Go to the Green

Check out these 11 naturally beautiful destinations & enjoy a piece of paradise

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Hayden Valley, Yellowstone

When you take a Wildlife Watching Tour through Hayden Valley, make sure to keep your camera handy because you'll never know what you might see: bison, elk, coyote, and maybe even a grizzly bear. Get a jump on the beautiful morning sunshine on a hike to an overlook with a view of the valley and keep and eye out for the many birds who call the Yellowstone River area home.

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Yavapai Point, Grand Canyon

Yavapai Point is one of the things that puts the "grand" in the Grand Canyon. Toss in some magnificent views of the inner canyon, as well as the Colorado River and Bright Angel Canyon, and let your family can decide if it wants to take the 1.5 mile-journey down to the bottom, or just relish the view from the top.

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Papago Park, Phoenix

Taking a trip to Papago Park is all about adventure. Some of Phoenix's best hiking trails and bike paths give you and your kids a way to experience the great outdoors in an unspoiled stretch of Arizona desert. Those who enjoy a nice walk — and a beautiful vantage point — will love taking the 825-foot trail up to Hole-in-the-Rock, which offers views from about 100 feet up.

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Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

In 1969, Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark. When your family comes to Lake Tahoe, you can decide which one is more jaw-dropping: the panorama of mountains or the sparkling blue lake. Either way, it is easy to see why thousands choose to spend their summers here every year.

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Otherworldly rock formations, startling colors, one of the richest fossil beds known to exist, grazing bison and a madcap prairie dog village all jumble together into a fascinating landscape for adults and kids alike at the Badlands National Park in the Black Hills of Dakota.

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Diamond Head, Oahu

What does the world look like from the top of a volcanic crater? Find out with a visit to Diamond Head. You can see Oahu's geological wonder from Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, but it is a very different experience when your family returns to the beach after making the trek and can say: "Hey... we hiked that!"

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Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Most people have no idea that just 17 miles west of the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip is the peaceful world of Red Rock Canyon. Hike trails that are perfect for even the youngest members of your family, or challenge teens to some of the rockier ones. Just keep an eye out for the wild burros who are known to roam the area, you can bet they'll make your visit even more memorable.

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Mariposa Grove, Yosemite

Author and environmentalist John Muir once said of Yosemite: "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike." So why not take your family on a body strengthening walk among nature's 200-foot giants — the sequoias of Mariposa Grove. Introduce them to some park's most famous rooted residents: the Wawona and California Tunnel Trees, Faithful Couple, the Clothespin, and the 2,700-year old Grizzly Giant.

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Everglades National Park, Miami

A River of Grass? It could only happen in Everglades National Park, where you'll feel like you're a world away from the hustle and bustle of Miami (even though it's only about 50 miles). Older kids can rent bicycles for the 15-mile loop around the park, while strollers are more than welcome on the half-mile Anhinga Trail. And you can make friends (or not) with all the wildlife — including the wading birds, turtles, rabbits, snakes and alligators — that call the Everglades home.

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Iao State Park, Maui

You never know what you'll find deep in the heart of the Hawaiian rainforest. On a visit to Iao Valley State Park, you'll find Iao Needle, which rises 1,200 feet into the skies above Maui. Explore the plant life on the marked path, learn the about myths and legends at the vistor's center or just enjoy a swim in the nearby shallow lagoon. All are memorable ways to say "aloha" to the Valley Isle.

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Aspen Mountains, Colorado

There's nothing like taking a walk in the clouds. When the temperatures drop, head to the beautiful snow covered mountains of Aspen. The town itself was formed as part of a silver boom in the late 1800s, but when your children are on the mountain, possibly in the Powder Pandas program during the winter, you'll feel very rich indeed to have such a magnificent example of nature's magic.

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