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Undiscovered Travel Destinations

by Staff

Not all travel destinations are packed full of tourists. In fact, not all of them are even on the map. I have had an interest in these “secret” places since I first discovered two little lakes high in the hills and cliffs north of Ishpeming, Michigan. No trails even lead to these, and there was a trout on the line ten seconds after the cast.

Other travel destinations are not so isolated, but they are still generally overlooked by most tourists. This was true of Yelapa, Mexico when I went there in 1981. The beaches were uncrowded, you could buy fresh fish for dinner from the fishermen in the afternoon, and a palapa (thatched-roof house) rented for about $100 per month. The surrounding jungle had waterfalls you could swim under. No roads lead there, but there was a daily boat from nearby Puerto Vallarta. Yelapa, alas, has been discovered and overrun with tourists now. Often being one myself, I have nothing against tourists. But when the crowd gets too thick I prefer the more secret places. Here are some examples of a few of these travel destinations that are still undiscovered.

Storm Lake Anaconda, Montana is a fun destination by itself. You can rent a room above the Harp and Thistle Pub for $140 for the week (as of August 2007) and be within walking distance of at least ten casinos with nickel slot machines, as well as a new brew pub and restaurant (Rocky Mountain Brewing). Two blocks away, the Washoe Theater, considered one of the most beautiful in the country by the Smithsonian Institute, charges just $4 for a movie, and 90 cents for a small popcorn. A Jack Nicholas-designed golf course (The Old Works Golf Course) is just at the edge of this small town.

If you really want to escape, though, drive 14 miles west on Highway 1. When you see the sign that says “Storm Lake,” turn there. It’s nine miles to the lake (stay left when the road splits), but you may need high clearance for the last mile (although we used to make it there in our Ford Escort). There will usually be a few locals at the lake, but you’ll always find a place to park.

The lake sits at about 8,000 feet, and is known locally for its cutthroat trout. Hike the trail along the right side and on the other side you’ll find the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area. Less than hour up the trail you’ll reach Storm Lake Pass, at the tree line. From here you can continue into the tundra environment of Goat Meadows, or into a seemingly endless wilderness of mountains and lakes. You’ll rarely have any company other than bears, birds and mountain goats.

Alamogordo, New Mexico This is not at the top of most tourists lists, which is good for those of us that like our travel destinations to be uncrowded. It is a great little town, however, and a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. It is also a nice place to escape the winter, since it rarely snows or gets too cold here. You can check out the little zoo right in town for a relaxing afternoon. There is also an Imax Theater on the north side of town (watch for the signs), and you probably won’t have any long lines to wait in. On Saturdays from June to October you can visit the Farmers market at the county fairgrounds.

If you want to get up above the desert, drive the thirty minutes or so up to Cloudcroft in the nearby mountains, or go a little further the observatory at Sunspot, or to the Casino in Ruidoso. If you time it right, you can bask in the sun one day in Alamogordo and be skiing the next day at the Cloudcroft Ski Area.

For an unusual destination, you can visit the Trinity Test Site, where the first nuclear bomb was exploded. It is about an hour north of Alomogordo, down possible confusing dirt roads, and it is only open a day or two each year, so you’ll have to do your homework. To the west of town is the White Sands National Monument, with its truly amazing dunes of white sand.

Other Secret Travel DestinationsHere in our hometown of Canon City, Colorado there is an area (Red Canyon Park) just ten miles out of town that has fantastic red rock formations like those in the more famous Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs. The difference? You won’t ever feel crowded in this park, and you can climb on the rocks all you wantScience Articles, and explore slot canyons as well. How do you find out about travel destinations like this? Talk to the locals when you are traveling.


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