Secret Travel Destinations
Think all travel destinations are packed full of tourists?
Think again. Some of them are not even on the map. I've been
interested in these "secret" places since I first discovered
two little lakes high in the hills and cliffs north of Ishpeming,
Michigan. There were no trails to them, and there was a trout
on the line ten seconds after the worm hit the water.
There are other travel destinations which are not so isolated,
but are still generally overlooked by most tourists. Yelapa,
Mexico was like that when I went there in 1981. It had uncrowded
beaches, and you could buy fresh fish for dinner from the fishermen
in the afternoon. A palapa (thatched-roof house) rented for about
$100 per month. Waterfalls in the surrounding jungle fell into
perfect swimming holes. No were no roads at that time, but there
was a daily boat from nearby Puerto Vallarta.
Unfortunately, Yelapa has since been discovered and overrun
with tourists. Being one myself at times, I have nothing against
tourists, but when the crowd gets too thick I prefer the more
secret places. With that in mind, here a couple examples of travel
destinations that are still undiscovered.
Storm Lake, Montana
The town of Anaconda, Montana is a fun destination by itself.
Rent a room above the Harp and Thistle Pub for $140 for the week
(as of August 2007) and you'll be within walking distance of
at least ten casinos with nickel slot machines. You'll be three
blocks from the new brew pub and restaurant, Rocky Mountain Brewing.
The Washoe Theater, two blocks away, is considered one of the
most beautiful in the country by the Smithsonian Institute. It
costs just $4 for a movie, and 90 cents for a small popcorn.
The Old Works Golf Course, designed by Jack Nicholas, is just
at the edge of this small town.
To really escape, though, drive 14 miles west on Highway 1.
At the sign that says "Storm Lake," turn right. Stay
left when the road splits. It's nine miles to the lake, but you
may need high clearance for the last mile (although we used to
make it there in our Ford Escort). There may be a few locals
at the lake, but you'll always find a place to park.
The lake is nestled in the mountains at 8,000 feet, and is
known locally for its cutthroat trout fishing. The hiking trail
along the right side will take you past the lake to the Anaconda-Pintler
Wilderness Area. An hour further and you'll reach Storm Lake
Pass, at the tree line. You can continue into the tundra environment
of Goat Meadows, or into a seemingly endless wilderness of mountains
and lakes, and you'll rarely have any company other than the
bears and birds and mountain goats.
Alamogordo, New Mexico
This isn't at the top of most tourists lists, which is good
for those of us that like our travel destinations to be uncrowded.
Alomogordo is a great little town, however, and a great base
from which to explore the surrounding area. Since it rarely snows
or gets too cold here, it is also a nice place to escape the
Check out the little zoo right in town for a relaxing afternoon.
The Imax Theater on the north side of town (watch for the signs)
rarely has long lines to wait in. Saturdays from June to October
you can visit the Farmers market at the county fairgrounds.
To get up above and out of the desert, drive the thirty minutes
or so up to Cloudcroft in the nearby mountains, or go a little
further the observatory at Sunspot, or to the Casino in Ruidoso.
Time it right, and you can bask in the sun one day in Alamogordo
and be skiing the next day at the Cloudcroft Ski Area.
Want an unusual vacation destination? Visit the Trinity Test
Site, about an hour north of Alomogordo, where the first nuclear
bomb was exploded. It's down possible confusing dirt roads, and
it is only open a day or two each year, so you'll have to do
your homework for this one. West of town is the White Sands National
Monument, with its truly amazing white sand dunes.
Finding Other Secret Travel Destinations
In our hometown of Canon City, Colorado, there is an area
(Red Canyon Park) just ten miles out of town that has fantastic
red rock formations like those in the more famous Garden of the
Gods park in Colorado Springs. What's the difference? No crowds,
and you can climb on the rocks all you want. You can also explore
slot canyons and pick wild plums. How do you discover hidden
travel destinations like this one? Try talking to the locals
when you are traveling.
10 Cheap Vacations