My top 5 hikes in Washington State

I couldn’t be more lucky than moving to Washington from France. This is where I found out my love for hiking and how much I enjoy my time in the mountains. Here’s my 5 favorite hikes I have done:

1.Burroughs Mountain at Mount Rainier National Park

This trail is amazing from beginning to end and offers one of the most dramatic views of Mt Rainier. This hike is a 9 mile round trip with a 2,600ft elevation gain. There are many possibilities on this trail. You can stop at the first, second or third Burroughs. Usually, people turn around at the second. We reached the third Burroughs with an extra effort, which was worth it. We were so close to Mt Rainier, we felt like we could touch it.

《 Featured image on top is from this hike 》

3rd Burroughs 

2. Tolmie Peak & Eunice Lake

Very nice 7.5 miles with an 1,100ft that leads first to Eunice Lake. After 1 mile with a steep uphill, we reached an old fire lookout with a stunning view of Mt Rainier and an amazing sapphire blue color of Eunice Lake below. Most people stop at the fire lookout. We decided to leave the crowd and go a bit further and it was really incredible.

Captured from the trail
From the Fire Lookout
We kept going after the Fire Lookout

3. Tuck and Robin Lakes

Worth the effort but more a hike for backpacking. This very steep hike will take you to paradise. I recorded about 13 miles roundtrip and 3,500ft elevation gain. It was flat for the first 3 miles, then we gained about 1000ft every mile. Passed Tuck Lake, the trail became indistinct and hard to follow. Some rock stacks helped us find the way.

Tuck Lake


Robin Lake

 


4. Crytal Peak and Lake

We did two hikes in one. We hiked Crystal Peak first and had a stunning view from the summit. The weather was clear and it was possible to see six volcanoes spanning two states. Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt Adams, Mt Hood. We caught a nice rainbow before we went down to the lakes. The upper lake is much larger than the lower lake.   We recorded about 11 miles and 4,000ft elevation gain.

View of Mt Rainier with silly friends
Rainbow with view of Mt Adams on the left and Mt St Helens on the right
Upper Crystal Lake from Crystal Peak
Upper Crystal Lake

5. Rattlesnake Ledge

Short and very popular hike at 1h drive from Seattle. Rattlesnake ledge is a 4 mile roundtrip with an 1,160ft elevation gain. At the top, there is a view of the Cedar River wathershed, Mt Si, Mt Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake. Also, it’s nice to stay at the lake especially during the summer. Here’s some pictures from the last time I went there but the color of the lake when it’s sunny is more beautiful.

Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Lake

I’m sure I will change my top 5 hikes by June. I won the permit for the Enchantment.

I’m going to spend 2 nights with some friends at Colchuck Lake. I’m looking forward to it!

😎 STAY TUNED 😎

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Road Trip in Oregon

days in Oregon, Exploring nature…

How much did it cost?

Airbnb: $100 for 2 nights. We wanted an isolate room, something similar to a hotel room. We both booked 1 night as our first stay and got $40 off for $75 spent. If it’s the first time you use Airbnb, then use this link for $40 off your stay.

Gas: $60

Food: $100

Permit and passes: $40, which was $30 Northwest Forest Pass (valid 1 year) and 2 x $5 for State Parks.

🚗 We used my boyfriend’s car but if you have to rent one it was around $100 for 3 days

1st day

We left on Sunday morning around 3:30am and arrived at Ecola State Park at 7am. There is a $5 fee entrance that you pay at a kiosk. It was still grey and cloudy but the view of Cannon Beach was amazing. We stayed there about 40min and the scenery turned blue just before we left.

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7am
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7:30 am

 Then, we went to Cannon Beach where we spent about 2h, walking on the beach, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery… it was unreal! The sand was wet and gave a nice reflection. We were so happy to be there and explore the coast.

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We headed to Cape Kiwanda, which is 1h30 drive from Cannon Beach. My GPS took us to a private road, so I decided to park the car of the side on the road where two other cars were parked. Well, we learnt later that the parking lot was 5min drive further 😅 GPS’s fault 😂 We spent about 2 hours, walked on the beach, looked at people paragliding, and climbed uphill where we had an amazing view.

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Another hour drive and we hiked Drift Creek Falls, which is an easy 2.7 mile hike. We arrived there around 3pm and the parking lot was full. We parked the car on the side of the road. It took us 1h15 to make it. Really nice hike that leads to a bridge with a view of the waterfall, then you can hike down to the waterfall.

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From the bridge

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Got soaked!!!

Last stop for the day was at Devils Punch Bowl, which was a 50min drive from Drift Creek Falls. It was high tide, so we couldn’t go down to the beach and explore inside. If you are going, I recommend you to check for the low tide.

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Then, we drove to Corvallis where we stayed for the night via Airbnb. It was a nice detached room with bathroom.

2nd Day

We left early, around 7am, and went to Silver Falls State Park. Known for its 10 waterfalls loop hike. We parked at the South Waterfall’s parking lot. The loop is about 9 miles. Not really difficult. This is a very busy trail. We followed the recommendation I read online “go on the weekday and early”. Well, we basically had the trail for ourselves. Many cars and people were there when we got back to the parking lot around 1pm. Glad we started early. Our favorite waterfall was the North Falls but they were all pretty awesome.

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South Falls
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Lower South Falls
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Double Falls
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North Falls

Then, we wanted to hike Abiqua Falls, which is 50 min drive from Silver Falls State Park. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the road conditions and we had to park about 2 mile from the trailhead. On our way I started to get a really bad headache and I didn’t feel good enough to hike 5 miles instead of 1 like I planned. Well, we just saw a dozen waterfalls and more were planned for the next day.

We drove to Gresham where we spent the night via Airbnb. We really loved this place. It was really comfy in the basement, with TV, couch, laundry room, private bathroom, 2 bedrooms and access to the hot tub.

3rd day

We left early morning around 7am and went first to Multnomah Falls. This place is very popular and I wanted a chance to enjoy it without the crazy crowd. Well, we were lucky. We saw a couple people but no one on our pics 📸🖒

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Then we went to Wahclella Falls. 2 miles. Very easy. It ends with a little loop that leads to an amazing waterfall.

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Next stop was Elowah Falls. 1.4 miles. The trail was actually closed because of a mudslide but we gave it a try anyway and it was worth it. A really small part of the trail collapsed but we could get passed it easily. Another way was possible but really steep. The trail kept going after the waterfall but we turned back and kept going up the fork to see Upper McCord Creek Falls, which was not in my plan and added another mile to the hike.

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Elowah Falls
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Upper McCord Creek Falls

Heading to Wahkeena Falls, we made a stop at Horsetail Falls, which was right on the side of the road. Really nice stop on our way.

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We made a fast stop at Wahkeena Falls, which was 1.4 miles out and back. Pretty cool but not as impressive as Elowah Falls or Wahclella Falls.

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Last stop was at Latourell Falls. First we went to the top but the view is definitely not as good as the bottom. Despite all the cars in the parking lot we had the waterfall for ourselves at least 5min. We went behind the waterfall. Probably the most powerful waterfall we saw on this trip. We were so soaked after this hike that we had to change our clothes in the parking lot and unfortunately I forgot to put the bag back in the car that had our hiking shoes and pants in it that added an additional $250 to the road trip’s cost. My bad 😑

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This was a 3 days road trip but if you have only 2 days (weekend) I will recommend you these places:

  • Cannon beach
  • Cape Kiwanda
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Whaclella Falls
  • Latourell Falls

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    Road Trip #2 : Colorado-South Dakota-Nebraska (August 2016)

    days in Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska

    I did this road trip by myself in August 2016. I was a bit stressed and anxious cause it was the first time I travelled alone in National Parks. I planned to camp and backpack every night but I mostly slept in my car because I was too afraid. I will do better next time, though. 😅

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    HOW MUCH DID IT COST?

    I booked the flight and the rental 2 weeks before my trip.

    Flight: $190 from Seattle,WA to Denver,CO

    Rental: $292 for 5 days with Alamo

    Gas: $85

    Ticket for speeding: $145 😐😅

    Backpacking: FREE. One night at Badlands National park, I slept in my car the other nights.

    Food: $110

    Visit:

    • Wind Cave: $12
    • Jewel Cave: $12
    • Mt Rushmore: $10

     

    Where did I go?

    》》》 There will be a post in more detail about each destination except for Mount Rushmore and Nebraska《《《

    STAY TUNED

     

    I landed around 12am in Denver in Colorado, got the car and headed to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. It was really hard to stay awake, drive about 6h at night and not sleep at all. My itinerary made me drive a part of Wyoming State where I caught an amazing sunrise before I entered in South Dakota State. 

    I arrived at Wind Cave around 8am, walked around and took one of the tours offered by the Park. During the tour, I met a very nice guy named Jacob from Chicago. We shared the trip as far as Badlands, following each other with our own car.

    Day 1

    Wind Cave National Park

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    Then, Jacob and I headed to Jewel Cave around 11 am, which was 30min drive from Wind Cave.

    Jewel Cave National Monument

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    Finally we drove to Mt Rushmore, which was 45min drive from Jewel Cave.

    Mount Rushmore National Monument

    Majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt & Abraham Lincoln

    This place was why I wanted to go to South Dakota. After a few google searches, I added Wind Cave, Jewel cave and Badlands to my list. We arrived there mid-afternoon and spent about 2h.

    The first impressive view of Mt Rushmore was from the Avenue of Flags

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    We admired the Mt Rushmore from Grand View Terrace

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    Took a walk on Nature Trail to Scultor’s studio

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    And kept going on Presidential Trail that took us very close and almost under the Sculture

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    Then, we drove around a bit and waited for the night before we went back. It was really cool to see in the dark

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    We decided to drive as close as possible to Badlands and slept in our car in a rest area about 45min drive from Badlands.

    Where to sleep?

    Camping opportunities are available throughout the surrounding area.

    Lodging is available in many nearby communities: Keystone (3 miles away), Hill City (13 miles away), Custer (20 miles away) and Rapid City (24 miles away)

    You can check out Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association

    Day 2

    Badlands National Park

    It was an incredible experience. I loved this Park. We did a hike, stopped at some overlooks and did backpacking for the night.

    More details in an upcoming blog post 》》》Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to my blog ❤

    Day 3

    Nebraska

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    It was time to say goodbye to Jacob and keep going toward Rocky Mountain in Colorado. I added a drive in Nebraska at Oglala National Grassland and Scotts Bluff National Monument. This took me almost the entire day. I drove on a dirt road for hours because of Oglala National Grassland. I didn’t see anything special and when the GPS told me I was there, I was actually on someone’s property and had to drive through. Maybe I had a bad experience because the GPS but I didn’t like it.

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    Scotts Bluff was a bit better. It has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern travelers. I drove to the summit, checked out North and South overlooks, which took me about an hour.

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    I probably wouldn’t do it again, I would definitely save my time and gas for something else.

    Finally, I arrived at Rocky Mountain around 7:30pm, enjoyed the sunset and parked the car at Fall River Visitor Center where I spent 2 nights sleeping in the car.

    Day 4 & 5

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    I spent 2 days hiking as much as I could. I really liked this Park.  In my opinion, 2 days is not enough. I mostly spent my time on the East side of the park.

    More details in an upcoming blog post 》》》Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to my blog ❤

     

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    Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley

     Horseshoe Bend 

    It’s a Horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page in Northern Arizona and adjacent to the border with Utah. It’s a 1.5 mile hike roundtrip from U.S. Route 89 and leads to the top of a cliff, overlooking Horseshoe Bend and the Colorado River over 1,000 feet below. The trail is accessible to people for all hiking skill levels and takes between 30min and 1h. The trail is made of sand and sandstone. There is no reservation needed. The National Park pass will be required. It might be difficult to park if the place is crowded.

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    Trail
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    Sunset

    Antelope Canyon

    It’s a slot canyon located on Navajo land East of Page. A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rocks. The color of the walls is of a very intense orange. There are 2 different canyons : Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon but most of the time people visit the Lower Antelope Canyon.

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    Lower Antelope Canyon

    Cost : There is a $8 Navajo Park Entrance Fee per person to enter into the indian reserve. You must book a tour, either online or in person. I’ll recommand you to book in advance especially during the summer. Tripods are forbidden. If you want to bring yours you’ll have to take a Photographer Tour.

    Upper Antelope Canyon : Approximate prices are $48 for a general tour (1h) and $120 for a Photographer Tour (2h)

    Lower Antelope Canyon : Approximate prices are $25 for a general tour (1h15) and $47 for a Photographer Tour (2h15)

    Different guided Tours are available. We chose Ken’s Tours to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon (see review below in “my experience”)

    You can book a tour for the Upper Antelope Canyon with :

    Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours

    Antelope Slot Canyon Tours

    Antelope Canyon Tours

    Antelope Canyon Najavo Tours

    From April to September, do the tour around 11am or 12pm. The sun is at its zenith, and enters the canyon in a spectacular way.

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    Lower Antelope Canyon

    Monument Valley

    It’s located on the Arizona-Utah border. The Valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation. It is known by its cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. The most famous buttes are called “West Mitten Butte”, “East Mitten Butte” and “Merrick Butte”. The Navajo people call this place the Valley of Rocks. Monument Valley has stood as a symbol of the American West. No reservation needed. There is a $20 fee to enter into the Park.

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    View from the Visitor Center

    🚗 Take a scenic drive : Monument Valley can be visited by driving through a 17 mile dirt road that passes 11 stop points

    1. The Mittens
    2. Elephant Butte
    3. Three sisters
    4. John Ford’s Point
    5. Camel Butte
    6. The Hub
    7. Totem Pole
    8. Sand Springs
    9. Artist’s Point
    10. North Window
    11. The Thumb
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    On the dirt road

    My experience

    We did all of those places in one day. It was a part of the Road Trip we did last year in March/April.

    We spent the night at Page and started early, around 6:30am-7am at Horseshoe Bend. In my opinion, it’s better to go in the afternoon because of the shade that cuts half of the Horseshoe-shape. The good thing was we were alone. Also, we stopped there the day before. We caught the sunset after we spent the day at the Grand Canyon.

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    Around 7am in April

    Then, we went to Antelope Canyon. Our tour was scheduled at 8:30am with Ken’s Tours, which was $28 for a general tour (1h15) + the $8 Navajo Park Entrance Fee.

    Review : 4.5/5. We entered into the canyon by group of about 12 people and a guide. The guide was very nice and provided us a verbal tour and assistance in taking photos. I got my camera a few weeks before the trip (Nikon D3300) and he helped me with the settings, making my pictures look better 😍 Also, he offered to take a panaromic picture of us with our phone. When we came out of the canyon he showed us some actual “Prehistoric Dinosaur’s paw prints”.

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    Finally, we drove to Monument Valley, which is about 2h drive (120 mile) from Antelope Canyon and spent the afternoon there. We had a great view of Monument Valley from the Visitor Center. Then we hiked The Wildcat Trail, which is 3.2 miles around the West Mitten Butte. It takes about 1h30-2h. We really enjoyed this hike. We drove through the park on a 17 mile dirt road. We had an economic car and it was totally doable to drive on the dirt road (the road was dry). We left around 5pm and went back to Page for the night.

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    Bryce Canyon 

     

    Bryce Canyon and its famous hoodoos

    Bryce Canyon is an American National Park located in Southwesthern Utah. It is known for its incredible Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) and it is the largest collection of Hoodoos in the world!

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    Getting to Bryce Canyon :

    The closest major airports are in Salt Lake City (Utah) located 260 miles North of the park and Las Vegas (Nevada) located 270 miles Southwest of the park.

    Getting around in the Park :

    All roads are paved inside the park so don’t worry about needing a certain car. There is snow during winter but the Park plows and sands the road after heavy snowstorms. Some roads may be temporarily closed due to icy winter conditions. The park is open year-around.

    The Park offers free shuttle that takes visitor to the Park’s most popular viewpoints, trails and facilities.

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    Where to sleep ?

    Campground : $20/per tent-site/per night and $30/per RV-Site/per night. Reservations can be made by phone or online from 6 months to 2 days in advance.

    • Sunset Campground : 100 sites. 20 tent-only sites and 80 RV & tent sites (first-come, first-served) and 1 Group site (available by reservation) CLOSED from mid-October through mid-April. This campground is closest to the best hiking trail which begins and ends at Sunset Point
    • North Campground : 99 sites. 13 RV sites (by reservation) and 86 RV & tent sites (first-come, first-served). At least one loop is open year-round.

    Backcountry camping : Permits are required for all overnight stays ($5/person). You can purchase the permit at the Visitor Center. Reservations may be made up only 48h in advance, and only at the Visitor Center. There are 8 campsites on the 22.9 miles Under-the-Rim Trail and 4 campsites on the 8.8 miles Riggs Spring Loop Trail.

    Lodging : Bryce Canyon Lodge. Open late March through early November. Reservations by phone or online.

    What to do ?

    • RANGER PROGRAMS
    1. Geology talks (year-round)
    2. Rim Walk (Spring, Summer & Fall)
    3. Kids Programs (Summer)
    4. Evening Programs (Summer & Fall)
    5. Full Moon Hikes (Full Moon nights)
    6. Astronomy Programs
    7. Snowshoe Hikes (Winter)
    • Hiking : Easy, Moderate, Strenuous
    • Backcountry hiking (Backcountry Camping permit required)
    • Private Horse & Mule Riding (April 1 – October 31)
    • Drive the scenic overlook

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    My experience

    Bryce Canyon was one of the places we visited during the ROAD TRIP we did last year in March/April.

    We spent one full day there. It was totally breath taking. The hoodoos are so beautiful. The colors red and orange are really amazing. The pictures don’t do it justice!

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    We started with 2h of horse/mule riding. It was really fun and not too expensive ($65/pers). We got a picture of us by a photographer for $10 each. It’s a special way to explore Bryce Canyon because this trail allows horse only. You can book your tour online with Canyon Rides.

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    After that we started at Sunset Point and hiked down a part of Navajo Loop Trail (1.3 mile roundtrip). We reached Queens Garden Trail (1.8 mile roundtrip) at the bottom and finished at Sunrise Point. It was a short and easy/moderate hike, like a loop, that goes down into Bryce Amphitheater. It took us about 2h. I really liked it. It was amazing to hike between the hoodoos. Then, we walked Rim trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point to join our car (1 mile). It’s an amazing view from the top.

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    Navajo Loop Trail
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    Queens Garden Trail

    We did Mossy Cave Trail (.8 mile round trip) easy hike that leads to a mossy overhang and small waterfall. We wanted to see the waterfall but I was not aware that the waterfall flows from May to October 😅 This trail is located outside of the park on Hwy 12 going toward Tropic.

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    Finally, we did a part of Fairy Land Loop Trail as far as Tower Bridge (3 mile roundtrip) just before night and kept going on our road trip toward Zion Canyon, which I’ll write about later because I’m going back there in June and I’ll have so much more to say about it 😎

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    Pictures at the bottom are taken at the top of Tower Bridge

    I think 1 day is a little bit too short to fully enjoy Bryce Canyon. If you can, you should spend 2 days and camp into the park or stay at the lodge.

    If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

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    San Diego

    3 days in San Diego 🌞

    San Diego is a major city in California located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and adjacent to the border with Mexico.

    Sunrise at Ocean Beach

    Ps : I apologize for the pitures’s quality. I had a compact camera and IPhone 4 only 😐

     

    I travelled to San Diego by myself in February 2016 and I spent 3 days there. I planned my trip 2 weeks before (cause you never know when you will be off 😀) and I flew from Seattle.

    Budget :

    • Flight : $330
    • Hostel : $129 for 4 nights
    • Rental car : About $190 for 2 days (very disappointed by the rental company)
    • Gas : $20
    • Tijuana in Mexico : $48 for an half day (via Viator)
    • Horse Riding : $135/pers for a group tour/ $150 for a private tour
    • Hike : $6
    • Food : $40

     

    Hostel : USA HOSTELS OCEAN BEACH 😁

    15 min drive from the airport. 2min walk from the beach. I loved this hostel. I shared my room with 5 other people and I made a friend from Australia. This is why I like Hostels, it’s easy to meet people and very cheap. The breakfast was included (cereals, oatmeal, fruit, tea, coffee, bread, jam…). During breakfast, you can meet new people as well. Rooms, kitchen and bathrooms were very clean. The staff was very nice and friendly and offered activities nightly, like bonfire at the beach with smores or go out to the club. The hostel also offered easy access to the Zoo, Downtown, SeaWorld and La Jolla via free shuttle.

    Rental car : Payless 😡

    I was so disappointed 😡 I booked a car for $85 for 2 days via Rentalcar.com. When I arrived at the rental company she told me I had to take the insurance which was about $70 (First and last time I heard that). I didn’t want to take it but for some reasons she didn’t let me get the car without the insurance. I cancelled my reservation and went to Hertz. They refused my international driving license because they wanted my french driving license. I didn’t understand that. I really needed the car so I went back to Payless because the other companies were too expensive. I had to pay $190 if I wanted to get the car.  With my reservation “cancelled” they considered me like a last minute booking, so it was even more expensive. But since then It’s been so much easier to rent a car since I got my US drivers license.

    First day

    Early hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve and snack at La Jolla beach with Gustavo, who I met on couchsurfing. Don’t be shy at Torrey Pines, it’s not unsual to see people walk naked on the beach. Feel free to participate. LOL!

    Then, I did the Tijuana Tour via Viator. It was cheap and the bus driver was nice but I didn’t really like it. I spent 3h on the same street in Tijuana and I was very uncomfortable and sometimes felt unsafe by the way guys were looking at me. Gustavo, who comes from Mexico and knows Tijuana well made fun of me the next day when we met again. He said sorry I forgot to tell you that you shouldn’t wear shorts! So girls, stay covered up! Haha! BUT the tacos were good and cheap. I ate them from a deck on the second floor and watched the people in the market walking around.

    Then when I went back to San Diego, I hung out with Atylla who I also met on couchsurfing. Got some drinks and dance at the bar.

    Second day

    I went for a hike by myself about 1h drive from San Diego. It’s called Cedar Creek Falls to Devil’s Punchbowl. I didn’t know I needed a permit but fortunately Atylla told me the day before and I could get the permit at the last minute for $6. It was a really nice 6 mile hike that leads to the waterfalls. The water was cold but refreshing. You can jump in from an awesome rock. I really had fun but it can be crowed even during the weekday. It was busy so the permit was sold out when I arrived at the parking lot. Keep in mind, when I went, a ranger was there checking permits.

    Then, I walked into Balboa Park which is a famous park in San Diego. It was very beautiful and relaxing.

    Finally, I caught the sunset at Ocean beach before I went back to the hostel.

    Third day

    I fullfilled one of my dreams, which is to ride a horse on the beach! I booked the tour online with “San Diego Beach Rides” which is a 30min drive from Ocean Beach. I was alone for the tour (3h) and they usually don’t gallop but we did 😃🏇 It was an incredible experience.

    Then I went to Coronado Island and had lunch on the beach. It was nice to take a break and relax 😎

    I made a stop at the Old Town and walked around into the market. Nothing crazy but I loved it. Also, it was Tacos Tuesday so I spoiled myself with Tacos and a margueritta 🍹

    After, I went back to the hostel for the bonfire and smores with the other travellers on the beach. I met this nice Australian girl and offered her to come with me to see the Embracing Peace and USS Midway at night, which she agreed and we had fun. Then I went back there in the morning before I flew home.

    Other things to do or see ?

    • Sea World
    • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    • Seaport Village
    • Historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown
    • Point Loma
    • Cabrillo National Monument
    • Sunset Cliffs Natural Park (Look for the cave)
    • Surf (or at least try to)
    • Whale watching
    • Catch a game
    • Flower field (mid-March through mid-April)

     

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    Death Valley 

    Death Valley

    La Vallée de la Mort in french

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    Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California near the border of Nevada. It’s one of the hottest places in the world at the height of summertime.

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    When to go ?

    The best time to hike in Death Valley is from November through March due to the very high temperatures in the park. Summers are extremely hot and dry. Daytime may exceed 120°F / 49°C.

    Where to land ?

    The closest airport is Las Vegas. About 2h30 drive. It’s almost 5h drive from Los Angeles.

    What kind of car should I rent ?

    We rented an economic car and we could easily drive on the unpaved road of Twenty Mule Team Canyon. Some people were more original… 😎

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    It doesn’t mean you can drive everywhere with an economic car. Farabee’s Jeep Rental now have an outlet located in Furnace Creek. These jeeps are outfitted for rugged backcountry road use.

    Where to sleep ?

    Camping : There are 9 different campgrounds. They are all first-come/first-served except for Furnace Creek campground. Reservations are available for the camping season of October 15 to April 15 by phone or online. Acording to the National Park’s website, it’s very rare for all campgrounds to fill. Prices : From free to $22

    Backcountry camping : The backcountry permit (free) may be obtained at the visitor center or any ranger station. Check out the National Park’s website or directly with a ranger to see where the backcountry camping is not allowed.

    Lodging : Reservations online

    Hotel or RV campground : Outside of the park (Amargosa, Pahrump, Beatty)

    What to do ?

    • Wildlife watching : Death Valley’s great range of elevations and habitats support a variety of wildlife species, including 51 species of native mammals, 307 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians and 5 species and 1 subspecies of native fishes
    • Hiking : easy, moderate or difficult. It’s up to you 😉 you can find some ideas below in “my experience” or check out the National Park’s website for more.
    • Backpacking (must obtain a free backcountry permit)
    • Biking & Mountain Biking : Death Valley has more than 785 miles of roads including hundreds of miles suitable for Mountain Biking

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    My experience

    My best friend and I went to Death Valley at the end of March. We did a road trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and drove from L.A to Death Valley. We had a great time. But a bit scary when we got caught in two sands storms! Once while driving and the next while we were outside of the car taking pictures. Then we almost ran out of gas as we entered the park. Lucky there was a gas station close although gas tends to be much more expensive close to the park.

    We booked a night in a really nice RV for $52 at Pahrump (Booking.com) which is about a 1h drive from Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

    All in all, it was a great trip. It’s very nice to drive through Death Valley National Park, I love the desert. It’s incredible how the scenery can be totally different from one place to another.

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    What did we do ?

    First day (Half day)

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    White Gold
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    Badwater Bassin : Surreal landscape of vast salt flats. 1 mile
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    Natural Bridge : 1 mile

     

    Second day

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    Zabriskie Point : The most popular viewpoint in the park
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    Mosaic Canyon
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    Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes : The largest dune field in the park. 2 mile
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    Salt Creek Interpretive Trail : 0.5 mile
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    Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail : 3 mile
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    Twenty Mule Team Canyon : 2.7 mile one way loop drive (unpaved)

     

    There are other places that you should check out if you have time :

    • Dante’s View : At 5,475 ft, the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park.
    • Devil’s Golf Course : An immense area of rock eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires (unpaved access road).
    • Artist’s Drive : A 9 miles scenic loop drive. This road is one-way and is only drivable with vehicles less than 25ft in total length.

     

    Other things to see ?

    Death Valley National Park has over 5,300 square miles of desert and mountains, making it the largest national park in the contiguous United States. The possibilities for discovery are ENDLESS!

    If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

    Please leave a comment ✏

    Grand Canyon 

    The most famous and spectacular

    National Park in the USA

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    Where should I land ?

    Either Las Vegas or Phoenix.

    From Las Vegas to the South Rim, it’s 4h15 drive if you use Google maps but you should round up to 5h to be safe. If you have time, you should definitely stop by Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours located just 45min from Las Vegas. It’s the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. You can do the historic Mine tours ($12.50 for an adult / 1h10) or just walk around like we did. It’s very cool.

    Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours

    It’s faster from Phoenix with a 3h30 drive when using Google maps, but consider 4h to be safe.

    What kind of car should I rent ?

    Whatever you want. You can rent an economic car cause you won’t have to drive on difficult roads. If your group is more than 2 or 3 people, you should rent a van or a RV. It’s fun to go for road tripping and you can sleep in it.

    Where to sleep ?

    Depends on if you prefer adventure or comfort and your budget. Sleeping in the National Park’s Lodges is expensive (prices start at $100). I will recommend Flagstaff which is 1h30 from the South Rim. Or you can camp in the park. The most popular Campground is called Mather Campground ($18/night), you have to make a reservation and if you plan to go in the summer you should make it as early as possible. If it’s already full you can sleep at Desert View Campground which is first-come, first-served.

    If you wish to camp anywhere in the park other than in developed Campgrounds, you must obtain a backcountry permit. You have to submit the permit request form either by fax or by mail. Permit requests are not accepted by telephone or by email. APPLY AS EARLY AS YOU CAN!!! (About 4 months before)

    South Rim or North Rim ?

    The South Rim is the most popular and visited and it’s accessible year around. The North Rim is closed for the winter through May 15 for the 2017 season.

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    Moran Point

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    From Bright Angel Trail

    Transportation inside the Park :

    You can park your car at different places and take the Shuttle (Refer to the map). The shuttles cover most of the park but you will have to take your car on the Desert View Drive that leads to Desert View Watchtower and the Campground. Many overlooks along the way.

    What to do ?

    Many activities are possible :

    Guided Tours :

    • South Rim Bus Tours
    • Bicycle Rentals and Guided Bicycle Tours – South Rim
    • Mule Trips – North and South Rim
    • Guided hikes with a Park Ranger (Free) – North and South Rim
    • Raft Trips
    • Air Tours
    • Jeep and Van Tours

    Hiking :

    Many options are available for day hikers. The South Rim and the North Rim offer Rim Trail Hikes that have spectacular views. Or you can choose to day hike into the Canyon. The most popular hikes on the South Rim are Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail.

    Hiking into the Canyon can be very dangerous (Falls, heat stroke, dehydratation). Over 250 people are rescued from the Canyon each year. Be prepared for a safe and enjoyable hike. Bring enough water and enough food. Don’t underestimate the wilderness and overestimate your own abilities. Wear comfortable hiking boots.

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    Bright Angel Trail 

    Havasu Falls

    One of the most beautiful, amazing, incredible blue green waterfalls. Hidden in the Grand Canyon and DIFFICULT (almost impossible) to get reservations for. The Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.

    Campground reservations started on February 1st and were only taken by phone. It was impossible to get someone on the phone, all lines were busy. The ones who where lucky to make a reservation spent their entire day calling multiple times. For what I know, the Campground is already full for the 2017 season.

    It requires a 10 mile hike EACH WAY to the waterfalls of Havasupai. NO DAY HIKING ALLOWED. You must obtain a reservation and permit or they will turn you away. Also, it can be very dangerous to attempt this hike in one day. Temperatures can reach 115°F (46°C)

    Cost :

    • Entry Fee : $50 per person + 10% tax
    • Campground (300 sites) : $25/person/night + 10% tax
    • Environmental fee : $10 + 10% tax

     

    NOT MY PICTURE

    My experience

    I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim) twice and I’m planning to go again in June. Both times I landed in Las Vegas and made a stop at Eldorado Canyon Mine Tour.

    The first time was in December 2015 with my best friend Bruna. We planned to stay 2 days, drive at each overlook and do at least one hike into the Canyon. I pictured the Grand Canyon always warm and sunny. What a surprise! It was COLD and SNOWY! When we arrived on the afternoon, we were totally exhausted after a crazy night in Las Vegas and 5h drive. So we decided to drive from the Visitor Center to Grand View Point and stop at each overlook. The first time in the Grand Canyon is magical and totally breath taking. We were so excited and couldn’t believe our eyes. A DREAM CAME TRUE ❤ We spent the night at a couchsurfer’s place inside the park. We planned to stay 2 nights there but it was very uncomfortable to sleep because (funny story) the very nice guy who welcomed us snored TOO LOUD 😅  We were too exhausted and wanted to find another place for the second night. Finally the 2nd day was snowy and foggy like crazy. No view of the canyon. So we decided to make a snowman ☃ and we spent the night at Flagstaff. We drove on a part of the famous Route 66 on our way back to Las Vegas and found a nice and weird town.

    Route 66

    The second time was in March 2016 with my boyfriend. This time the weather was way better. Cold at night but warm during the day. We started early in the morning and walked part of the South Rim Trail from Bright Angel Lodge to Mojave Point. Then we did some of Bright Angel Trail (6 miles out and back). We were done around 4pm, stopped at some overlooks on Desert View drive and headed to Page where we caught the sunset at Horseshoe Bend.

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    I just requested the Backcountry permit for Bright Angel Campground in June 2017. This time I want to do backpacking and sleep in the canyon. Hope I get the permit. FINGERS CROSSED 🍀

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    If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

    Please leave a comment ✏

    Road Trip #1 : California-Nevada-Arizona-Utah (March/April 2016)

    A Road Trip is an amazing way to discover a country and especially in the USA. The scenery is just breath taking. It’s like a show from your car. Also, you better like driving cause you are going to drive for long hours and some roads are straight and endless. There are so many different Road trips you can do. Depends on how many days or weeks and what you want to see. Here are some ideas… 🚗

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    9 DAYS – 2 PARTS

    For some reason my best friend Bruna couldn’t make the entire road trip with me. My boyfriend decided to join me for the second half. This is why I chose to land in Las Vegas. Otherwise a start in Los Angeles would have been the best. I spent 4 days with Bruna in Nevada and California and 5 days with my boyfriend in Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

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    HOW MUCH DID IT COST ?

    ☆ Flight : $340 / pers (from Seattle)

    ☆ Rental : $290 (Enterprise) / 3 pers

    ☆ Gas : About $225 (~2000 miles) / 3 pers

    ☆ Hotel : $300

    • 2 nights = Couchsurfing = FREE
    • 1 night = RV = $52 / 2 pers
    • 5 nights = Hotel = $248 / 2 pers

    ☆ Visit :

    • $86 Universal Studio Los Angeles (Cheaper online) / pers
    • $80 National Parks Annual Pass
    • $20 Monument Valley
    • $28 Antelope Canyon / pers
    • $65 Canyon Trail Rides Bryce Canyon (Horse ride) / pers

     

    I planned and booked everything about a month before. The earlier you book, the cheaper you will pay. You definitely can find a flight for Las Vegas for less. If you are under 25, you will pay more for the rental because of the insurance. It’s also more expensive if you drop the car off in a different place than where you picked it up. I usually book my flight with Kayak, the car with Rentalcar.com and the hotel with Booking. 

    I like to use Couchsurfing when I’m travelling in the City, either for the night or just to hang out. It’s a nice way to meet people, share culture and whatever you like, and you have someone to show you around or give advice about where to go. Usually, you’ve already researched online what you want to do and what you want to see but they can advise you about places less touristic.

     

    THERE WILL BE A POST IN MORE DETAIL ABOUT EACH DESTINATION

     

    Los Angeles

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    Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

    Death Valley

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    Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

    Click here to read the Death Valley blog

    Grand Canyon

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    South Rim, Grand Canyon

    Click here to read the Grand Canyon blog 

    Horseshoe Bend

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    Sunset, Horseshoe Bend

    Antelope Canyon

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    Monument Valley

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    Click here to read about the Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley Blog 

    Grand Staircase Escalante

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    Spooky Gulch, Grand Staircase Escalante

     Bryce Canyon

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    Click here to read about the Bryce Canyon blog

    Zion

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    From Angels Landing Trail, Zion

     

    🚗 Have fun and Drive safe 🚗

    If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

    Please leave a comment ✏

    Glacier National Park

    Welcome to Montana

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    Glacier National Park is located in the U.S State of Montana, on the Canada-United States border with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Glacier National Park definitly fits well its name. I hardly imagine how cold is it during the winter! Brrrrrrr I’m already cold 😅❄

    ☡ Glacier National Park is also known to have a black bear and grizzly habitat. It’s EXTREMELY important for hikers to make a lot of noise, carry bear spray and hike in groups. Trails can be closed due to bear activity . It’s a better idea to check with a ranger on the status of a trail before proceeding on any hike in the park.

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    We spent 4 days there in September and for good reason, total of square miles 1,583 split in 5 areas :

    • Lake McDonald
    • Many Glacier
    • North Fork & Goat Haunt
    • St. Mary
    • Two Medicine

    Interesting facts :

    • Total number of lakes : 762
    • Number of named lakes : 131
    • Largest lake : Lake McDonald at 9.4 miles long, 1.5 miles wide, 464 feet deep
    • Number of mountains : 175
    • Highest mountain : Mt Cleveland at 10,448 ft / 3,190 m

     

    Of course, 4 days was not enough to explore the entire park. We did the boat tour at Lake Mcdonald, and some hikes at Many Glacier and St. Mary.

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    My favorite hike so far was Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint located at Many Glacier area. A stunning view all along the hike. Starting with Swifcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake, then on your way up to an amazing view of Grinnell Lake and ending at Upper Grinnell Lake. Absolutely breath taking.

    10.6 miles out and back / Elevation gain : 1,600 ft

    Trailhead : Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or Many Glacier Hotel

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    In the same area, we did Iceberg Lake. Known for its Icebergs, but unfortunatly we didn’t see any of them. Apparently, it still wasn’t cold enough 😅

    9.6 miles out and back / Elevation gain : 1,200 ft

    Trailhead : Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead

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    The boat tour at Lake McDonald was pretty cool and relaxing (it was a surprise for my boyfriend’s birthday 💝) We walked around the lake a little bit, enjoyed the beautiful fall colors and admired the incredible and famous color of the pebbles. For information, boat tours start between the end of May and the end of June and are over between beginning and the end of September depending on the tour : Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake or Many Glacier. Prices are from $13.75 to $27.50 for an adult.

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    If you enter the St. Mary area at the East entrance, you can enjoy the view of St. Mary Lake from the famous “Going to the sun road”. We chose to do Hidden Lake Overlook. It’s an easy but busy trail. It’s up to you to admire the lake from the overlook or keep walking to the bottom. It was our last day after we did Iceberg Lake and we still had to drive back to Seattle during the night, which is a 9h drive. So we decided to stay at the top. What a view ! Totally happy to end the trip like this 😍

    2.8 miles out and back / Elevation gain : 460 ft

    Trailhead : Logan Pass Visitor Center

    *Additional 2.4 miles out and back further to Hidden Lake, dropping 780 ft from the overlook

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