Malee Baker Oot

Malee is a freelance writer, outdoor enthusiast, and overzealous amateur photographer. She currently lives just outside Washington, DC with her sassy coonhound Baby Ruth.

Night Hiking 101: How to Hike in the Dark

Hitting the trail after sunset might seem counterintuitive, but there are plenty of reasons to take a moonlit trek. A night hike can be a uniquely engaging sensory experience, making even the most familiar trail feel like a novel exploration. And, hiking beneath starry skies provides plenty of opportunities to admire the cosmos and perfect your night photography skills. In the wilderness, there’s also a good chance you will encounter nocturnal or crepuscular critters, like dive-bombing bats, bro

The 10 Best National Forests to Visit in America

America’s National Forest system stretches over 193 million acres, including 154 protected forests and grasslands spread over 43 different states and Puerto Rico. But, with 158,000 miles of trails, along with more than 36.6 million acres of federally designated wilderness, there’s a lot out there to explore. For starters, here’s a shortlist of some of the country’s most stunning national forests. Just south of Glacier National Park, Montana’s 2.4-million-acre Flathead National Forest extends ov

Best Backpacking Trips for Adventurers To Take at Least Once

For many backpackers, America’s Triple Crown of Hiking – a title bestowed for completing the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail – is a life-list aspiration. But, beyond the country’s legendary long trails, there are plenty of other iconic treks. From the glacial peaks of the Cascades to the thickly forested foothills of the southern Appalachian Mountains, here’s are a few of the country’s most spectacular backpacking trips. Threading a rugged stretch of

Backpacking Guide: How to Backpack in 2021

Heading out into the wilderness with just a backpack is an unforgettable way to spend time outdoors. A backcountry expedition offers the opportunity to unplug from technology and unwind from the daily grind while providing the chance to admire jaw-dropping natural wonders, have intimate encounters with wildlife, and seek out epic stargazing spots. But, even for seasoned car-campers, making the leap to backpacking is a still big step. When you’re ready, here’s how to plan your first backcountry g

A road trip in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest

Soaring above the North Fork of the Potomac River’s South Branch, the 900-foot Tuscarora quartzite formation known as Seneca Rocks is an exceptionally photogenic natural landmark sculpted by more than 440 years of geological processes. The formation’s interior pinnacle, known as the Gendarme, toppled in 1987, and today, the crag includes both a north and a south peak. The first recorded ascents of the vertiginous crag began in the 1930s, although a climbing party that scaled the massif in 1939 d

Six National Wildlife Refuges to Kayak this Summer

Preserving precious patches of habitat across the country, America’s national wildlife refuges are hubs of biodiversity and havens for native wildlife. In the Southeast, more than 85 different national wildlife refuges provide sanctuary for endangered and imperiled species, including red wolves, loggerhead sea turtles, and red-cockaded woodpeckers. For recreational paddlers, the region’s refuges offer an abundance of extraordinary waterways to explore. Just west of the beaches of the Outer Bank

How to Tackle Your First Solo Hike

Hiking buddies are great and all, but solo trekking might be even better. Hiking alone offers the chance to unplug and savor a bit of solitude. It allows you to set your own pace. It can even lead to memorable encounters with reclusive wildlife. Hitting the trail alone also provides an opportunity to test your mettle and build confidence. Of course, heading out into the wilderness alone also inevitably involves greater inherent risk. But with the proper planning and preparation, a solo hike c

8 Things to Do on a Road Trip through Southern Maryland

Just 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., a bulge in the Potomac River has become the final resting place for more than 150 sunken vessels, including a longboat from the Revolutionary War. Now protected as the Mallows Bay-Potomac National Marine Sanctuary, the ship graveyard harbors the remains of an entire emergency fleet of wooden steamships, hastily constructed during the first World War, when German submarines were creating havoc in the seas. Even with shipyards around the country churning ou

10 things to do on a Southwest Virginia road trip

Spread over the ridges and valleys of Appalachia, Southwest Virginia lays claim to some of the Old Dominion state’s most spectacular natural wonders. The region is blanketed by massive swaths of the Jefferson National Forest, threaded by the oldest waterway in the U.S., and crowned by the highest peak in the state. Southwest Virginia is also celebrated as the birthplace of country music, spearheaded by legends like the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers. Then, there’s moonshine. During Prohi

Why an Inflatable SUP Might Be Right for You | Salamander Paddle Gear

So, you’re considering buying a stand-up paddleboard (SUP)? Good decision. Whether you want a core workout, a board to ride ocean waves, or a way to explore a local lake, a stand-up paddleboard is the perfect adventure accessory. The hard part is deciding on the right SUP to suit your needs. When you’re shopping for a board, you should consider several things, including the shape, length, and construction of the board. Plus, you should take into account the types of paddling you prefer, whether

Chasing Winter: 7 Best Places to Hit the Slopes When It’s Summer in the States

For some folks, finding powder year-round is what it’s all about. Fortunately, the arrival of summer in the United States doesn’t have to mean shelving the skis for the season. When it’s warming up in the Lower 48, there’s still plenty of snow to be found in the Southern Hemisphere. From the high Andes to the Southern Alps, here are seven of the best places on the planet to hit the slopes when it’s summertime in the U.S. Nestled in Australia’s Snowy Mountains within the bounds of Kosciuszko Nat

Red Wolves: Hanging in the Balance

Gravel crackles under my tires and horseflies ping off the windows as I slow to a stop beside a mound of black bear scat, near the northeastern edge of North Carolina’s 152,000-acre Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I turn off the engine and scan the dew-slickened pasture beside the road, hoping to see the flash of a cinnamon-colored coat. But other than the turkey vultures circling overhead, it’s still. Just as I’m about to start the engine, I notice some movement. In the distance, three dark blotches hover at the edge of a grove of loblolly pine. When I blink, the smudgy splotches sharpen into distinct shapes, a black bear and two cubs, ambling toward the road. I watch them for a moment, but they are not who I’m after. I’m looking for one of the rarest creatures on earth — the red wolf.

10 of the Best Day Hikes in America

For hikers, America offers a scenic smorgasbord. It has 419 national park system sites scattered throughout the country and it’s home to some of the planet’s most celebrated long-distance footpaths, including the Appalachian Trail in the East, and the Pacific Crest Trail in the West. The U.S. is also brimming with epic day-hikes, from the high peaks of the Sierras to the blue-hued summits of the Smokies. For all those hikers who can’t spend months tackling an epic long-distance trail, here are a

The Roving Dolphins of the Potomac River

The Roving Dolphins of the Potomac River A significant number of bottlenose dolphins frequent recovering East Coast waterways, but researchers still know little about them. In the early 1600s, English explorer John Smith described the Potomac River as an Edenic waterway teeming with wildlife. Early colonists also reported gargantuan sturgeon and massive schools of fish – and at his waterside estate, Mount Vernon, George Washington himself had three commercial fisheries on the Potomac River. O

How to Pack for Your First Safari

Whether it’s a visit to the Serengeti for the annual wildebeest migration, a trip through the Okavango Delta in a dugout canoe, or a mountain gorilla spotting trek in the Virunga Mountains, an African safari is an unforgettable experience. But, packing for your first safari can seem like a formidable task. While every trip is unique, there are a few gear essentials that will ensure you stay comfortable, healthy, and make the most of your inaugural safari. Forget about being fashionable on safar

Why You Should Visit a State Park This Year (Plus a Few of Our Favorites)

While America’s national parks deservedly draw attention, the country’s most iconic protected areas can also be flooded with visitors. State parks, on the other hand, are often overlooked. But these natural assets protect some of the country’s most spectacular features, from the biodiversity-rich waters of the Florida Keys to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, and are filled with recreational opportunities. With alluring options in all 50 states, state parks may not get the attention of t

In the midst of a prolonged drought, Zimbabwe is undertaking a massive wildlife relocation

In the midst of a prolonged drought gripping southern Africa, Zimbabwe is undertaking a massive relocation in an effort to save imperilled wildlife plagued by water scarcity. The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority reported that more than 200 elephants have died over the last two months at drought-afflicted protected areas, including Hwange and Mana Pools national parks. In mid-November, the agency announced plans to move 600 elephants along with 2,000 impalas, 50 buffalo,
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