Originally home to native tribes, these massive woods soon became an economic engine for the early European explorers of the region. The wealth coming first from furs then from logging and eventually from gold rush brought more and more settlers of European-descent into the region, pushing out the native inhabitants and bringing in modern industry. By the time the various booms and busts of these industries had run their course, the region had become a popular summer resort area. Those who spent their summers here soon found the need to preserve the natural beauty they enjoyed. Sometimes called the heart of the continent, this region of the North Woods stretches up into Canada. It is the only national park in Minnesota: Voyageurs.
While hiking is the activity associated with the bulk of the national parks, most believe that Voyageurs is best seen from the water. Rivers, lakes and islands can be explored via canoes, kayaks and motorboats with some interior areas of the park only accessible by boat - that is unless the water is frozen over in the winter. The majority of the hiking trails in the park are located in this area only accessible by water. Tours through the park bring to life not only the history of the North Woods region but Minnesota itself. Voyageurs National Park truly fits in with the state’s legacy as being the land of 10,000 lakes.
Efforts to create a national park here were a long time coming. Residents expressed a desire to preserve the area nearly 125 years ago, but conflicts between those with vested interests in the park’s resources as well as infighting in the government would take up more than 25 years before a national park was officially located here. Oddly enough, the park only draws 12 percent of the visitors attracted to the nearby Ross Lake National recreation Area and just over half of the amount of visitors who stop by the adjoining Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. All three areas are managed by the park. Today, North Cascades remains an undiscovered gem of Washington’s wilderness.
From a valley that reshapes its trees into strange formations to a desert where rocks seem to magically move to some of the strangest colored waters in the world to the giant remnants of lost ancient civilizations, North America is home to some unique sites. In addition to those man-made wonders, the varied landscape of this region ranges from the wintry, dense forests of Canada to the diverse ecosystems of the U.S. to the Mexican desert, coastal Caribbean islands and dense jungle of Central America help make it an awe-inspiring place to visit.
Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
Rediscovered in 1989, the cave is located within Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve and in order to get a look inside, visitors must swim in and then wade through water for nearly three-fourths of a mile. Once inside, visitors can see remnants left behind by the ancient Maya, who researchers believed used this cave either as a burial ground of a place for sacrificial victims. Several skeletal remains have been discovered - and permanently left - in the cave that are believed to be thousands of years old. Of the 14 bodies discovered, the most famous is the Crystal Maiden.
Dedicated to all things travel, places I have been and places I want to go.