More importantly WE REALLY NEEDED A BEACH DAY. Our AirBnb host and locals that worked or lived in the building all recommended Caleta Tankah for the best beach day in the area. We decided to check it out for our first day in Tulum.
The Hotel and Beach Club, are on a National Park beach facing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. More importantly, there are clean flush restrooms and changing areas in the Beach Club.
You pay a $15 usd entry fee that gets you a towel, access to the beach/cenote and Beach Club area where you can order drinks and food. We grabbed a tropical drink at the bar and headed out to the beach to claim some chairs with a shaded area before the shenanigans began.
Follow the signs to the Cenote…
Caleta Tankah or the “secret cenote” was magical. The colors of the cenote are absolutely breathtaking. Maybe I’m a bit biased this being my first cenote encounter and all… but Caleta Tankah was my favorite cenote we visited. Why Hello, Gorgeous.
Joshua Tree National Park is made up of two very distinct desert ecosystems. The harsh and unforgiving climates are surprisingly rich in biodiversity and home to many species. This past November I spent a beautiful Saturday with Logan exploring the Joshua Tree National Park.
I have been flying out to the Los Angeles (LA) area every 3-4 months for business the last couple years. I counted, and it came to 14 trips in total out to LA. Not bad for someone who 3 years ago had never set foot in California huh?!
At the end of the work week, Logan flew out to L.A. and we spent the weekend exploring east of the city. I finally took advantage of being that close! It was my last scheduled trip of the year with the holidays coming up and I wanted to make the most of it.
The desert gets more and more beautiful each time I visit. I used to look out at deserts and see a dry dead wasteland with no beauty. Of course that wasn’t true. Sure, the desert isn’t a vibrantly colored, obvious, in your face type of pretty…but if you look a little deeper than the surface, you’ll see it.
Once I took the time to really look, a palette of earth tones, calming and soothing rushed over me. As I looked even harder I could see life thriving, under the harshest of conditions. Fighting everyday to survive, never knowing when or if the next rain would bring relief from the constant heat. Our journey in the park started north, in the cooler Mojave.
As the temperature of our planet continues to rise, the deserts will become hotter, experiencing more droughts, and threatening the survival of the parks plants and animals. These conditions will likely affect the species that have inspired the namesake of the park itself- the Joshua tree. The bursting Joshua trees and other yuccas indicated we were still in the Mojave as we continued our drive south.
The Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) is a member of the Agave family and is a good indicator that you are in the Mojave Desert. However you may also find it growing in the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona or mixed with pines in the San Bernardino Mountains.
As we drove south through the park, we stopped to take in the breathtaking views of “Keys View”. Unfortunately in fear of being blown over the cliff by the gail force winds, we weren’t able to stay long.
It was incredible to watch the transformation of the desert as we drove through the park. Descending into the Colorado desert, you could feel the temperature rise, as we said goodbye to the Mojave. The variety of plants and animals are what make the Mojave Desert distinguishable from the Colorado as you drive throughout the park.
Climate change could affect more than just the beloved Joshua Tree. Rainfall in the desert is critical to the survival of the desert tortoise and the bighorn sheep that call the park home. Severe drought will force the animals into higher elevations where more rainfall is likely.
Cholla Cactus Garden
These species have adapted over centuries in order to survive the harsh conditions of the two deserts. It’s truly a remarkable, magical place, the desert.
I hope you enjoyed my journey through Joshua Tree National Park. I would love to hear your comments below.
Jasper National Park is home to some of the best hiking, skiing, and climbing in the world, making it an adventurer’s paradise. The park is one of the largest National Parks in the Canadian Rockies, offering over 4,000 mi² of vast wilderness to explore. From peaks extending over 11,000 square kilometers, to glacier rivers snaking along the base there are endless adventurous activities in Jasper.
Here’s my adventurers guide to Jasper National Park!
The National Park campgrounds in Canada fill up FAST. With no reservations prior to arriving, we took our chances and ended up in the overflow lot of Snaring Campground. There were not any facilities- because there weren’t any designated campsites- you just pitched your tent where you could find a spot! Rustic style. Don’t know what to pack when camping in national parks? Check out my Packing Guide: Camping National Parks .
Go White Water Rafting
White water rafting was the perfect mid afternoon adventure. Cool off in the refreshing glacier waters as you navigate your way along the Lower Athabasca River. I sat front and center, unbeknownst to me- that was the danger zone. I found out when we hit the first rapid and a wall of ice cold water came up over my head. We went through Jasper Rafting Adventures for our tour, and had a great first time rafting experience. The two hour trip seemed a bit short for us- I would recommend doing the longer river run if you have the time.
Hike the Sulphur Skyline
If you only do one hike while you’re in Jasper- this should be it. The Sulphur Skyline hiking trail has some of the most spectacular panoramas that Jasper has to offer. The hike is moderate with a consistent incline, dress appropriately (hiking shoes recommended), take lots of water, and break along the trail. The 8.0 km to the summit will take around 1.5-3 hours to reach (one way). It was hot and rainy at the trail head, and cold and windy by the time we reached the summit- pack a jacket and a lunch! Have a picnic at the summit and enjoy those pano views!
Go Rock Climbing
I’m not going to lie- this one pushed me out of my comfort zone. See the little pink blob at the bottom? That’s me, and this rock was nothing like the rock wall I practiced on at home. The rock climbing scene at Jasper is legendary. People flock from all over the world to climb the incredible Canadian rockies. We went through Rockaboo Mountain Adventure for our tour, and had an incredible experience! We did the 4 hour tour which began at the office in Jasper. Our certified ACMG guide was so knowledgeable and friendly- which helped with the nerves. All the climbing gear you need for the adventure is provided- including shoes.
Spot a Bear
The wildlife in Jasper National Park is abundant. We saw mountain goats, several black bears, and elk. Much to Grace’s dismay, we saw no moose. The park is home to both black and grizzly bears- carry bear spray if you plan on hiking. You never want to surprise a bear, make noise to alert them while you’re on the trail. We didn’t see any bears while hiking, but as we drove around the park we were able to view a few from inside our car at a safe distance. DO NOT approach the bears, and please be mindful of your speed while driving through the park, as many animals are killed each year due to vehicles.
Hang Out In a Tree
Find the perfect spot to relax for the day, or stack your hammocks with your travel crew to see how high you can build! Looking for a great summer hammock? Check out Madera, for every hammock you purchase, two trees will be planted!
Know Before You Go
Help preserve the beauty of this park and practice the leave no trace principles.
Showers are only available at the Whistlers Campground, but if you camp at Wapiti Campground they allow you to use the showers at Whistlers.
It is a 3-3.5 hour drive from Edmonton or Calgary. I would recommend flying into one city and out of the other to save on drive time.
There is a cute downtown area inside the park with shops, restaurants, and a grocery store.
Olympic National Park is located in the state of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the United States. The national park is home to several different ecosystems, from mountain peaks to old-growth forests. This 3 day itinerary for Olympic National Park will tell all!
Let’s talk about this trips “sign picture”. For those that don’t know, it’s a tradition of mine to get a picture with my fellow campers by the national park sign when we visit. My travel crew knows the routine… they go stand in front of the sign while I set up the tripod.
From left to right we’ve got Kaytee, Logan, Grace, and half of me. Let me explain…Well this trip, I was setting up my tripod/timer all that jazz- guy drives by and yells out his window “you can’t park there! MOVE!” …whoops. I had no idea we couldn’t park there… better make this quick. So I hit the shutter button and ran backwards…hoping that maybe I’d make it in time to get this in one shot. Above is the result of that one shot.
Fly into Seattle
Now that my best friend Grace lives in Seattle, I love the state of Washington even more. With the heavy traveling we did in the spring, we wanted to keep our July 4th trip as cheap as we could. Camping’s cheap! So, this year we celebrated Independence Day while camping in Olympic National Park! With not nearly enough time in Seattle, we left for the park the day after we arrived. If you have time, explore the city! For what to do, check out my post onThe Perfect Weekend in Seattle
3 Day Itinerary for Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park protects nearly one million acres of vast wilderness diversity. From glacier-capped mountains to old growth rain forests, and over 70 miles of ocean coastline, this park has so much to explore. It’s hard to capture all the beauty in just 3 days, we absolutely will be coming back to explore more one day!
DAY 1: Lake Crescent
We drove 3.5 hours from Seattle to Fairholme campground. Slightly worried we might not get a site this close to the holiday (most campgrounds inside the park are walk-in, and do not take reservations). The campground had flush toilets, but no shower facilities or electric. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive at an almost empty campground. We picked a stunning site with massive mossy trees towering around us, overlooking the incredible Lake Crescent. We set up camp and set out to explore the Lake Crescent area. For what to pack, check out my Packing Guide: Camping National Parks
Lake Crescent lies 18 miles west of Port Angeles in the northern hills of Olympic National Park. We could see right down to the bottom through the crystal clear waters. I would recommend kayaking on this beautiful lake if you have the time!
Stay at Fairholme Campground
Next we hiked the moderate 1.7 mile trail to Marymere Falls. There are two viewpoints to see the falls. At the end of the hike you’ll reach the falls lower viewpoint at the bottom of the stairs. Continue up the stairs to reach the top viewpoint.
Barnes Creek Trail
A peaceful creekside hike with an option to check out Marymere Falls (enter at falls trailhead, continue forward at the junction or go right and check out the falls). This hike takes you through a Jurassic Park looking forest of old growth and lush vegetation. We hiked the barnes creek trail after Marymere Falls, and the solitude from the crowds gave the forest a much different feeling. The trail rolls mostly up and rarely down for 5.5 miles.
DAY 2: Sul Duc
We woke up early to pack up our campsite and have breakfast before we hit the trails for the day. Our plan was to explore the Sol Duc area, and then head towards the coastline to set up camp in Mora, a campground just outside of La Push. You can visit the lush forest near Sol Duc for a day hike or an overnight.
Sul Duc Falls
Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail is a flat short 1.6 mile trail through old growth forest that leads to a beautiful three prong waterfall. The three falls rage under a wooden bridge with crystal blue waters on the other end. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the waterfall capture rainbows in the spray! We continued past the falls and headed towards deer lake.
The trail to Deer Lake from Sul Duc Falls is a 6.3 mile hike with 3 backpacking campsites along the trail. This mostly up and rarely down hike is rated as moderate. The hike features a stunning lake at the end (pack food and picnic at the lake!) To get there, begin heading down the trail to Sol Duc Falls. Once you’re there, pass the entrance to the Lover’s Lane Trail, the route begins climbing up to Deer Lake.
DAY 3: La Push
Our last day in the park was spent relaxing on the coast, recovering from our hikes. The Mora Campground we camped at was on the north side of the river, on the south side is First Beach. First Beach is located within the Quileute Indian Reservation, and surrounded by Olympic National Park. The beach is sandy with a crescent shaped shoreline that’s popular with surfers. We stopped here first, and explored the rocks looking for sea creatures during the low tide.
Starfish are naturally born as extremely fragile. A simple gentle poke might hurt them, not to mention a strong grab to get them out of water. NEVER FORCEFULLY REMOVE A STARFISH FROM THE WATER. These creatures have tiny structures that make up their bodies.
** I only touched the starfish to transport him safely back to the sea **
With a shorter hike than Third Beach, we decided to do the 4 mile round trip hike to Second Beach after First Beach. The trail was interesting, after 0.3 miles, the descent becomes more defined, and the trail becomes a switchback crib staircase which leads down to the beach. We lounged lazily in the sun for hours on this beach. Exploring and climbing the rocks that jutted out from the ocean until it was time for the drive home.
The month of May has been absolutely insane for me. For starters, it’s my 30th birthday month (HUGE, I know). For whatever reason, turning 30 always scared the hell out of me. I even came up with a 30 Before 30 List of things I wanted to accomplish before the big day (I did pretty awesome).
I spent a good portion of the last 6 weeks (End of April- May) living out of either a suitcase or a backpack. Sleeping in tents, hotels, airports, and cabins. Traveling back and forth across the country….twice. First time by plane, second time was by plane AND moving truck. I explored my first European country. Then before I beat the jet lag, I took another road trip over Memorial Day weekend. This time across my home state of Michigan. So this all translates to: I’ve had absolutely no time to write about each of the adventures individually (which I intend on doing).
Meanwhile- I came to the realization that the last 6 weeks was one giant adventure, made up of back to back mini adventures! Here’s a recap, with a super awesome picture from 10 places I visited this spring.
Los Angeles, CA
I started out in LA for work the last week of April- and it’s been a giant blur since.
I was home for 48 hours after I got home from LA, in which time I attended a baby shower, and a birthday party. Then it was off to Chicago, where I stayed for less than 24 hours to start the next mini adventure.
Badlands National Park, SD
We left Chicago EARLY, and started the long drive across the country to Seattle. We drove through four states before we made it to our first stop.
We were in South Dakota after 12 hours (not including stops). Arriving at night- we set up camp and spent the night at a campground inside the park. Check out my full post on Badlands National Park for more details!
Mount Rushmore National Monument, SD
The drive from Badlands to Mount Rushmore was only about an hour or so. The stop helped break up the long drive we still had ahead of us- and it was pretty cool to see the National Monument I never in a million years anticipated I’d see.
Grand Teton National Park, WY
We drove another 8 hours into the state of Wyoming. I really struggled choosing just one picture for these next two stops. Grand Teton National Park was incredible. We spent a day exploring the park and fell in love with the snow-covered peaks. We crashed at a hostel inside the park (no campgrounds were open this early in the season).
Yellowstone National Park, WY
We camped for the next two nights in the colorful world of Yellowstone. Only the west half of the park was open during our time there. Thankfully the Grand Prismatic spring was accessible (I had pre-warned Grace I might lose my shit if I missed it).
The last 12 hours of our trip from Yellowstone to Seattle took us through 3 more states (Montana, Idaho, Washington). When we finally arrived in Seattle, I had 24 hours there before my flight home. Check out my post on The Perfect Weekend in Seattle for more details on this amazing city.
After being on the road for a week, I was looking forward to coming home for a few days. I was going to be home for FIVE WHOLE DAYS before we left on the next trip. Check out my post on The Perfect Weekend in Detroit for a local’s guide on my favorite city.
The entire week, Logan and I planned on leaving for Iceland Saturday night (the day before Mother’s Day). We made plans with our families, put off laundry and packing (we had all day Saturday after all) and figured we’d get through the work week and worry about everything Iceland on Saturday.
Friday night I double checked our tickets and realized, our flight actually departs at 12:30 THAT NIGHT! We now had 4 hours to drop off the dogs/do laundry/clean the apartment/pack our bags/get to the airport…
I planned my Iceland trip almost 5 years ago. It was always the #1 spot on my list of places I wanted to go- I just never seemed to make it there. Well after 5 years of waiting… I finally made it! My favorite travel crew and I set off on a week long road trip around the country that ended with my 30th birthday hike to the bluest waterfall I’d ever seen.
“Up North”, MI
We got home from Iceland exhausted and jet lagged. At this point the constant traveling was beginning to catch up with me. I’d been in so many different time zones the last couple weeks, I had no idea what day it was, what time zone I was in, or if I should be awake or sleeping (Iceland never got fully dark at night, so our sleeping schedules were all sorts of messed up.)
After spending a few days at home recovering and starting to sort our life back out, next thing we knew- the week was over, and it was Memorial Day weekend.
I spent my Memorial Day weekend with Logan and the fur babies “up north” in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula, MI) We spent time relaxing at our camp site, grilling, and playing tourist in our own state. We stayed at Indian Lake State Campground which was only 15 minutes from Kitch-iti-Kipi, and an hour from Pictured Rocks National Lake shore.