There are many beautiful landscapes to be seen all over the world. Sparkling oceans, lush flora, tall mountains, barren tundra and unique rock formations cover the Earth, giving contrast to its many destinations. One of the most interesting types of scenery to take in, however, is the desert.
While many automatically think of sandy, infertile, colorless areas of land, there are actually many vibrant and unique desert landscapes to be visited. Vast expanses of salt plains in Bolivia, curvaceous sand dunes in Jordan, enormous rock pinnacles in Australia and unworldly vegetation in Yemen make up some of the planet’s must-see deserts. For a more visual experience, check out the gallery below.
[images via Big Stock]
When you’re figuring out where to go for vacation, you might want beautiful vistas, clean air, ancient ruins, and traditional cultures. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they have to go to some remote country to find all that. You don’t. Head over to the Four Corners region and you’ll get all that and more.
The Four Corners, where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet, is home to several national monuments and parks as well as some of the most stunning scenery in the country. Much of the area is taken up by various Native American reservations, including the Navajo Nation, which is the largest. This region has been a center of native culture for thousands of years, and includes several well-preserved pueblos, adobe villages preserved by the elements and their builders’ natural ingenuity. The best are Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde.
“Awe inspiring” is a hackneyed phrase in travel writing, but you’d have to be a robot not to be moved by the vast open spaces, rugged mountains, and varied colors of the landscape. The desert has a subtle beauty to it that grows on you the longer you stay. Sometimes it’s not so subtle, like when you pass through the massive buttes of Monument Valley or watch the sunset change the sky from pink to crimson to purple over the course of a quiet half hour.
While the region seems remote, it’s quite easy to get to. One scenic route is to fly into Phoenix (definitely not a scenic start, but it gets better), drive a rental car up to the old logging town of Flagstaff in the mountains, stop at the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert, and continue on to the Four Corners. You can see a lot in a long weekend, but you might want to consider staying a whole week and exploring some of the more untrod areas.
The earth-toned colors and textures first caught my attention in this photo snapped in Panama by captaincartography. They remind me of the Painted Desert in Arizona and the Badlands in South Dakota. Then there are these fabulous boys intent on their dog. Such a simple scene, but captivating.
If you have a shot of a scene that caught your interest in your travels, send it our way at Gadling’s Flickr Photo Pool. It might be picked as a Photo of the Day.
For the Gadling series “World Heritage Site new “Tentative List”: Places to Love” we are covering the 14 sites that have been submitted for possible inclusion as an official World Heritage Site in the United States. The sites will not be posted in order of importance or in the order they appear on the list.
Name of Site: Petrified Forest National Park
Location: In Arizona almost halfway between Albuquerque, New Mexico (204 miles) and Phoenix, Arizona (259 miles)
Reason for importance in a nutshell: 10,000 years of human history + deposits of petrified wood that date to the Late Triassic paleo-ecosystem (205-225 million years ago) + dinosaur fossils and more + “one of the most diverse collections of prehistoric pottery fragments in the Southwest.”
Jamie’s Take: I’ve been here at least three times and can vouch that the beauty of the Petrified Forest is not just the petrified wood or the fossils. The Painted Desert is part of the Petrified Forest National Park. Here, the landscape is the kind you could look at every day for a year and never get bored. Depending on the angle of the sun, colors change from burnt orange to purpley blue. The mix of human existance with the natural world is the calling card, but this a physically facinating part of the United States. For anyone who grew up living around forests and grass covered scenery, here’s a place to see what all those layers of earth look like.
While you’re visiting, check out the Painted Desert Inn which is a National Historic Landmark. The dining room and lunchroom are decorated with murals depicting Hopi culture. Also in the park is a section of original Route 66 highway. Another worthwhile stop is the Rainbow Forest Museum. Interpretive displays and a film explain the significance of the area. If you can’t make it any time soon, here’s a virtual tour.