Natural Wonders You Can Add to Your Next Performance Tour
The U.S. National Park Service works to protect some of the most spectacular places on earth, and in 2016 they celebrate 100 years. In honor of this milestone, we’ve selected some of our favorite natural sites in the National Park Service system that can be added as stops on your next performance tour. (For our favorite historic NPS sites, visit our previous post.)
Just two hours and 40 minutes from Los Angeles, a stop at Joshua Tree will make you feel like you’ve landed on another planet. Named for the “Joshua Trees” (which are actually tree sized Yucca plants) spread throughout the park, Joshua Tree is also home to towering boulders, colorful wildflowers, and even Bighorn Sheep. Watch some of the many rock climbers and bouldering enthusiasts in action (or even try climbing for yourself) as you hike the many nature trails throughout the park. Cap off your visit to this desert wonderland with some stargazing. The dark desert sky will showcase the Milky Way in a way many in your group have never seen.
At over 14,000 feet, Rainier is one of the most spectacular peaks in the United States. Just a two hour drive from Seattle, Mt. Rainier feels worlds away. Move from lush forests at its base to beautiful, expansive meadows at Paradise and Sunrise. At 6,400 feet, Sunrise is the highest drivable point in the park, and offers some of the best views of the highest peak in the Cascades. Mt. Rainier is sure to be an unforgettable mountain experience for your students.
One of the most unique sites in the world, a visit to Hawai’i Volcanoes will allow you to (safely) see one of the world’s few actively erupting volcanoes, Kilauea. A drive around the crater’s expansive rim, will give you an idea of the sheer power of volcanoes and the role they play in shaping our planet. The active lava flow is constantly changing, so your BRT tour director can check with park rangers to find out if viewing the flow is possible on the day of your visit. Hawai’i may be famous for its beaches, but a visit to Kilauea may be the highlight of the trip for many of your students.
At over 1,200 square miles, there is no lack of awe-inspiring nature in Yosemite. Home to a diverse array of natural wonders, including thundering waterfalls, giant sequoias, and towering rock formations (the most famous being Half Dome and El Capitan), Yosemite is packed with amazing and diverse experiences. A three to four hour drive from one of America’s most spectacular (and musical) cities, San Francisco, Yosemite is a perfect extension of your next performance tour to the Bay Area.
Great Smoky Mountains
The country’s most visited national park is located near two popular performance destinations; just outside Gatlinburg, TN, and a 3.5 hour drive from Nashville. Though not as towering as the Rocky and Cascade ranges, the rolling green mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife make this UNESCO world heritage site equally impressive in its own right. For a real treat, visit in the fall to see the mountains change color during the autumn leaf season.
Though it is located away from popular performance destinations, the Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular sites on earth. Stop at as many lookouts along the rim road as you can. The canyon presents itself in unique ways at each lookout you visit. If your group is up for it, take a short hike into the canyon as well. Just remember, it will take twice as long to come up as it will to go down! The immense size and grandeur of the canyon is likely to overwhelm your senses, making it an experience that will stay with your students for a lifetime.
If you are interested in adding one of these parks to your next student performance tour, contact us today to get started!
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