Yosemite Park’s 10 Best Hikes

Picture alpine meadows, high altitude lakes, and granite domes; this is Yosemite National Park, the second oldest national park in the U.S and one of the most beautiful places on our planet. Nearly four million people visit this park a year and although many come to see the most popular attractions such as Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, there is so much more to discover. Hiking through the park is the only way to discover the magic of it, and here are the park’s best hikes.

10. Gaylor Lakes

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It is one of the most overlooked hikes in Yosemite and easy enough for both beginners and families to hike, something hard to come by in this incredible national park. It takes anywhere from 2-5 hours depending on how much exploring you do and only has one real steep climb at the beginning. From the trailhead, hikers will climb steadily to a ridge with views of the high Sierra including Mt. Dana and Dana Meadows with its scattered ponds, offering some of the best high-country views off of Tioga Road.

The Gaylor Lakes valley actually contains five picturesque lakes and lends the feeling of a prehistoric time and one almost expects to see dinosaurs roaming through it. Hikers won’t have to contend with crowds here either as even during the busy season hikers are spread out.

9. Cathedral Lakes

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The Cathedral Lakes trail is one of the most popular hikes along Tioga Road although compared to Yosemite Valley, it is serene and uncrowded. It is a 7 or 8-mile round trip depending on whether you want to visit both the lower and upper lake. The trek is a hard 8 miles as the hike starts at 8,600ft, offering some serious altitude, and climbs over 1,000ft in the first mile.

What hikers will be rewarded with though are stunning views, shimmering waters backdropped by the iconic spire of Cathedral Peak. Hikers can explore the granite slopes, meadows, and peaks that surround the lakes. Make sure to look at the lower lake’s southwest side as the granite drops steeply away and offers views of Tenaya Lake, with its bright blue water shimmering in the distance.

8. Panorama Trail

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This hike actually loses 2,800 feet in elevation, which makes a lot of people think that it is an easy hike but they would be wrong. This 8.5-mile one-way hike challenges hikers with its 800 ft of switchbacks and plenty of difficult small steps, but the views are well worth it. Everywhere you turn on this hike offers incredible views and includes Half Dome, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Illilouette Falls, Yosemite Falls, and the entire Valley.

There is an awesome unmarked detour to Panorama Point, take the trail that is about half a mile after you cross the bridge over Illilouette Creek, and prepare yourself for panoramic views ranging from Glacier Point to the Royal Arches, North Dome, and the back of Half Dome. If you can handle the up and downs and don’t mind catching a shuttle at the end; this is one unforgettable hike.

7. Vernal & Nevada Falls

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If waterfalls are what you are after, this day hike is the perfect choice for you. Vernal and Nevada Falls are two of the most spectacular waterfalls in the park and hikers will get a glimpse of the famous Yosemite Falls in the distance. The loop is started by hiking up the steep granite steps that makeup Mist Trail and then proceeding down the John Muir Trail which lends spectacular views of both falls.

The granite slab located on top of Nevada Falls is the perfect place to picnic and snap amazing photos. Do this hike in the springtime when the water is flowing fast and it is less crowded than in the summer. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and decent hiking shoes. If you do hike in the summer make sure to head out early to avoid the afternoon heat and throngs of people.

6. Glen Aulin

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This is another hiking trail that offers spectacular waterfall views and the trick here is the further you go along the trail, the more waterfalls you actually see. The trail starts by descending down the Tuolumne River for about 5 miles in which you will cross Tuolumne Falls and White Cascade, as well as numerous pools that branch off from the trail. In June and July, White Cascade is an incredible place to take a swim so make sure you have your bathing suit.

If you feel like making this 10-mile hike into a 16-mile hike make sure you keep heading on and you will hit California Falls, LeConte Falls, and Waterwheel Falls. That is a total of five waterfalls in 16 miles! The Glen Aulin campsite is where you will turn around to keep the hike at 10 miles and beware that the last mile before the campsite is a deep descend and it’s helpful to have trekking poles.

5. Clouds Rest

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For those hikers who want to experience Half Dome but don’t want to fight the crowds or are unsuccessful in getting a permit; the hike to Clouds Rest is perfect. Hiking this trail you actually get to look down on Half Dome and get a 360-degree view of Yosemite Valley. Round trip is just over 14 miles and hikers should be experienced to make it to the top and back down.

The hike starts at picturesque Tenaya Lake and ends with some easy rock scrambling before reaching Clouds Rest, where you should have your camera ready to snap some unbelievable photos. Keep your eyes peeled for the climbers attached to the cables on Half Dome and realize that you have a better view. This awesome hike is a well-kept secret amongst many and arguably provides the best views of the valley.

4. Mono Pass

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This hike takes place at a high altitude and if you are coming from sea level it is recommended you take a few days to acclimatize before attempting this hike. The hike starts at 9,700ft and ends at 10,599 ft; lung-busting heights if you aren’t used to them. The first part of the trail leads you through beautiful streams, alpine meadows, and glacier domes.

The latter half of the hike will be through barren, rocky landscapes; making you appreciate how high you really are. Hiking Mono Pass is an 8-mile trek and in early summer the creeks are often overflowing with water making them hard to pass without getting wet. Prepare yourself for stunning views of the massive Mono Lake, 4000ft below you, when you reach Summit Lake and Sardine Lake. A real mix of ridges, forest trails, and rocky landscapes makes this one awesome hike.

3. North Dome

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If you are looking for another way to view Half Dome that is less crowded, there is yet another option for you. North Dome is an 8.8-mile round trip that offers unparalleled views of Half Dome as well as the peak of Clouds Rest. Although the hike up isn’t the most scenic in the park, it is the view from the top that draws hikers here. In fact, the only crowded part of this hike is at the top as people are unable to tear themselves away.

If you feel like hiking another mile or so make sure to check out the detour to Indian Rock Arch, a natural granite arch about 15 feet high. You will want to give yourself 4-6 hours to do the round trip hike and make sure to bring a pair of binoculars if you want to view the teeny tiny people making their way up Half Dome.

2. Tueeulala & Wapama Falls

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There are few hikes in this park that bring you so close to a giant cascading waterfall than this one. In springtime is when you will find the falls at their mightiest but beware that the trail is sometimes closed as the water actually roars over the bridges. This is a great hike for hikers with little experience as it features easy up and down terrain rather than the steep terrain that a lot of the park features.

On the way to Wapama Falls, you will pass Tueeulala Falls which spring spectacularly from the cliffs from more than 1000ft above the trail. Over the entirety of the hike, Hetch Hetchy Dome and Kolana Rock will loom over you, Kolana Rock’s north face being the nesting site for peregrine falcons. If you want to take the kids along for this hike make sure you are prepared with lots of water, snacks, sunscreen, and enough time as it’s not as easy as one may think.

1. Half Dome

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It wouldn’t be a list of hikes in Yosemite Park if we didn’t include this one. Although we have given you many more options to experience the views you get from Half Dome, there is truly something magical about actually hiking it. Hiking this glacier dome isn’t easy though as permits are now required and the cable route to the summit is only open from May to October. It is a big 14-mile round trip hike that first takes you along the Mist Trail and then up to the 8,842ft summit.

Steel cables are in place to help hikers up the final 600ft and many times this part takes a long time due to crowds and lineups. If you are jittery and nervous expect to move up very slowly. The summit is a whopping 5 acres and mostly flat, giving 360-degree views of the valley. If you are heading down the glacier on the same day make sure to watch as the sun sets quickly and you won’t want to walk in the dark.

The Best Things to do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest and most popular national park, due to its desert waterfalls, emerald pools, incredible hiking trails and awesome red cliff formations. It is somehow equally beautiful and improbable. Perhaps that it why it draws more than three million visitors a year, who come here to hike Angel’s Landing- a knife-edge tiptoe along a serrated mountain ridge, or who come here to explore the canyon floor or the Emerald Pools. Whether you have one day here or a week, we suggest checking out these 7 best things to do in Zion National Park.

7. Take a Horseback Tour

There is nothing like exploring Zion National Park and all that it has to offer by horseback. Choose from a one-hour ride that will follow the Virgin River for about a mile to the Court of the Patriarchs or for a more adventurous day, book the ½ day tour. The ½ day tour will take you around the Sandbench Trail, gradually ascending 500 feet and giving you a spectacular view of the southern end of Zion National Park.

Families can enjoy this gentle horseback ride providing children are over the age of 7 for the 1-hour ride and over the age of 10 for the ½ day ride. No experience is necessary on these rides, making it a unique way for anyone to explore the canyon.

6. Kolob Canyon Trails

It is easy to drive by the Kolob Canyon exit but it is well worth pulling off and not just to use the washrooms at the visitor’s center, but also to go half a mile up the road and explore. It is recommended you visit here during sunset, as the colors are absolutely stunning. There are a few trails here to choose from, ranging from a one-mile round trip hike to one that’s almost 6 miles.

The Taylor Creek Trail is one of the favorite hikes as it is a solid 5 miles that have little ups and downs, making it relatively easy. Hikers will reach the Double Arch Alcove, pass two cabins that are great for photo ops and cross the crystal clear creek several times. If you only have an hour or so here take the Timber Creek trail that is a 100-foot ascent following a ridge to a small peak that looks out onto Timber Creek and the Pine Valley Mountains.

5. Hike the Zion Narrows

It is the most famous backcountry route, a 16-mile journey into skinny canyons along the Virgin River’s north fork, only accessible from June to October. At least half of your hike will be in the river and depending on water levels, the water could be waist height. In saying that, this is no easy catwalk. The total trip takes about 12 hours and is best done over two days, staying in one of the 12 designated campsites deep in the canyon.

Expect lush hanging gardens that spring from the walls, turquoise colored water, dark corners and towering canyon walls. It is important to have the proper equipment when hiking this trail and many outfitters near the park rent it at a fair price. This once in a lifetime trails awaits you at Zion National Park.

4. Visit the Zion Human History Museum

Located just one mile north of the park south entrance, this museum is open to visitors daily from March to November. Here visitors will find permanent exhibits that display the rich human history of Zion National Park. Focusing on American Indian Culture and the historic pioneer settlement, the museum also illustrates the enormous effects of water in Zion.

After all, water is why people have traveled through and settled in Zion and is the creator and destroyer of the scenery that makes Zion so famous. There is a free 22-minute movie that is shown every half hour that provides an excellent overview of the park and a ranger is there to answer any questions. A small bookstore is a perfect place to pick up souvenirs such as maps, posters or books.  Make sure to head to the back patio area of the museum for an incredible view of Towers of the Virgin.

3. Hike Emerald Pools

It is one of Zion’s sweetest signature trails, generously loaded with breathtaking scenery. It is one of the most family-friendly hikes in the park that leads to waterfalls, pools and a dazzling display of monoliths. There are a total of four pools, the lower, middle and upper pools, all which take different trails to reach. The Lower Emerald Pool trail is paved and the easiest of them all, ranging just half a mile long until you reach the lush alcove of the lower pool, where ferns and moss sprout from the mountainside.

The trail actually ducks behind twin waterfalls that spill from the middle pool. There are actually two middle pools, which boast impressive views of Red Arch Mountain, Cathedral Mountain, and Mount Majestic. The trail leading up to the Upper Emerald Pool is more rugged and steep, but worth every step as you get to the secluded oasis of the pool, which is framed by colossal cliffs on three sides.

2. Hike Angels Landing

This strenuous 5-mile round-trip hike provides some of the Zion’s best overall views but you best be in good shape if you want to attempt it. The trail climbs 2.5 miles with sheer 1,500 ft. drops surrounding the very narrow trail; it is actually considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA. It is important to note that the hike is often extremely crowded and in some parts, it is so narrow that only one-way traffic is allowed through.

You will want to start this hike early in the morning and give yourself about 3-4 hours to complete it. Expect awe-inspiring views of the park from the top, that is if you are brave enough to complete the last half-mile where the trail becomes even more dangerous and steep. We think it’s worth it, and you will too as you stand on top of the world and revel in its beauty.

1. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

If there is one thing to do in Zion National Park it is the scenic drive. This drive offers the best overview of the park and can be completed even if you just have one day here. We recommend beginning the drive in the east, making your way through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel and descending into the Zion Canyon.

It is here where you will be met with a stunning landscape of majestic monoliths, mesas, and other fascinating formations. There are a total of six switchbacks, two tunnels and many pull-offs where you can stop and take pictures. At the Canyon overlook you can get out of your car and walk the one mile round trip trail to view the West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin.

7 Awesome Things to do with Kids in Oregon

Oregon is truly a visitor’s paradise, offering an abundance of things to see and do. But its not just grownups who have a great time in this state. There are a plethora of fun things for kids too, and we aren’t just talking your typical science centers and zoos. The state of Oregon encourages you to get outdoors with its towering ski hills, outdoor adventure centers, national parks and outdoor markets. You won’t find the kids telling you they are bored with any one of these 7 awesome things to do in Oregon.

7. Ski at Mt. Bachelor

Central Oregon’s most eligible ski gem Mt. Bachelor rises impressively over the high desert’s lava beds and pine forests. It hosts the highest-elevation ski runs in Oregon at just over 9,0000 feet and features 88 runs, seven high-speed quad lifts and a host of other activities that cater to the entire family. There are daily lessons to sign the kids up for, as well as adult lessons for the grownups.

If the kiddos don’t feel like strapping on the skies or snowboard, why not head over to the Snowblast Tubing Hill where kids and adults can slide down the 800ft hill. There are also free interpretive tours with a forest service naturalist on snowshoes. For something a little different why not head over to Oregon Trail of Dreams, a company offering winter sled dog rides. In the summertime Mt. Bachelor offers kids bike camps, disc golf, scenic chairlift rides and hiking.

6. Explore Crater Lake National Park

Traveling to Crater Lake National Park with kids is one serious volcano adventure that will thrill both the kids and the adults. The color of the water will surprise you, as it shines a brilliant blue, due to the fact that no streams flow into it and there is no sediment or other things to cloud the water. Head to the Rim Village Visitors Center where the kids can grab Junior Ranger booklets and check out the junior ranger activities that happen throughout the day.

Take the Rim Drive which offers many different outlooks as it loops around the lake, just make sure not to stop at every outlook as the kids will get bored. The two-hour boat trip around the lake is the perfect activity for kids, as they will learn about the different formations and history of the lake, or head to Cleetwood Cove which has access to the Lake, just beware the water is cold!

5. Play at Cannon Beach

This beautiful beach is known as the gem of the Oregon Coast, beckoning visitors from all over the world, along with a slew of locals who come to play here. The massive beach is a total of nine miles long and provides visitors with views of the Pacific Ocean and incredible sea stacks, including the iconic 235-ft. Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach is also full of tide pools featuring crabs, sea stars and other fascinating specimens.

Bonfires are popular amongst locals and visitors when the sun starts to fade and it’s an epic spot to watch a colorful sunset. In the sleepy town of Cannon Beach, visitors will find a handful of restaurants, galleries, cafes and a quaint small town feel.

4. Shop at the Portland Saturday Market

Head to the beautiful city of Portland where craft beer flows freely and the people are friendly. But there is more than that here in this wonderful city, including a plethora of awesome things to do with the kids. Besides the typical playgrounds and child-friendly activities, the Portland Saturday Market offers families the perfect outdoor outing. It is the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States.

This outdoor arts and craft markets are packed full of street entertainers, magicians and plenty of food trucks. Kids activities vary from week to week but include things like visitors from the Oregon Zoo, face painting, a puppet theatre and more. The main stage features a variety of local musicians and entertainers each week.

3. Explore Mt. Hood

There is endless fun for kids in the Mt. Hood area whether you are heading here in the winter or summer. Summertime brings free fishing clinics and guided hikes in the Mt. Hood National Forest, along with thousands of miles of hiking trails, with plenty of them family-friendly. Trillium and Frog Lake are the perfect canoe or kayak destinations and there are plenty of shops that offer rentals to visitors.

The Mt. Hood Adventure Park is open both summer and wintertime and provides endless hours of fun for all ages. In the wintertime plan on the kids sliding down the hills on tubes, riding kiddie sized snowmobiles, and an indoor heated play zone. In the summertime at this resort kids will have a blast mountain biking, bungee trampoline jumping, mini-golfing, rock climbing and more.

2. Visit Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

This 32,000-acre wonderland was created by ocean currents mixing with powerful winds, turning this landscape into more sandy hills and valleys then you can ever imagine. It is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America and there is no place like it on earth. Wind-sculpted dunes tower over 500-feet above sea level and provide a playground like no other.

Thousands come to drive these sands, whether on a motorcycle, quad 4X4 or sand rail. There are numerous rental shops in the area in case you don’t happen to have your own off-road vehicle. Besides whipping across the dunes, there are a plethora of other activities here such as hiking, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and camping. With over 30 lakes, ponds and streams and some awesome coastal forest to explore, get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

1. Whitewater Raft on the Deschutes River

There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had in Oregon, especially when it comes to the town of Bend. From this town, families can book an exciting whitewater rafting excursion on the Deschutes River. Sun Country Tours have been running whitewater rafting excursions since 1978 and offer a number of family-friendly rides.

The Big Eddy Thriller is a favorite amongst families as the little ones don’t even have to paddle! Splashing through rapids that range form class I to class III, there is plenty of float time in-between for little ones to catch their breath. You will get all the gear you need, experienced guides, life vests and one heck of a good time!

The World’s Scariest Stairs

Stairways have the ability to be beautiful, graceful and elegant but not all stairs are created equally. There are hundreds of thousands of staircases around the world that are downright scary, for many different reasons. Some have caused death, many are falling apart and others lead to eerie experiences. From the depths of Paris to the peaks in Yosemite to the tops of temples; here are 12 of the world’s scariest staircases.

12. Inca Stairs, Peru

The Inca Stairs leads up to one of the most famous photographed peaks, carved into the side of Huayna Picchu and they are among the scariest stairs in the world. If you want to ascend these stairs you will have to be one of the first 400 visitors to the ruins, as in recent years the park has capped the number of climbers.

A total of about 600 feet of steep granite rocks create the stairs and in recent years metal chains have been added to some parts that are especially dangerous. The stairs lead to the Moon Temple, one of the least visited worship places in Machu Picchu and many do not make it all the way up them as they are that scary. The views from the top are surreal, overlooking the Urubamba River and the ruins below.

11. Moaning Cavern Stairs, California, USA

The bones of approximately 100 prehistoric humans were once found at the bottom of these stairs, in this largest single-chamber public cave in California. In order to reach this cave, that is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in, climbers must descend 235 stairs, 144 of which are on a spiral staircase.

This damp cave is known for its eeriness, sounds of moaning and wailing are often heard as visitors make their way down. Back in the early 1900’s before the stairs were built visitors were actually lowered into the cavern in buckets with only candles or whale oil lamps to light the way. The history of this place, along with the creepy sounds will surely make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.

Via Pintrest

10. Cape Horn Stairs, Chile

Cape Horn is known as the last piece of land on earth before Antarctica and this tiny little piece of land is visited by few people. Most people come here to visit the Albatross Monument, a monument dedicated to the thousands of sailors that lost their lives in the treacherous seas. To climb these stairs you must first be able to get here, a harrowing thought considering only seven cruise ships disembark at the Island.

Grab your rain gear and some water as you land on the island to face 162 slippery ocean sprayed stairs. By the time you reach the top you will most likely be soaked, cold and wind whipped. The hardest part of the stairs comes at the top when the stairs flatten into tiers of wooden boardwalk, slippery, soaked and covered in mist. The reward when you climb these stairs is access to a place that few ever get to visit.

9. Sagrada Familia, Spain

It was clear when architects built this Roman Catholic Church they did not consider the number of people who would be coming here to worship. Gaudi has envisioned a forest canopy when designing the rooftop here but didn’t quite think of what the stairs would look like when more and more people came.

The spiral staircase to the top is downright scary, void of any banisters or handrails. It coils high and long against the tightly enclosed walls and at anytime hordes of people are trying to ascend and descend. Many people avoid this church simply because of the stairs and if you think are brave enough to challenge it, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

8. Flørli Stairs, Norway

These stairs pride themselves on being the longest wooden staircase on earth, made up of 4,444 steps that ascend 2,427 feet from the bottom. They start at the edge of Lysefjord and run to the top of the mountain in the small village of Flørli. The stairs run alongside the former water pipes as the now abandoned village of Flørli used to be a power plant village.

The stairs seemingly cling to the side of the mountain and provide breathtaking views all the way up. Count on questioning every creak you hear as you ascend up as these stairs, as they are both old and noisy, due in large part to the fact they are wooden. The hike up will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours and at the top, you will be rewarded with fantastic views and a history lesson from the historic hydropower hall that still exists.

Via Pulpit Rock Experience

7. Angkor Wat Temple Stairs, Cambodia

These stairs were supposedly created to be steep, in order to remind climbers that heaven is hard to reach. Therefore it seems there is no shame in hanging your head, dropping down to your hands and knees or pulling yourself up with the ropes provided to reach the uppermost temples. The stairs are actually inclined at a 70 degree angle and are known to be some of the steepest stairs in the world.

Many people have actually spoken out about these stairs, proclaiming that it’s not right to have tempting stairs in a worship area. Take extreme caution if you choose to climb these stairs as one missed step can lead to you tumbling down them, sure to cause injury and maybe even death.

6. Half Dome Stairs, California, USA

Located in Yosemite National Park, these next stairs lead up to the most iconic peak in Yosemite Valley but getting up here is only possible for about 400 people a day. Snag one of these hard to get permits between Memorial Day and October to attempt this gruesome seven mile all-incline hike. What awaits climbers is a climb up a rock face along a cable ladder, for more than 400 vertical feet. It is absolutely essential that climbers check the weather forecast before attempting this hike as people have fallen to their death.

Proper footwear and gear is a necessity and be aware that if you try and climb these stairs without a permit, you will face possible jail time and fines. Hikers will be rewarded at the top with incredible panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

5. Catacombs, Paris

Most everyone has heard of the Catacombs, the home of the remains of more than six million people, and if visiting isn’t scary enough, one has to contend with the creepy staircases. To reach the actual catacombs visitors will have to descend 130 steps, a narrow spiral stone staircase that leaves many claustrophobic. The sun and light quickly fade away as you descend into the darkness where bones and skulls await.

There is another set of stairs that await visitors on the way out, this one made up of only 83 stairs and most people ascend them quickly, wanting to get back into the fresh air and sunlight. A dizzying spiral staircase leading to rooms of bones; yup we think that qualifies as one of the scariest sets of stairs in the world.

4. Taihang Mountains Spiral Staircase, China

Far southwest of Beijing is a 300-foot tall spiral staircase that draws visitors from all over the world. That, in fact, was the goal of this incredible staircase when it was built, to encourage visitors to come to the Taihang Mountains in Linzhou. This so called “Stairway to Heaven” is built right on the side of the mountain and offers incredible views. But not just anyone is allowed to climb this staircase.

All potential climbers here have to sign a form stating that they have no heart or lung problems and that they are under 60 years of age. Looking more like a beanstalk, this dizzying staircase is not meant for the weak and visitors who plan on going on should be in good shape. No one quite knows what will happen if you lie about your age, but we suggest sticking to the rules and getting here before you turn 60.

Via Daily Mail

3. Pailon del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

Translate the name of this waterfall into English and you get “The Devil’s Cauldron”, therefore it should come as no surprise that these stairs are extremely scary! They were built to blend into the landscape and at first glance, you won’t even notice them but be aware, these steps can play tricks on you. The steps themselves are made out of smooth, oversize pebbles that become slippery from the mist of the waterfalls and offer extremely little traction.

When looking down at them they create an illusion of a slippery stone slide and the chance of falling off is high. For those of you who want something to hold onto, there is a metal railing that runs the length of the stairs. Don’t depend too much on it though, it gets slippery from all the water droplets and some say it’s really not that sturdy. The view of the waterfall from the top though is totally worth trekking up and down these stairs.

2. Haiku Stairs, Oahu, Hawaii

These stairs are actually so scary that they have been banned, as in no one is allowed to use them anymore. This rickety set of 3,922 stairs lead half a mile up Oahu’s Koolau Mountain Range. These stairs were actually contrasted in 1942 by the U.S Navy as a means to install communication wires and were nicknamed the “Highway to Heaven”. Daredevil hikers quickly discovered them after WWII and started to climb them for their absolutely incredible views.

In the 1980’s the stairs were officially closed to the public due to safety reasons, although many chose to ignore it and still climbed them. Nowadays there is a guard placed at the bottom of the stairs and many of them were destroyed when a storm blew through in 2015. It is unsure what the future of these stairs is, but if they ever happen to reopen we suggest tackling them, as even though they are scary, the views are beyond words.

1. Mount Huashan Heavenly Stairs, China

It is considered one of the most dangerous walks in the world and although the name deceives you with the word “heaven”, these stairs are more like hell. No one in history has actually even counted the number of steps, perhaps they lost count as they peered over the edge and were faced with a deathly drop. The stairs are carved into a sacred Taoist mountain and go so high up into the mountainside you lose track of them.

The side stone steps are supported by a single railing in which many trekkers hang on to as they ascend up. Unfortunately, if you thought these steps were the most dangerous part, you would be wrong. What awaits climbers after these steps is a trail known as the most dangerous on earth, a horizontal walkway consisting of planks fastened to the side of the mountain with just a single chain.

Via The Beauty of Travel

7 Small Alberta Towns with Big Appeal

Alberta; a province teeming with mountains, valleys, prairies, and lakes is bursting with incredible small towns with big appeal. Escape the hustle and bustle of the capital city and get out and explore some of the smaller surrounding towns which offer friendly people, amazing recreation opportunities, and fascinating history. From a UNESCO Heritage Site to a bilingual community, there is something special and unique about all these towns. Whether you are there to visit or to live; these 7 Small Alberta towns have big appeal.

7. Canmore, AB

Boasting a population of just over 13,000 this small mountain town in Alberta features young, energetic, diverse and well-educated people. If you are looking for outdoor enjoyment this town is certainly for you as activities range from hiking to mountain biking to kayaking to skiing in the winter months. All in all the city is home to five different ski resorts and over 71km’s of hiking trails within the city limits.

Artists and photographers flock to this town for inspiration and recreation and tourism are the major economic drivers. Many residents who live here actually work in the neighboring community of Banff, which is a tourism hot spot all year round. Canmore, although popular with tourists offers a more laid-back lifestyle, with a strong sense of community, incredible mountain views and plenty of work available.

6. Legal, AB

This satellite community is located just 50km north of Edmonton and offers a clean and peaceful living environment for all of its residents, especially if you happen to speak French. Originally settled as a francophone settlement the town is still bilingual and the surrounding farms and landscape make this a beautiful place to live. It is known as the French Mural Capital of Canada, featuring 28 colorful murals around town and combined with extremely low crime and clean streets, it is easy to see the appeal here.

The center of town is where the community really gets together, Citadel Park, a 12-acre area features an indoor arena, curling rink, baseball diamonds, and playgrounds. Everywhere the community holds a festival called Fete Au Village, which brings the community together and celebrates its French culture.

Via ReadersDigest

5. Camrose, AB

This town began when one man brought a wagon load of lumber to the area and built the first store, in what is now downtown Camrose. From there more buildings and houses were erected, 40 of them which still stand in the historic downtown. With a population nearing 20,000 there is plenty of unique dining and shopping areas in this town. Residents here range from history buffs to artists to everything in between and although this city is home to almost 20,000 people it still retains its small-town feel.

That may be due largely in part to extensive park and trail system that the community has developed. One would be hard-pressed to find another small town that boasts as many parks as this one including a wonderful trail that leads you to the beautiful Mirror Lake. Playgrounds, arenas, skate parks, great schools and great people make this town appealing to everyone.

Via TheWeatherNetwork

4. Lacombe, AB

With a population of just under 12,000 residents, Lacombe is a town located just 25km’s from Red Deer. The town is set in the rolling parklands of Alberta, with the Rocky Mountain foothills to the west and the prairies to the east. It also happens to be one of the most fertile valleys in the area which both locals and visitors can take advantage of. Expect to see an abundance of “pick your own” farms here that feature local fresh produce including berries, tomatoes, cucumbers and more.

Perhaps even more popular are the excellent farmer’s markets located throughout. This sleepy little town offers its share of modern amenities as well including a recreation center, aquatic center, and arena. If campgrounds, hiking trails, and parks are what you are after, Lacombe offers that too. A strong community, a beautiful landscape and a slow down pace of life are what you will find in the small Alberta town.

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3. Slave Lake, AB

At the southeastern tip of Lesser Slave Lake lies a town of just under 8,000 residents. The Town of Slave Lake runs at a much slower pace than most towns in this province but offers lots of appeal for both residents and visitors. It is here where just steps away are the white sand beaches of Devonshire Beach, the lush boreal forests and Marten Mountain Viewpoint.

The region offers numerous outdoor activities all year round including hiking, camping, fishing, boating, ice fishing and off-roading. This town is slowly growing in tourism, creating jobs for residents and superior dining and accommodation choices. With breathtaking scenery, plenty of job opportunities and just 2.5 hours away from Edmonton, this small town truly offers it all. The small town also happens to be a great place to view the aurora borealis (Northen Lights).

2. Pincher Creek, AB

Welcome to the town of Picher Creek, population just under 4,000 and full of incredible scenery including mountains, water, and valleys. This electric small town begs you to swap out your pumps for a pair of cowboy boots, trade in your small fuel efficient car for a pickup truck and makes you forget something called Starbucks even exists.

What it offers instead is a charming small town lifestyle, full of friendly people, great dining options, flower baskets scattered throughout town and endless fresh air. There is no shortage of recreational opportunities and taking advantage of the gusty winds you can find pleasure in kite flying, boating, hunting, water skiing and more. This is a town where everyone will soon know your name, wildlife will stroll down the streets, barn dances happen weekly and the community is strong and like-minded.

1. Fort Macleod

This town is certainly not your average small prairie town, although with a population under 4,000; it at first seems just like one. History is at the forefront of this town and walking down the main street you will find yourself surrounded by significant Western Canadian history that dates back to the 1880’s. It has actually been designated as one of Alberta’s historic sites and just nearby a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the oldest and largest preserved buffalo jumps in North America.

Alberta’s oldest theatre is housed in the town, the River Valley Wilderness Park offers trails and playgrounds and the town is home to an awesome recreation center. Only an hour east of the Canadian Rockies, this small town hosts visitors from all over the province year round, yet still remains true to its small-town roots.

World’s 9 Most Dangerous Mountains for Rock Climbers

Although rock climbing accidents can happen even on small gentle hillsides, there are a number of rock climbing destinations worldwide that are known for being dangerous. Climbers looking for a real challenge are drawn to these destinations year after year, despite or perhaps because of these dangers. Read on to learn about the nine most dangerous rock climbs in the world.

1. El Capitan

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Standing more the 3,000 feet tall, the sheer vertical cliff face of El Capitan is without a doubt the most challenging rock climb in the world. Even the most experienced climbers using ropes and pitons take four or five days to reach the top, and they have to sleep in hammocks hung from pitons in the cliff face. Those looking for the ultimate challenge ascend the cliff with nothing more than their hands and feet.

2. K2

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The second highest mountain in the world, K2, is considered to be the most challenging climb. Steep sections of rock face are interwoven with seracs, or ice pillars, which are prone to collapse without warning. Legend has it that the mountain is cursed for women climbers.

3. Annapurna

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This Tibetan mountain is the tenth highest mountain in the world. Only about 150 people have ever tried to climb it, and of these 53 have died in the attempt. This fatality rate is the highest in the world.

4. Siula Grande

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This Andean mountain’s west face is a sheer vertical ascent, and it was not conquered until 1985, in one of the most thrilling rock climbing stories ever. Simpson and Yates, after reaching the summit via the western face, met with disaster on the way back down when Simpson fell and broke his leg. While Yates tried to help him down with a rope, he lost Simpson over a cliff. Five days later, as Yates was preparing to return home, Simpson hopped into camp on one leg, having survived the 100-foot fall and lived on melted snow.

5. Kangchenjunga

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Straddling the border between India and Nepal, this mountain is known for its incredible views. The bitterly cold weather and unpredictable avalanches make this one of the most dangerous rock climbs in the world.

6. The Eiger

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The northern face of this Alpine mountain has a name that says it all: the Murder Wall. Not only is it a difficult and challenging climb, heavy rockfalls regularly scour this face of the mountain clean of anything, and anyone, on it.

7. The Matterhorn

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This mountain, the most famous in the Alps, gets its name because it looks like a giant horn towering above the landscape. It also has one of the highest fatality rates in the Alps. The technical difficulty of the climb is made worse by regular avalanches and rockfalls. The popularity of the mountain also means that climbing routes can become dangerously overcrowded.

8. Mt. Everest

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When most people think of dangerous climbs, they think of Mt. Everest. While it is still a very dangerous climb, it has been attempted so many times that the dangers are well understood. More than 1,500 people have reached the summit, and nearly 150 have died in the attempt. Although today Sherpas regularly make the climb, they used to have a taboo against it.

9. Mt. Washington

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Few people think of the White Mountains in the eastern United States as particularly dangerous. However, they are home to the ninth most dangerous rock climb in the world. Although the mountain does not count amongst the tallest in the world, and none of its faces are truly vertical, it does have treacherous and difficult rocky terrain. What makes the climb truly dangerous, though, is the weather. Something strange about the air currents around the mountain makes it home to regular hurricane-force winds. The strongest wind ever recorded on Earth, 231 mph, was measured on this mountain. Ice pellets rain from the sky even in the summer, and storms can form almost without warning. The mountain has claimed more than 100 lives, and local folklore says that it is both haunted and cursed.

Take a Hike: 10 Famous Mountains Anyone Can Climb

The misconception some people have about the toughness and perils of mountain climbing can easily be dispelled. Mountaineering isn’t just about carrying along ropes, ice axes, cams and crampons. You don’t have to head for the Himalayas, the Andes or scale the remote ranges of Antarctica. Throw those old notions about the dangers of mountain climbing over the cliff. Explore the details of these 10 famous mountains anyone can climb.

1. Mount Fuji

It has been said that Japan’s Mount Fuji is the world’s most climbed mountain. At 12,388 feet, it is Japan’s tallest summit. It is located on Honshu Island 100 kilometers outside of Tokyo. The official climbing season is during the months of July and August. The view is spectacular with sunrises and sunsets being especially awesome.

Mount Fuji 1

2. Table Mountain, South Africa

This flat-topped mountain is 3,558 feet high and rises over beautiful Cape Town. It is reported to have over 300 hiking trails. People love to reach the summit for the view. The easiest climb is through the Back Table via the Jeep Track. For extra incentive, there is a cafe at the top of Table Mountain. It is a bit expensive though, so don’t drop your wallet on the way up.

Table Mountain, South Africa

3. Half-Dome, USA

Overlooking Yosemite Valley is the stony Half Dome, one of the world’s most stunning rock formations. The hiking trail here starts in the valley at Happy Isles. At 8,835 feet the views across Yosemite are breath-taking. There are reassuring steel cables along the last leg of the climb along the northeast shoulder.

Half-Dome, USA

4. Colorado’s Fourteeners

Not all of these 55 Colorado peaks are too challenging for the beginner. All in the range of 14,000 feet,some are excellent for learning basic mountain climbing and hiking skills. Stay on the standard hiking trails and away from places like Longs Peak and Capitol Peak where you will need climbing equipment and advanced mountain climbing skills.

Colorado's Fourteeners

5. Mt. Sinai, Egypt

If Moses climbed down with stone tablets, this mountain should be a breeze to climb. The 7,246 ascend begins at St. Catherine’s Monastery. Take the camel trail or the famous 3,750 Steps of Repentance. The lofty summit takes around 2 hours to reach by the trail. The view of bare mountains and deep valleys is spectacular and well worth the climb.

Mt. Sinai, Egypt

6. Mount Olympus, Greece

At 9,570, Mount Olympus is Greece’s highest mountain and home of the mythical Olympian gods. Begin at the tiny town of Prionia. It will take much of two days to reach Mytikas, the highest peak and then return back down again. Be sure to sign the visitor’s register.

Mount Olympus, Greece

7. Kilimanjaro, Africa

It sounds scary, but Kilimanjaro actually has several different peaks. The lowest is the dormant volcano Shira at a little over 13,000 feet. Trips up to the peaks are divided into six itineraries. The easiest one is the Marangu itinerary.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa

8. Ben Nevis, Scotland

The UK’s highest mountain is not very tall. Ben Nevis is a mere 3,900 feet high. Walkers and climbers crowd this little mountain to follow the Mountain Track. For a bit more of a challenge, try the peak of Carn Mor Dearg which has a thrilling rock ridge.

Ben Nevis, Scotland

9. Mount Elbrus, Russia

The twin peaks of Mount Elbrus are surprisingly Europe’s highest point at 18,510 feet. It straddles the Russia-Georgia border. It is much less daunting to climb than it looks. There is even a chair lift to get you started. Camp 11 is above the chair lift and the summit can be reached in eight hours.

Mount Elbrus, Russia

10. Jebel Toubkal, Morocco 

At 13,671, Jebel Toubkal is the highest mountain in North Africa. Even so, it is an easy climb. Two hours from Marrakesh by car is the village of Imlil where the trail begins. The greatest challenge is the long scree slopes where the walking experience turns into something like quicksand.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco

World’s 9 Most Amazing Active Volcanoes

Volcanoes are some of the most powerful natural phenomenon on earth. When they erupt, deadly magma flows down the side of the structure, bringing ash, rock and water barreling down rapidly at more than 1,000 degrees. More than 100,000 people have been killed by volcanoes. Currently, there are more than 1,000 active volcanoes in the world. Here are nine of the world’s most amazing active volcanoes.

1. Mount Fuji

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Located in Japan, this explosive volcano last erupted in 1707, spraying ash all over the area. The seismic activity increased slightly in 2000, causing alarm about a possible eruption. Each year, over 200,000 adventurers climb the majestic structure, and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan.

2. Mount Vesuvius

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This astonishing volcano is notorious for the deadly eruption that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing more than 20,000 people. The A.D. 79 volcano eruption was the first eruption to be documented in detail. Another eruption occurred in 1631, and 4,000 individuals were killed. Millions of people live close to the volcano, so another eruption could result in thousands of lives being lost. Situated in Italy, this majestic volcano last erupted in 1944. This amazing volcano is astonishing.

3. Mount Etna

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Situated on the east coast of Italy near Sicily, this mighty volcano has more recorded eruptions than any other volcano in history. One of the most catastrophic eruptions occurred in 1669 when more than 1,500 people were killed. The most recent scare took place in 1992 when dangerous lava flowed down on the area. Experts believe that Etna is so active because it sits on a fault. Today, people ski on the mountain, and many locals grow olives, grapes, or fruit on the land. When the volcano erupts, it is a beautiful sight.

4. Kilauea

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This Hawaiian volcano is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. In the 1900s, there were almost 50 eruptions, and the last eruption took place in 2011. According to Hawaiian legend, The Goddess of Fire resides in the volcano. This majestic mountain, located on the Big Island, attracts millions of tourists each year, so it is an astonishing sight.

5. Santa Maria

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This magnificent volcano, located in Guatemala, caused one of the largest eruptions in recent memory when the mountain exploded in 1902. The volcano is considered dangerous because a huge lava-dome structure formed in the crater caused by the 1902 eruption. If the dome collapses, it could cause thousands of deaths.

6. Mayon Volcano

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Situated in the Philippines, this cone-shaped mountain has erupted almost 50 times in the past 400 years. The worst eruption took place in 1814 when more than 2,000 people were killed. When the mountain erupts, lava and mudflow down, putting countless lives in danger. The last recorded eruption occurred in 2010.

7. Osorno

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This active volcano, situated in Chile, is remarkable. About 12 eruptions have occurred since 1575. The lava flow that occurred during these eruptions was powerful. You can see breathtaking views of the mountain from Llanquihue Lake.

8. Stromboli

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Nicknamed the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean, this active volcano has erupted frequently for the last 200 years. It is one of the most visited volcanoes in the world. The eruptions are a remarkable sight. Masses of molten rock spew from the volcano, creating an incredible display.

9. Mount Yasur

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Situated on Tanna, this impressive mountain allows visitors the opportunity to just stroll right up and look down into its center. Three people have been killed because they wandered into dangerous territory. When explosions take place, the earth shakes violently, shooting fragments in the air.