The most populous state in New England and home to the region’s most populous city, it is hard to believe that Massachusetts was once an uncharted wilderness. A pivotal location for major events in American history, Massachusetts has always been known for its influence from the abolition and temperance movements to more damaging events like the Salem witch trials. While much of this state’s history is well-known, there are some things you won’t find in textbooks.
Strange stones began appearing near a former town site on Cape Ann. Not far from where the pilgrims landed also lie the remnants of one of the first settlements established by free African-Americans in the country. Under the waves of several local lakes lie the remnants of dozens of once prominent communities. The disappearance former fishing village and military outpost on Cape Cod has been blamed on everything from sharks to hurricane to to a lack of fresh water. Villages established by Native American converts to Christianity played an important role in the early days of the state, yet this tribe is nearly forgotten. Some of the best secrets Massachusetts has can be found in its forgotten places.
Originally preserved due in part to its extensive underground cave network, the park today contains the Basin and Range Province of the much larger Great Basin itself. Located less than 15 miles from the Nevada-Utah state line, this national park is located off the beaten path, surrounded by small unincorporated communities and ghost towns. Its nearly 300 miles to Las Vegas in the south or 230 to Salt Lake City in the northeast. However, those who venture out will have a chance to see an untouched segment of America, a place of rock arches, underground caverns, canyons, mountains, lakes, pine forests and mountain meadows.
Once home to one of the most intricate trading networks in prehistoric Alaska, the area that now contains the national park has become home to Russian explorers and traders, American researchers and soldiers, prospectors, merchants, and now national park rangers. Shaped by glaciers and volcanoes, the park was once home to the largest copper lode in the country. It was the explotation of minerals and oils that made conservationists realize the importance of preserving the natural beauty of this ancient land. Today, the park protects everything from formations millions of years old to historic structures constructed in the past century. The story of Wrangell-St. Elias is, in many ways, the story of Alaska itself.
The Dena’ina and Yup’ik peoples still live in and around the park, practicing subsistence the same way native inhabitants of the park have for nearly 10,000 years. Later a refuge for those seeking to live a solitary life among nature, the park today faces threats from mining operations nearby continue to show the importance of preserving this unique natural landscape. In addition to being the seventh largest national park in the United States, Lake Clark is considered one of the least visited. Despite this, the park is the year-round home to two cities and hundreds of residents.
One of the least visited national parks in the country, Kobuk Valley has no roads leading into it, requiring visitors to fly in via air taxi from local cities like Nome. Still, there are numerous ways to see the park once inside ranging from boating to hiking to dog sledding. The iconic dunes for which the park is known are what draw most visitors, ranging from tourists to researchers. NASA is even working to do research here as preparation for Mars exploration. However, Kobuk is much more than its dunes. Rivers have long proven a great way to navigate this area and create beautiful shapes from above. Ancient peoples and their modern descendants are connected here through historical sites, archaeological discoveries and subsistence living. Stargazers come out for a glimpse of the northern lights here. Kobuk Valley National Park may just change any preconceived notions about Alaska.
Dedicated to all things travel, places I have been and places I want to go.