BY: ZOE MELNYK
For some, adventure is all about the distance; the farther the destination the larger the experience. Adventure doesn’t necessarily need to be defined by the miles travelled. An expedition an hour away from home can be just as exceptional as a trip across the world.
So for all you wanderlusters with empty wallets and open minds, these nine destinations will allow you to experience adventure in your own backyard.
See the first sunrise in America
Acadia National Park in Maine isn’t just one of the state’s most popular national parks, it’s also home to America’s first sunrise from early October until March.
The park usually has an entrance fee, but you can get around that if you go on the right days. January 19th, February 14 – 16, and November 11th, are all nationally recognized holidays as well as free entry days into the park. http://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/fees.htm
If you’re looking to stay over night, camping does have a fee of $30, which split between a car full of people could be as cheap as $6 a night, so not completely free for a weekend trip but pretty damn close.
Dark Sky Park, Michigan
If you’re passionately devoted to star gazing, dark sky park is a must. Reported with having no interruptions from light caused by towns and industrialization, Headlands Michigan is one of the best places in America to get a genuine view of our vast universe.
Entrance into this park is free, and there’s camping nearby also for free at French Farm Lake campground.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Located just outside of Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods holds incredible views and picturesque scenes that any traveller can appreciate, whether they are coming from Denver for the 50th time or from Europe seeing the park for the first time.
Entry into the park is free with options to hike, picnic, and even go rock climbing as long as you have proper equipment and apply for the free permit.
Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, Arizona
If mountain biking is one of your favourite pastimes, the Black Canyon National Recreational Trail is an ideal place to get some free practice on a number of trails varying in length and difficulty.
There are no fees and activities are not limited just to mountain biking. Hiking, camping and horse back riding are also popular uses for the trail.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
For anyone looking to witness one of nature’s most magnificent miracles, Multnomah Falls will not disappoint. The 611 ft waterfall is found just 30 minutes outside of Portland and has a climbing trail allowing travellers to view the top of the falls.
There’s also a two acre park for picnics and trails for hiking, all completely free of course.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
With 400 miles available to wander, Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s longest known cave system. Adventurous hearts unafraid of a little claustrophobia are welcome to explore the caves located in southern Kentucky.
Entrance into the park and most facilities are free, but tours run around $15 (though they are not necessary to experience the park.)
Redwood National Park, California
California isn’t just about the surf and snowboarding life, it also holds some of the tallest trees in the entire world. Along with witnessing these magnificent beasts, there’s also 40 miles of coastline to venture.
Entrance for the camp is free and while campsites are available, you can stay for free in your car at the local casino. For anyone with a truck or large van, this could make for the ideal free getaway.
Adirondack, New York
Basically created for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, the Adirondacks in upper state New York has six million acres to explore, including lakes, rivers and valleys with the option to hike, climb, camp, canoe, kayak, and basically anything you could ever want to do in nature. The entrance is free and the adventure is all yours.
Certain campsites have no fees, as long as there is a reservation.
Barataria Preserve, New Orleans
Most people go to New Orleans for the infamous Mardi Gras scene, but for those of you looking to take a step back, try visiting the Barataria Preserve. There’s 23,000 acres of wetland to see and a large selection of trails to hike. If you’re lucky, you might even find an alligator.
Entrance fees are free and almost all events held in the reserve are free and open to the public.