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Adventure, Travel / January 22, 2017

4 places we’ll travel in 2017

Written by: Matt Minich

One of our resolutions this year is to travel more. Honestly, that’s one of our resolutions every year.

But we only get so much PTO. So we’ve spent the last three weeks scouring our guidebook collection and calling our best-traveled friends. That’s helped narrow our field of vision down to four must-do trips.

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

Cliff dwellings in the Cedar Mesa Citadel Ruins. BLM photo.

Dirt trails and sandstone towers in the Valley of the Gods. BLM photo.

Southern Utah makes our travel shortlist every year—the region offers more outdoor recreation potential than almost anywhere else on Earth. So when we heard President Obama had declared a new 1.3 million acre national monument there, it easily took our top spot.

Bears Ears National Monument protects land that has been sacred to Native American tribes for centuries. Within the monument’s borders are petroglyphs, cliff dwellings, and other paleontological sites that date as far back as 8,500 years.

It’s also home to extreme, alien geography and almost endless mountain biking and rock climbing potential. This is still southern Utah, after all.

If you go: Weather is friendliest from late August to mid-October. For suggested hikes in the monument, check out these tips from the Grand Canyon Trust (the list was written before the official designation, but the hikes haven’t changed any). You can read the White House’s reasons to protect the monument here

Wild Zimbabwe

Zambezi National Park houses all of Africa's most iconic wildlife, including the "big five". Photo by Brian Gatwicke.

Victoria Falls is rightly one of the most famous natural features on Earth. Photo by Mario Micklisch.

Travelers have reason to be wary of Zimbabwe. The former colony has experienced considerable growing pains, and undulating domestic conflict has led some three million natives to flee the African nation.

But Zimbabwe is on the rise. The country now uses the U.S. Dollar as its currency (no more $40,000,000 loaves of bread), and political strife appears to be at a lull. An ultra-modern renovation of the airport has dropped the prices of international flights (round-trip tickets from NYC dip as low at $1,000).

Oh… and Zimbabwe is full of awesome stuff. The world-famous Victoria Falls are a must-see, as are wildlife refuges like Zambezi National Park (this park is adjacent to Victoria Falls). The capital city of Harare is considered one of the most beautiful cities on the continent.

If you go: Zimbabwe’s dry season stretched from May to October, but the tourist crowds don’t really hit the country until July. Time your visit for May or June to see the most wildlife and wait in the fewest lines. 

Our friends at ROW Adventures guide a great eight-day tour of the country’s rivers. 

 

Nepal’s Langtang Region

Tibetan prayer flags are ubiquitous in Nepal's Langtang border region. Photo by Christian Hupfer.

Villages along the Tamang Heritage Trail maintain the character of rural Tibet. Photo by Zhushman.

Nepal’s Langtang Trekking Region, which borders Tibet, was hard hit by the country’s 2015 earthquake. Many of the region’s long treks are still too damaged to hike, which has kept away most tourists.

But our friends in the field have reported that the newly-established Tamang Heritage Trail is still in one piece. That makes this trek, which has always been off the beaten path, one of Nepal’s truly hidden gems. So don’t tell anyone… okay?

The week-long trek passes alpine lakes, high mountain passes, and traditional Tibetan villages. It’s designed to introduce tourists to the Tamang people: Tibetan transplants that still maintain their traditional lifestyle.

If you go: Peak trekking season is in October and November—that’s when temperatures are mildest and the air is clear enough for great mountain views. For those willing to endure lower temperatures, the crowds level off around December. Fog often mars the view in the spring and summer. 

The good people of Intrepid offer a 15-day tour of the region that includes a trek of the Tamang Heritage Trail. 

 

Casper, Wyoming

The peaks of Grand Teton National Park, about four hours' drive from Casper. Sam Beebe photo.

Casper is cowboy country in the traditional sense of the word. Photo by Josh Hallett.

This one is a bit of a gimme. Anyone in Casper on August 21 will experience two and a half minutes of a complete solar eclipse. It’ll be the first solar eclipse visible from the Lower 48 in more than 40 years.

To be fair, the full eclipse can be seen in many parts of the U.S. But we’ve chosen the Cowboy State because its high elevation and dry climate make cloudy skies unlikely.

And as a bonus, Casper is relatively near some stunning public lands. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are likely to be crowded (they’re worth it), but the trails in Gros Venture Wilderness always offer solitude.

If you go: At this point, you’re better off camping in the wilderness or national forest than seeking a hotel in town. But be sure to drive in to downtown Casper for the eclipse itself—main street is positioned almost perfectly.

What’s on your travel agenda for 2017? Email us at [email protected] to let us know.

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about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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