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Tahoe National Forest | Travel

Tahoe National Forest | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Tahoe National Forest | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Tahoe National Forest was a lovely precursor to arriving in Lake Tahoe, California. The sky was mostly covered in wildfire smoke, creating a white backdrop as I drove between the large pines.

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore

  1. Boca Historic Townsite - an interpretive trail takes you through the once historic town.

  2. Calpine Lookout - a restored lookout station, available for rent, offers a unique overnight stay in the national forest.

  3. Frazier Falls - an easy half mile hike (each way) takes you over a wooden bridge, above a creek, to a peaceful view of the 176 foot falls.

  4. Highway 49 - this scenic road takes you along the North Yuba River and many quaint gold rush towns.

  5. Placer Big Trees - a grove of Giant Sequoias overlooking the Middle Fork American River.

What are some of your favorite spots in Tahoe National Forest?

Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel

Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Driving through Northern California, I was unsure what to expect upon arriving at Lassen Volcanic National Park. This was my first view, walking up to the edge of Manzanita Lake. Smoke from nearby wildfires drifted in throughout my stay and kept hiking mileage to a minimum.

Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore

  1. Devils Kitchen Trail - a little over four miles, this moderate hike goes by mudpots, streams, two lakes and, of course, through the Devils Kitchen hydrothermal area.

  2. Lassen Peak Trail - this strenuous, five mile trail to the summit will take between four and five hours to complete.

  3. Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway - a beautiful, diverse 30-mile road through the park.

  4. Mill Creek Falls Trail - another moderate trail, a little over 3 miles in length, sits at a lower elevation and is easily accessible. A beautiful waterfall is visible during the spring and summer months.

  5. Stargazing - the sky is dark and the Milky Way is visible from this open, beautiful park. There are Dark Sky Festivals during the summer.

Have you ever been to Lassen Volcanic National Park?

Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography
Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography
Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography
Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography
Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography
Lassen Volcanic National Park | Travel (127/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Lassen National Forest | Travel (126/556)

Lassen National Forest | Travel (126/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Smoke filled the air from nearby wildfires as I drove through Lassen National Forest. California was dry and burning in many areas during this road trip. Unfortunately, I have asthma, limiting my hiking in the smokiest stops (including this one).

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Dow Butte Lookout - formerly a fire lookout, this area is now open to the public.
  2. Hat Creek Rim Overlook - this overlook offers beautiful views of the Hat Creek Valley. There's also easy access to the Pacific Crest Trail.
  3. Heart Lake Trail - this three mile hike rewards you with a mountain lake, after hiking along South Digger Creek.
  4. Spencer Meadow - a six mile trail providing access to Spencer Meadow. Also a National Recreation Trail.
  5. Subway Cave - this lava tube allows for underground exploring on a short, 1/3 mile long trail.

What are your favorite hikes and places to explore in Lassen National Forest?

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area | Travel (125/556)

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area | Travel (125/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) After days of driving through extremely dry conditions, entering Whiskeytown National Recreation Area offered the water-filled views I had been craving. By no means was the area void of drought conditions. The park simply offered a glimpse into a more wet and lush environment.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area | Travel (125/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Brandy Creek Falls Trail - this moderate 3 mile hike takes you to the cascading Brandy Creek Falls.
  2. James K. Carr Trail - a 3.4 mile hike to Whiskeytown Falls, a 220 foot waterfall.
  3. Kanaka Peak Trail - a more difficult 7 mile hike to Kanaka Peak.
  4. Salt Creek Loop Trail - a short and easy 1.8 mile hike along an old mining wagon road.
  5. Whiskeytown Lake - enjoy 36 miles of shoreline and ample water activities.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area!

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area | Travel (125/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Shasta-Trinity National Forest | Travel (123 and 124/556)

Shasta-Trinity National Forest | Travel (123 and 124/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Another wildfire smoke filled visit, while making my way through Shasta-Trinity National Forest. For weeks, I was certain half of my trip would need to be re-routed due to wildfires. Somehow, someway, I managed to get awfully close to the fires while still keeping on course with all my national forest and national park destinations.

That said, my entire time in California left me craving a winter or early spring visit, when conditions are a little less dry and the forests feel a bit more alive with fresh air.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest | Travel (123 and 124/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. McCloud Waterfall Trail - a 3.5 mile easy hike to three lovely waterfalls. And wildflowers, if they're in season.
  2. Mount Shasta Trail - this 10.6 mile trail takes you on a difficult, technical hike/climb/scramble to the summit of Mount Shasta.
  3. Mt. Shasta Wilderness - a wilderness area with a snow capped, dormant volcano standing over 14,000 feet.
  4. Post Creek Lookout - this rustic cabin sits on a ridgeline above Beegum Gorge and is available to rent. Tucked away in the forest, you're certain to have a relaxing adventure!
  5. Trinity Scenic Byway - this scenic drive follows Highway 299 from Shasta to Blue Lake. Known as the route from the Valley Oaks to the Redwood Coast.

What are you favorite hikes and places to explore in Shasta-Trinity National Forest?

Shasta-Trinity National Forest | Travel (123 and 124/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Shasta-Trinity National Forest | Travel (123 and 124/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Six Rivers National Forest | Travel (122/556)

Six Rivers National Forest | Travel (122/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Wildfire season was in full force during my visit to Six Rivers National Forest in California. Smoke was in the air, distant views were hazy and the wildflowers were bright and beautiful.

Six Rivers National Forest | Travel (122/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Bull Creek Flats Trail - a 7.6 mile moderate hike. Enjoy a relatively flat, long stroll through giant trees with frequent visits from wildlife.
  2. Founders Grove Nature Trail - an easy hike, a little over half a mile, through an old growth redwood forest.
  3. High Dome Trail - a four mile moderate trail to the overlook on High Dome Mountain. Enjoy views of surrounding mountains and the ocean.
  4. Marble Mountain Wilderness - aside from having a fantastic name, this wilderness area is known for having rugged terrain with high elevation lakes and streams.
  5. Smith River National Recreation Area - filled with stunning mountains, river canyons, unique rock formations, wildflowers and ample opportunity for hiking and exploring.

What are some of your favorite hikes and places to explore in Six Rivers National Forest?

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556)

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Redwood National Park, and state parks in California, is one of the most magical places I have ever been. The early morning fog, overwhelming silence and trees beyond belief all add to the surreal feelings experienced while hiking and driving through the park.

A raven flew by at one point. It's wings flapping against the thick air was heard long before he appeared into sight and long after he vanished into the mist.

Goosebumps and peace were felt over and over again while exploring.

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Avenue of the Giants - a scenic 32 mile drive through the heart of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
  2. Fern Canyon - enjoy being surrounded by ferns on all sides of the canyon walls. This canyon was a filming location in the recent Jurassic Park movie.
  3. Howland Hill Road - drive through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for close views of redwood trees.
  4. Prairie Creek - enjoy a hiking trail by some of the larges redwood trees.
  5. Requa Road - overlooks the mouth of the Klamath River where whales are sometimes visible from above.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore in Redwood National Park!

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Siuslaw National Forest | Travel (120/556)

Siuslaw National Forest | Travel (120/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Stopping at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, in Siuslaw National Forest, was an unplanned brown sign spotting stop. It's not uncommon for me to see an unexpected park sign and immediately detour off my planned route. Makes road trips even more fun!

Siuslaw National Forest | Travel (120/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area - enjoy endless fog rolling through the jagged shoreline.
  2. Drift Creek Wilderness - features the Coast Range's largest rain forest of old growth. A true paradise if you love ferns and moss.
  3. Marys Peak Scenic Botanical Area - I struggle to resist botanical areas and gardens. The national forest is working to restore historic views and meadows.
  4. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - be blown away by over 40 miles of wind sculpted sand dunes.
  5. Sand Lake Recreation Area -located along the North Coast, you'll find sand flats and stunning ocean beaches.

What are some of your favorite spots in Siuslaw National Forest?

Mount Hood National Forest | Travel (119/556)

Mount Hood National Forest | Travel (119/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Mount Hood National Forest, in Oregon, greeted me with tall pines, cool temperatures and a foggy mist. I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

Mount Hood National Forest | Travel (119/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Clackamas Wild and Scenic River - deep in a gorge, surrounded by rocky cliffs.
  2. Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort - claimed to be one of the best locations in the Northwest for skiing and snowboarding.
  3. Timberland Lodge - a National Historic Landmark, handcrafted in the 1930's and now open to the public as a ski resort with hotel and restaurant.
  4. Timberline National Historic Trail - a 36.6 mile, near loop trail, inside the Mount Hood Wilderness.
  5. Timothy Lake Recreation Area - The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the eastern side of Timothy Lake.

What are some of your favorite places and hikes in Mount Hood National Forest?

Boise National Forest | Travel (118/556)

Boise National Forest | Travel (118/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Boise National Forest was my final stop during an extended national forest loop in Idaho. I drove through lush forests, saw the tallest snow measuring sticks in my life and encountered areas devastated by wildfires. A diverse and beautiful experience.

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Payette River - beautiful beaches and serious rapids are available in the South Fork and Main Payette River.
  2. Pine Flats Hot Springs - a short quarter mile trail from the Pine Flats Campground takes you to natural springs.
  3. Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway - a 131 mile drive through forest packed landscapes and stunning river views. Commonly closed during winter due to avalanche conditions.
  4. Shafer Butte - a beautiful mountain getaway from the desert below.
  5. Trinity Mountain Recreation Area - the highest point in Idaho, accessible by car, featuring lakes, campgrounds and rustic cabins.

What are your favorite places and hikes in Boise National Forest?

Challis National Forest | Travel (117/556)

Challis National Forest | Travel (117/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Challis National Forest is where I hit most of the snow during my Idaho national forest loop. Would love to get back for a warmer fall day, with fewer snow flurries!

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Franck Church River of No Return Wilderness - quite the name! Filled with rugged mountains, canyons and whitewater rivers.
  2. Little Bayhorse Trail - a quick one mile hike around Little Bayhorse Lake.
  3. Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway - over 140 miles through diverse Idaho landscape, including mountain peaks, lava flows and ghost towns.
  4. Upper Vanity Lakes - a moderate 2.1 mile trail, out and back, to four small lakes in the Frank Church Wilderness.
  5. West Fork Lakes Trail - a 1.4 mile hike to West Fork Lakes.

What are your favorite places in Challis National Forest?

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556)

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography It was early September and snow began to fall as I drove into Sun Valley, Idaho. With a long detour through three national forests ahead, popping into a Ranger Station for weather information was my first stop in Sawtooth National Forest.

The Park Ranger kindly confirmed I would see snow during most of my drive, but would be at a low enough elevation to not worry about messy roads.

Perfect news! The sky and clouds were dramatic and changing quickly during my entire time in Sawtooth National Forest. Beyond excited to head back for more exploring.

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Eagle Loop - a short, easy 2.5 mile loop trail.
  2. Galena Overlook - after driving through some serious switchbacks, stop and take in this stunning view.
  3. Redfish Lake - named after the once abundant sockeye salmon run, this lake is ideal for enjoying the beach, surrounding views and water activities.
  4. Sawtooth Scenic Byway - a must drive on my list! 116 miles total, with canyon, mountain, river and lava deposit goodness along the way.
  5. Sawtooth Wilderness Area - with 50 jagged peaks over 10,000 feet tall, there's plenty of exploring to be had here.

What are some of your favorite areas of Sawtooth National Forest?

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556)

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography My first visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve was quite a few years back, in my early twenties. Seems like a lifetime ago!

This unique, stunning park is well worth a visit. I truly hope to make it back during winter, maybe with a little snow on the ground adding even more contrast to the landscape.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Cave Area - grab a permit and explore one (or all) of the five caves.
  2. Inferno Cone - a STEEP half mile trail (each way) to the top of the Inferno Cone. My favorite in the park!
  3. North Crater Flow Trail - less than half a mile, this trail takes you onto the North Crater Flow area.
  4. North Crater Trail - a 3.5 mile trail (one way), taking you over North Crater, into the crater mouth and onto Big Craters and Spatter Cones.
  5. Tree Molds Trail - a two mile trail with unique views of tree imprints in the now hard lava rock.

Tell me all about your favorite spots in the park, in the comments below!

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve | Travel (114 and 115/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556)

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Finding myself above the tree line, enjoying near and distant waterfalls, unexpected rainbows and bears scurrying across the road all made Caribou-Targhee National Forest a memorable stop on my around the country road trip. An absolutely fantastic place.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Grand Targhee Ski Area - all the expected snow activities during winter, with festivals, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding during warmer months. Plus amazing views of Grand Teton.
  2. Lower Mesa Falls - a more distant view of the waterfall, from above the tree line.
  3. Minnetonka Cave - nine rooms over the course of a half mile. The cave is open during summer months.
  4. Teton Scenic Byway - 69 mile scenic drive, with the Teton Mountain Range in clear view.
  5. Upper Mesa Falls - enjoy an easy boardwalk trail located at the top of the waterfall.

Tell me all about your favorites in Caribou-Targhee National Forest!

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556)

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography My apologies for falling off the travel blog post wagon. Life has been a bit hectic the last few weeks since arriving home. Happily settling back into normalcy :)

Grand Teton National Park is an area I am happy to explore again and again. My third visit was spectacular, filled with stunning light, bears popping up everywhere, elk crossing the Snake River, dramatic clouds, cool temperatures and endless landscape goodness.

My top list of places to explore remains the same. Stop by my first blog post for more details.

Here are my recent favorite captures from this beautiful corner of Wyoming.

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography