There was no Star Wars size budget in the making of this photo—just real life. Check out these insane rock formations in New Mexico outside Santa Fe.
PLACE: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
LOCATION: New Mexico, USA
NOTORIOUS: Geographical formations
NEAREST AIRPORT: Santa Fe (SAF)
COORDINATES: 35° 39′ 37″ N, 106° 24′ 30″ W
If you drive 40 miles south west of Santa Fe, you’ll run into these absolutely bizarre geological formations. They eroded to look like little tents because of their soft pumice rock that was created from volcanic rock. Kasha-Katuwe is a Keresan phrase meaning “white cliffs”—Keres is the traditional language of the pueblo tribes of northern New Mexico.
They only cover a small area but I’ve truly never seen anything like it so I figured it’s worth a stop if I’m in the area. I am planning a trip to Abiquiu and Taos, NM, to visit the towns where Georgia O’Keeffe and Agnes Martin decided to set up shop post-NY.
PLACE: Fairfield LOCATION: Iowa NOTORIOUS: Center for Transcendental Meditation, Ecovillage & Vedic town NEAREST AIRPORT: Des Moines, Iowa (DSM) COORDINATES: 41.0076° N, 91.9637° W CURRENCY: USD $
I took a trip to Fairfield last winter to visit the golden meditation domes of Fairfield, Iowa. In transcendental meditation, meditators meditate 20 minutes once in the morning and once in the evening. Following the vedic literature and the guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, this practice ensures a sense of well-being, reducing stress and improving relationships. Much to our dismay, not anyone can meditate in the domes—only advanced practitioners of TM meditation—so we opted to just have a visit during off hours to see the space inside. It is HUGE!
We stayed at The Raj spa and had an Ayervedic oil massage—it was sensational. We got a tour from a local named Susan, whose contact we got from the front desk of The Raj. We toured an off-the-grid ecovillage where citizens use solar, wind, recycling, and composting to manage all electricity and waste. Highly recommend this bizarre little pit stop if you’re in the midwest.
PLACE: Zion National Park, Utah LOCATION: United States NOTORIOUS: Rock formations NEAREST AIRPORT: I think it must be Vegas… COORDINATES: 37.2026° N, 112.9878° W CURRENCY: US Dollars
There’s something absolutely wild about this National Park. The rock formations and sandstone cliffs stand majestically amongst the dusty desert landscape. Unlike many of the parks in this region, hikers walk on the ground looking up at the towering cliffs versus standing on the cliff rims looking down. I love that you can hike around all the nooks and crannies of this maze of a canyon without seeing anyone for miles.
Apparently there’s an amazing drive from the east to west gates on Highway 9 if you don’t feel like hiking. Some blogs say that the Angel’s Landing is one of the most exciting hikes in America (woah…) so I definitely feel like that’s a must do if you’re in the area. Also, the Zion Narrows looks like a beautiful photo opportunity to integrate the desert sandstone with a shallow water scape. Mmmm… I can smell the fresh air now.
PLACE: White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument LOCATION: Arizona NOTORIOUS: rock formations NEAREST AIRPORT: PHX, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport COORDINATES: 36° 48′ 23″ N, 111° 44′ 28″ W CURRENCY: US Dollar
Come on! Look at that red! These cliffs are located right below the Utah state line North East of the Grand Canyon. I love that there’s more to this area than most of us get to see in the Vegas brochures. So, apparently the White Pocket is a notoriously hard-to-reach area of sandstone hidden within the desert expanse of the Vermilion Cliffs. It was made famous when National Geographic ran a spread on it attracting hikers everywhere, and I don’t blame ’em.
The rock formations are primarily made of sandstone, siltstone, limestone, and shale. They rise as much as 3,000 feet (910 m) above their bases and are millions of years old. Bring your binoculars, apparently this area is a serious hawk- and eagle-spotting zone. Be sure to see all three of these while you’re there: Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon.
PLACE: Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Florence LOCATION: Oregon, USA NOTORIOUS: sand dunes NEAREST AIRPORT: Eugene Airport or PDX, Portland Airport COORDINATES: 43° 43′ 27″ N, 124° 10′ 39″ W CURRENCY: American Dollar
I would definitely bet you didn’t know there were sand dunes on the Oregon coast. I hope one day my future husband proposes to me here. Salty Cascadian air. Sand. Massive waves just off in the distance… Mmm… It’s the the North Carolina dream brought to us west-coast style.
Just south of Florence is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, this area looks like the best photo op. Apparently Florence’s claim to fame is that it’s the #1 retirement community in America. See you guys there 2056.
PLACE: Huvasu Creek LOCATION: Arizona, USA NOTORIOUS: turquoise tributary NEAREST AIRPORT: LAS, McCarran International Airport (take a small plane to Grand Canyon from Vegas?) COORDINATES: 36° 18′ 28″ N, 112° 45′ 43″ W CURRENCY: American Dollar
Havasu Creek is near Supai, Arizona and is a tributary that eventually meets the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It’s bright turquoise waters come from its high mineral content. Amazing news – the water stays about 70 °F (21 °C) year around.
At the mouth of Havasu Creek, the confluence of this creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and look in awe at the striking blue-green water. Usually there is a distinct blue and brown break between them. Apparently the temperature drop between the two is the difference of one step! Quite amazing. Next time we’re in Vegas? I think so!
PLACE: Mcway Falls LOCATION: Big Sur, California NOTORIOUS: Tidefall NEAREST AIRPORT: San Fran/San Jose COORDINATES: 36.158611, -121.671667 CURRENCY: American Dollar
With the exception of Yosemite Falls, apparently Mcway Falls is one of the most photographed in California. I find this shot above absolutely mesmerizing. At a staggering 80 feet high, this tidefall is located just south of Carmel on the Pacific Coast Highway. The beach itself is protected so you can only view it from the hiking path above (aww).
Limekiln Falls, Salmon Creek Falls, and Pfeiffer Falls are three other hikes worth doing in the Big Sur area. I have been meaning to take a drive down the coast for years. This waterfall makes me want to take the trip. Ps. Big Sur is home to some of the US’s old growth Redwood Trees. Been meaning to hug one for years.
Have you done this hike? Is it really touristy? I’d be curious to know..