A glimpse of old and new in Tokyo and neighboring Saitama

Visitors to Japan can experience rich history without sacrificing modern amenities thanks to the traditional locales preserved amid the glass and steel of the country’s cities. Tokyo and its northern neighbor Saitama Prefecture abound with historic sites, modern buildings and lush greenery, while carrying on the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This article examines some of the nearly countless things to see and do in these areas. It’s been more than two years since Tokyo hosted the

Seven Spectacular Rail Trails for Fall

These former rail routes feature generally easy grades, lots of rich history, inviting pit stops and plenty of fall foliage. The Appalachian Mountains were the first formidable obstacle to America’s railroading boom—a vexing challenge for engineers. Still, by the late 1800s, the region was crisscrossed with rail lines, linking remote, mountain-cradled communities and expediting the extraction of the region’s natural resources—especially coal and timber. But, this railroading boom was relatively

Lights Out

Dark skies are scarce in the United States, especially east of the Mississippi River, where light pollution hinders views of the cosmos, particularly in urban areas. Nationally, about 99% of the population experiences a phenomenon known as sky glow, the illumination of the evening sky over inhabited areas. In the United States, there are 85 Dark Sky Parks certified by the International Dark Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit that seeks to preserve the night sky by reducing light pollut

Ski an Old Coal Town That Nearly Became a Ghost Town

Just 50 years ago, the town of Davis seemed likely to become a ghost town. The story of the West Virginia hamlet read similar to other coal towns in the US: once-rich natural resources were depleted until the land ran dry and no work was to be found. But the region’s natural assets saved Davis once again. Thanks to its high altitude and abundance of snow, Davis went from a coal town to a ghost town to a thriving ski town. Perched at 3,100 feet, it’s probably no surprise that this highest town in

8 Haunted Trails in National Parks You Can Hike (if You Dare)

America’s national parks preserve some of the country’s most spectacular natural assets. And these protected areas also often have a rich past – but sometimes, that past is terribly tragic. Morbid historical events in many of these parks have inspired spooky legends that endure today, from tales of murder to mysterious illnesses. Though these haunted trails are great for Halloween hiking, they’re also fascinating places to check out year-round, especially for hikers on the hunt for spooky spect

The Wilder Side of the Outer Banks

The sun is just beginning to rise as I steer away from the Atlantic Ocean toward the wetland-dappled Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula. It’s a Thursday morning and there’s little traffic. In the rearview, sunlight is spreading over groves of loblolly pine, and along the road, snow-white egrets are browsing the marshlands cradling the Roanoke Sound. The landscape rapidly dissolves into water as I cross the Roanoke Sound and then the Croatan Sound on Route 64, heading west toward the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. After the small town of Mann’s Harbor, the landscape instantly becomes wilder, the road edged with sawgrass marsh studded with spindly ghost trees, claimed by encroaching saltwater. I’m hoping to get to the refuge early enough to spot one of the region’s red wolves, among one of the most endangered carnivores on earth.

Paddle, Hike, or Drive To These 6 Sites for Adirondacks Camping in New York

Designated as “Forever Wild,” New York’s Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. A collage of forests, sprawling wetlands, serpentine rivers, and high peaks, the park was protected in 1892 – and today, encompasses more than 6 million acres, including 1 million acres of wilderness. The mammoth park is dappled with more than 300 lakes and ponds, and perforated by nearly 6,000 miles of rivers and streams. On dry land, the protected area is traversed b

5 State Parks for Camping on the Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is an ecological wonder. The third largest estuary on the planet, the Bay stretches for more than 200 miles, cradled by Maryland and Virginia, and edged by more than 11,680 miles of tidal shoreline. A highly-productive ecosystem, the massive estuary harbors more than 3,600 species of animals and plants, including rare marine creatures like Atlantic sturgeon, basking sharks, and North Atlantic right whales. Of course, the Chesapeake Bay is also an economic powerhouse, churning

Pitch Your Tent at These 10 Rad West Coast BLM Camping Spots

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages more than 245 acres of public land across the United States – nearly 12 percent of the entire country. While some land under the agency’s purview is dedicated to managing natural resources like ores and timber, the BLM also oversees more than 35 million acres of what they call “National Conservation Lands.” That includes national monuments, wilderness areas, and national scenic trails. Most of these National Conservation Lands are in the West and focu

The 8 Hardest Mountain Biking Trails in the US, From Moab To Tahoe

From the red rock deserts of the Southwest to the leafy summits of the Blue Ridge Mountains, America’s most striking natural features have also inspired some of the country’s most extreme mountain biking trails. Studded with bone-rattling rock gardens, technical stretches of slickrock, adrenaline-charged drops, and ledges to inspire vertigo, these rides are not for beginners – or the faint of heart. With routes across 20 different states rated as Epics by the International Mountain Biking Assoc

5 Backpacking Trips for Beginners Ready to Explore

Ready to make the leap from casual hiker to full-on backpacker? The Blue Ridge is full of accessible escapes that are just remote enough for first forays into backcountry overnights. From spruce groves in the mountains to isolated wetlands near the coast, here are a handful of beginner-friendly destinations with easy-to-follow routes and minimal elevation change. Spread over the flanks of Spruce Mountain, a knob-studded ridgeline in West Virginia’s branch of the Allegheny Mountains, the Spruce

Celebrate a Return to Travel with These 15 Iconic Hikes • Mindful Escapes

After a year of hunkering down, borders are opening and travelers are ready to rediscover the world. These 15 iconic hikes, detailed by travel writer Malee Baker Oot, offer a chance to celebrate the world from a new perspective. The planet is crisscrossed with epic trails, from the Alps to the Andes. There are snowy summit trips for fleet-footed peak-baggers, long and leisurely rambles for wildlife lovers, and everything in between. While the options are almost infinite, here are a few epic hik

Where to Go For an Epic VanLife Ski Trip

If Instagram is a way measure to the cultural zeitgeist, the #VanLife movement has been having a moment. A significant number of Americans are embracing a semi-nomadic lifestyle — at least temporarily, and hitting the road to seek out life-list destinations, under-the-radar spots, and outdoor adventures. Of course, there are perks to road-tripping in a van or RV — you can travel on a budget, with the freedom and flexibility to spend extra time in jaw-dropping locations and bring pets along on t

The Best Dive Spots in the U.S. During the Winter Months

Winter may not seem like an ideal time for a subaquatic adventure, but throughout the United States, there are diving destinations that are especially spectacular during the winter. From inland locations to wildlife-rich springs, to warm coastal waters, there are winter destinations for divers of all skill levels scattered throughout the United States. And for beginners considering a trip, PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), the world’s largest organization of divers and ocean

The 5 Best Beaches for Camping Like a Castaway in 2021

Discovering a private stretch of beach is like stumbling on a slice of paradise. And, one of the best ways to seek out your own swath of shoreline is with a beach camping trip. Offering a chance to spy migrating marine creatures, catch epic sunrises, and fall asleep to the sound of the tide, a beach campout makes for an idyllic getaway any time of year. In the south, ocean temperatures are still warm enough for swimming well into the fall, and beaches situated along the Atlantic Flyway offer the

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

WILD APPALACHIA A journey through West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest

The landscape changes conspicuously as I leave West Virginia’s knobby Eastern Panhandle and steer toward the heart of the Mountain State. Along the road, cattle wade through chest-high grass in pastures nestled against thickly forested mountain slopes, and long-tailed cowbirds perch on wooden fence posts tufted with wildflowers. As I turn toward the eastern edge of the mammoth Monongahela National Forest, I crack the window for my hound dog Ruthie, and she thrusts her snout into the breeze, inhaling greedily.
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