Roosevelt Island

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Roosevelt Island

A gem of New York City. Roosevelt Island is a narrow island located in the East River. The Island is considered to be  apart of the borough of Manhattan. Manhattan sits to the west of the island and the borough of Queens sits to the east. Once known as Blackwells island, and also welfare island. The island was home to prisons, hospitals and asylums. The island was renamed in 1971 after Franklin D Roosevelt.

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What to see and do

Roosevelt Island tram

Take the aerial tram at least one when visiting Roosevelt Island. The views are amazing, providing a unique skyline view of the city. The tram runs from 59th street and second avenue in Manhattan to Tramway plaza on Roosevelt plaza. The tram ride definitely offers an exciting aerial view of the city. A must see for anyone visiting New York City.

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Four Freedom Park

This beautiful four acre park is a memorial, dedicated to President Franklin D Roosevelt. The park celebrates the Four Freedoms he articulated in his 1941 state of the union address. The park is located at the southern tip of the island, and I would recommend this to be the number one sight that you must see on Roosevelt Island. The landscape is stunning and the views of Manhattan and Queens are gorgeous.  If you love sunsets, I would suggest viewing one during the winter the months, they are absolutely breathtaking.

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The smallpox hospital

A very unique sight to see in New York City. The hospital is a historic landmark structure. The hospital was built in 1854 and was the first major hospital in the United States dedicated to treat the victims of smallpox. It is an interesting sight to see and represents an era of old New York life. It is great to see at different times of the year. The fall foliage is gorgeous, the winter adds more of an eerie vibe and it is  very pretty during the warmer months, with the greenery covering the hospital.

Small pox in the fall

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Cornell tech

An impressive engineering campus, with  an innovative design and beautiful grounds. Exploring this area is a change of scenery from the rest of the island, as it represents modern growth.

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Blackwell Island light house

The majority of the sights to see on the island, are located in the southern region. However, a visit to the northeast tip is well worth the walk (or bus ride) to view the pretty stone lighthouse, which was built in 1872.

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From stunning aerial views, escaping the chaos of midtown,  relaxing with  the breeze of the east river and exploring historic sights Roosevelt Island is a top place to visit when exploring New York City.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains

One of my major loves of the USA is the National Parks system. As a nature lover, and with a background in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, I am in awe of all of the National Parks that I have had the chance to visit, and the system that protects them. On our drive to the south, I had to make sure that we did not miss the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited US National Park. I do hold the National Parks pass, however the Smoky Mountains don’t require an entrance fee, one of the few parks that don’t! The Smoky Mountains is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a division of the larger Appalachian chain. These Mountains border between North Carolina and Tennessee and is one of the largest protected areas in eastern US. They are also acknowledged as an UNESCO world heritage site, very impressive. With its beauty and diverse range of plant and animal life, it is no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains is a popular place to visit and explore.

As we visited during winter, parts of the park was closed, I would love to go back during the spring and/or summer to explore more of this gorgeous place.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon

The natural beauty of Bryce Canyon National park is incredible. The views from above and from within are truly breathtaking. The major attraction is the spectacular crimson colored hoodoos, pillars of rock created by erosion. Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, attracting nearly two million visitors annually. Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, in Utah’s canyon country. A four-hour drive from the famous Las Vegas, Nevada and two hours from the beautiful Zion National Park 

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Hoodoos

The main attraction is of course, the gorgeous collection of hoodoos. The best place to view the hoodoos are from the Bryce amphitheater, which has the largest collection of viewpoints.  With four main viewpoints (Bryce point, inspiration point, sunset point and sunrise point) and access to numerous hiking trails, this is the perfect area to start a journey exploring Bryce Canyon.  

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Hiking opportunities

Bryce Canyon has a range of hiking trails from easy to strenuous. As an introduction to Bryce canyon, I would recommend beginning with the Rim trail hike, here you will be hiking the rim of Bryce amphitheater, viewing the gorgeous hoodoos from above, walking between sunrise and sunset point. Rim trail is classified as easy. Please note that the rim trail is not a loop, so the hike can range from 1 to 8 hours, depending on when you turn back around!

A step up from the Rim trail hike, would be the Queens/Navajo combination loop, this is classified as moderate and is also regarded as the most popular hiking trail. Highlights will include viewing Thor’s hammer and the two bridges. If you are looking for more strenuous hikes, I would recommend the Peekaboo loop, here you will hike through the heart of the park, with stunning views of the hoodoos and also viewing the wall of windows. Fairytale loop is another great strenuous hike, providing you with a chance to see the Chinese wall, tower bridge and tall hoodoos. Away from the Bryce amphitheater at the northern end of the park is Mossy cave, an easy hike away from the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon hiking

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Highway 63

A breathtaking scenic drive through the park. Provides a great opportunity to view some of the major overlooks, with 13 viewpoints along this 38 mile round trip. Highlights include the natural bridge,  Rainbow and Yovimpa points. If you only had one day to explore Bryce canyon, I would recommend completing this loop and stopping off at the major viewpoints.

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Mossy Cave

If you have more than a day I would recommend a visit to Mossy cave. A hidden gem at the northern end of the park. provides an opportunity to get up close with the hoodoos without descending.  It is an easy hike along a stream side to view this pretty cave. Depending on the time of year you may also see a waterfall or icicles in the cave! A peaceful hike without the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon is a truly remarkable place. The scenery is stunning and the opportunities for hiking and photography are endless. A true nature lovers playground! Photos don’t do justice, you really need to explore Bryce Canyon in person to surround yourself in this natural beauty. A unique, and breathtaking landscape. One of my favorite national parks that I have visited so far.

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Grand Canyon National Park

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