This is the second part to a series of posts on US Natural Wonders.
America is an incredibly beautiful country. There are so many unique landscapes and natural wonders to explore and enjoy with a wide range of activities. Last post we mentioned 3 of our favorite US Canyons, here are a few of our favorite water wonders that we had the pleasure of spending time with. I only wish we could have seen more.
St Andrews State Park, Florida
This was a delightful little find at the end of the Panama City strip.
When we first arrived in Panama City, the over development and continued building of high rises made us not very keen to remain. We decided to escape the well known Spring Break town to camp in St Andrew’s State Park. It turned out to be my favorite beaches in the US.
Being a state park, its sand dunes were intact as was the surrounding forest where we camped. We were a short walk down to the white sanded cove where pods of bottle-nosed dolphins were to be seen constantly jumping up and down and swimming close to shore. No matter how hard I tried, I could never swim out far enough to play with them.
Instead, I was able to swim in the crystal clear waters with sting rays, huge fish, and at one stage what suspiciously looked like the shadow of a reef shark go scuttling by. A boat tour to nearby uninhabited Shell island is a great day trip for snorkelling, shell or sand dollar collecting, or simply relaxing.
Gauley River, West Virginia
Located in West Virgina, the 25 mile long Gauley River runs through the Appalachian Mountains. During the fall, thousands of thrill seekers flock to the Gauley to raft its wild grade 3-5 rapids, considered one of the best white water rafting rivers in the US.
The Gauley River is divided into the Upper and the Lower run, the lower being the tamer of the two. If you’re game enough to try the Upper Gauley you will be maneuvering through rapids such as Lost Paddle, Shipwreck and Sweet Falls.
I usually like to get flipped out of the boat when I raft, but not this time – the fall mountain water was way too icy. Our guide didn’t like to play like that anyway, and was intent on keeping all crew members inside the raft.
She flipped out at us when two crew members fell over board, a stranger and our friend James. James’ exit was so hilarious that none of us had the strength to paddle to rescue them. They both had head above water and seemed to be fine, so we didn’t pay the screams from our guide to paddle too much attention. After she let rip quite a few swear words we picked up our paddles and rescued our friends. It was only then that told us the stranger suffered from muscular dystrophy!
Geez! Could have warned us before we started rafting. Lucky he was fine and had a great time. There were no rapids that could even compare with what we experienced on the Nile River, but it was still a lot of fun and the riverside golden mountain scenery was really beautiful.
The Colorado River
In our previous best Canyons of America post, I spoke of the awe and love I have for the Colorado River.
It is my favorite river, as I have been a witness to the incredible beauty it has carved out in its wake. We were able to see the Colorado River’s humble beginnings in the Rocky Mountains and followed it down until it reached the Grand Canyon, where we left it to continue its journey south while we ventured west.
To see it widen and grown in volume and power was incredible. We had a wonderful day bike riding in Glenwood Springs alongside the river and apart from that the only other contact was from watching it in admiration from afar. One of my ultimate travel goals is to white water raft the river through the Grand Canyon.