7. Devil’s Churn, Oregon
Beginning as a deep, underwater cave, Devil’s Churn has spent thousands of years developing into the magnificent example of wave action that we can see when visiting today. Eventually, the ceiling of the cave collapsed, and the waves continued to eat into the rocky shoreline until the inlet, known today as Devil’s Churn was formed.
Devil’s Churn can be found in the Siuslaw National Forest along the edge of Cape Perpetua, which is a pine-laden peninsula extending into the Pacific Ocean.
To get there follow US 101. As a matter of fact, there is a scenic overlook on 101.
It is so worth taking the trail down to get a better look. As the tide comes in, the waves become more frequent and more fierce. The collisions between waves and backwash cause plumes of spray to rise above you. Wear a raincoat and be careful!
Closest City: Yachats, OR
6. Gaudineer Scenic Area, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
The Gaudineer Scenic Area has been considered a National Natural Landmark since 1974. Why is it so special? Over the course of our history, the area around GSA was clear cut, but the scenic area itself escaped this fate. It is now considered a rare virgin red spruce forest, with some trees as old as 300 years.
The area is also rife with endangered species. Once you reach GSA, take the trail through the forest so that you can gain the full experience of its beauty. Turn off the cell phone or leave it in the car and listen to the sounds of the primeval forest around you as you softly walk along. Smell the spicy scent of spruce. You may see a red squirrel or a Swainson’s wood thrush, if you go in the early morning. Commune with nature, clear your head.
Closest City: Durbin, WV
5. Oglala National Grasslands, Nebraska
“You can’t see the forest for the trees?” Well maybe you should visit the Oglala National Grasslands located in the northwestern corner of Nebraska. If you go, you will find 95,000 acres of mixed native grasses and badlands, each with its own unique beauty.
In Toadstool Geologic Park you will find wonderful sedimentary rock formations, each eroded to display beautiful mineral striations in shades of jade, teal and rust. The grasslands are also home to an impressive archaeological dig, the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill. The bone bed was exposed in the 1950’s and is estimated to be 10,000 years old.
Researchers are studying the remains of about 600 bisons which were members of a transitional species, sandwiched between ancient bison and modern bison. As you stand in the nearby grassland, you might almost expect to see the herd travel by.
Closest City – Crawford, Nebraska
4. Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
Mt. Mansfield stands guard over the northern quarter of Vermont. What an impressive sentinel, with its head above the surrounding mountains. Mt Mansfield dates to the Ice Ages and some of the alpine tundra from that time is visible as you ascend to the summit.
You can drive up on the auto road or hike up. The view from the mountain is as varied as the leaves on a tree. Spring releases a green verdancy, soft as a kitten’s fur, bright with renewed life. In summer, you notice the lovely cool teals and aquas of the distant hills and the rich greens of nearby forests.
The queen of seasons is festive and working her magic. Autumn brings a last gasp of vibrancy with its orange, yellow and red hues that fade quietly to russet. And winter, purple mountains sharp against the snow. Still majestic, just waiting for spring. Speaking of winter, one side of Mt. Mansfield is comprised of the Stowe Mountain Resort, a world class ski area.
Closest City: Stowe, VT