Transcendent Wonders in the U.S. Part II

Now that most states have begun the process of opening their states for business, it will be curious to see how long it takes for the travel industry to pick itself up and hopefully return to successfully thriving in the coming years.   As of the posting of this blog, the Center for Disease Control  (CDC) were recommending that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to Brazil, China, Iran, most European countries including the United Kingdom and Ireland.   Even within the United States, the CDC’s recommendations are still quite restrictive in asking travelers to continue to participate in healthy practices to prevent the virus from spreading.    The CDC’s site continually updates its information, as well as these links to every state, the District of Columbia and the 8 territories and freely associated states public health sites for the latest guidelines to help visitors in planning their upcoming travel.

With that being said, states are attempting to balance public health with the attempt to kick-starting their devastating economies.  Even Beau Satchelle’s team in supporting elderly family members means we remain diligent in being careful when we venture out to run necessities and business errands.  However, along with everyone else, we long for the day that we are able to plan our next trek of communing with earth’s natural gifts.  As mentioned in the last blog on traveling within the U.S,, we wanted to offer suggestions of beautiful locales that can be accomplished within a few hours to a few days depending on your mode of transportation. 

So as we all plan our future travels from this forced hibernation, consider these two enchanting U.S. destinations to add to your bucket list:

Watkins Glen State Park, New York

Considered the most popular of the Finger Lakes State Parks, located on the southern shore of the Seneca Lake, this park draws over 1 million campers and day visitors especially professional and amateur photographers.   The Glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-feet cliffs, producing 19 stunning waterfalls.   The 1.5 miles  long walking gorge path wraps around the waterfalls and through the Cavern Cascade.  According to the site the Gorge Trail is closed for the season.  Although the status may change as the Governor has recently announced New York state’s phased reopening plan.

Watkins Glen Park is 244.2 driving miles from New York City.  With regards to the 3 nearest airports, the list includes Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (17 miles). Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (26 miles), and Greater Binghamton Airport (65 miles).   

The  Schuyler County Lodging and Tourism Association (SCLTA) lodging site lists a comprehensive number of Bed and Breakfasts, Motels/Inns, Cabins and Seneca lakeside cottage rentals less than 15 miles from the entrance of the park, or search the variety of Airbnb offerings around the state park or downtown Glen Watkins.
The park’s peak tourist season is mid-June until August, especially on weekends.  Early morning (when the gates open) during the weekdays is advised if you want to experience the park almost all to yourself (according to locals).  Fall brings a vibrant display of gold, scarlet, and orange foliage (usually early to mid-October.  There is no entry fee, but vehicles are charged fees depending on the type (car, camper, etc.).   Leashed pets are allowed.  Amenities range from biking, campsites, cabins for lodging, fishing, hiking, hunting, and snowshoeing/Cross country skiing,

Not to be outdone, on the western side of the United States,  Maroon Bells (two peaks in the Elk Mountains) located in the  White  River National Forest  near Aspen, Colorado boasts amazing picturesque landscapes for lovers of the outdoors.   The Maroon Lake formed by ice glaciers anchors two giant snow-covered mountaintops, named Maroon Peak and Nort Maroon Peak which bears a particular maroon coloring from weathered hematite or mudstone. 

Similar to other states’ national parks guidelines, Colorado’s state parks and campgrounds are open and the National Parks Service is increasing access and services in a phased approach that is updated on their state parks link.   Approximately 300,00 people visit the Bells every season which makes private driving access very limited.  Maroon Bells is a little over 12 miles from Aspen and private vehicle  (parking fees will be charged) are allowed (before 8 am and after 5 pm)  to park but there is no guarantee, as the lots fill up quickly with overnight hikers (which is also limited).  It is advised to take the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus (which operates  mid-June to October) and  schedule your visit mid-week when there are fewer crowds.

There are three main hiking trails offered around the Maroon Bells including the 3.2 mile Maroon Creek Trail for spotting wildlife,  the 1-mile round trip trek around the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, and the 3.6 miles round trip of the Crater Lake Trail among several other hiking trails found here.

Due to the volume of day or camping visitors to the park the U.S. Forest Service has instituted trail education and enforcement of regulations to address human and environmental impacts Including camping in designated campgrounds, creating an awareness campaign named “no trace left behind”, staying on designated trails, and reducing carbon footprint by taking alternative public transportation.  Outdoor enthusiasts participate in activities ranging from, hiking, wildlife exploring, camping, mountaineering, biking, skiing, and snowboarding.

Closest airports with chartered jet terminals include the Aspen/Pitkin Country Airport or the Eagle County Airport (about an hour and a half from Aspen).

Aspen offers a wide range of lodging and accommodations  that can be found on their Stay Aspen Snowmass official site  from downtown luxurious accommodations to vacation homes which could also be found on the  Maroon Bells Airbnb  site for listings of private cabins, homes and condos.   -AJ

Thank you to the following sites for content information.


Watkins Glen State Park

Hat Tip to the following photographers

Ted Lai – Glen Watkins Waterfall

Ted Lai – Glen Watkins Bridge and Waterfall

Ted Lai – Glen Watkins stream

Tim Dohman – artist painting

Shelby Smith –  fall foliage Maroon

David Holifield – greenery at the fool of Maroon Bells

Dayne Topkin – Maroon Lake 


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