of the whole trail. This is also a busy section because people will hike this part and then turn around. The rest of the loop is very quiet.

This was a really cool hike! The ladder is about 50 feet. It was less sketchy going up than coming down! Once you're up, you still have to be mindful of drops and ledges along the trail, so I wouldn't recommend this for young kids.

This was the first trail we tackled after rolling into Badlands National Park. There is a nice juniper forest that you have to walk through. Since we were there in the middle of the day in the summer, there were lots of deer in the woods trying to get out of the sun. They were not at all afraid of people! The views from the Cliff Shelf Trail are awesome, and it's easy enough for families with small kids.

This campground is WAY out there! It's 100% free, but you probably pay for it in the long run with wear and tear on your car. No water or fire rings, but there are picnic tables, some of which have a roof for shade. The sites do fill up and it feels a bit like festival camping since there aren't any trees. There was a resident buffalo when we were there. He just wandered around the campground ignoring everyone. Very cool experience!

We started at the campground and hiked around the lake after hitting Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Once we got past those hot spots where the ferry lands, it was so quiet. We didn't see another person - just awesome mountain views! We heard from another hiker that there was a black bear and a cub in the area, but we never saw them.

There are a lot of things to do here, especially if you like spending time near the water. Swimming is good, you can rent canoes, go crabbing off the pier, or just relax on the beach. There is a short nature trail, but I don't recommend it - there was so much poison ivy, and it was hard to avoid!

We parked here and took one of the trails down to the river. There are signs warning about bears in the area, so we tried to be loud and didn't travel too far beyond where the trail meets the river. This is such a gorgeous spot. The water was frigid in July!