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Check Out the August #conservationlands15 “Top 15″:  15 Amazing Urban Escapes on BLM’s National Conservation Lands! Close to Home, but A World Away.

1. Alaska, Steese National Conservation Area, Pinell Mountain Trail. Just over 2 hours from Fairbanks, this northernmost of U. S. National Recreation Trails traverses 27 miles of rolling tundra offering day hiking and backpack opportunities.  Come for the summer solstice to view the midnight sun.

2. Arizona, Hells Canyon Wilderness, Spring Valley Trail. A short 25 mile drive from Phoenix, this trail’s relatively gentle grades is great for the whole family. In addition to an array of Sonoran Desert wildlife, the resident burros may be seen along the trail.

3. California, California Coastal National Monument, Point Arena-Stornetta Unit. A 2-½ hour scenic drive from San Francisco through California’s wine country  enables San Francisco residents to escape the city for the small hamlet of Point Arena and its spectacular coastal headlands.  

4. California, North Fork American Wild and Scenic River. Follow the 49’rs and pan for gold in this crystal clear stream just an hour from Sacramento. 

5. Colorado, Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area.  Just an hour from Colorado Springs and 2 hours from Denver, Beaver Creek offers miles of trail as well as fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. Its lower elevation allows for an extended hiking season in comparison to Colorado’s high-country.

6. Florida, Jupiter Inlet Outstanding Natural Area. Less than 2 hours from Miami and even closer to Fort Lauderdale lies this historic lighthouse and surrounding restored coastal habitats.  Take a gentle walk along a trail and boardwalk to learn about the site’s important role in World War II.  

7. Idaho, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Just south of Boise, this bird-watching mecca is close enough for an after work trip and boasts one of the highest concentration of raptors in the world.

8. Virginia, Potomic Heritage National Scenic Trail. Just over 20 miles from the U. S. Capitol, the Meadowood Recreation Area provides a segment of the trail in a pastoral setting.

9. Montana, Pompey’s Pillar National Monument. Drive a short ½ hour from Billings to learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the interpretive center then have a picnic along the cottonwood lined banks of the Yellowstone River.

10. Nevada, Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. The entrance to Sloan Canyon, one of the most significant cultural resources in Southern Nevada, is almost within sight of the Las Vegas Strip. The area contains a concentration of over 300 petroglyphs.

11. New Mexico, Tent Rocks National Monument. Just an hour from Albuquerque and Santa Fe is an area of magical rock formations that seem to defy gravity. Hike through the unique array of hoodoos and a narrow slot canyon, and then enjoy a picnic under the pinyons. 

12. Oregon, Deschutes Wild and Scenic River. Two hours from Portland, the Deschutes is Central Oregon’s playground. Visitors can fish for steelhead and salmon or raft the exciting whitewater.

13. Utah, Cedar Mountain Wilderness. This vast 100,000 acre area is only an hour west of Salt Lake City.  It is a true wilderness experience with no formal trails.  Hardy-well prepared visitors will be rewarded with solitude and expansive vistas of the Great Basin.

14. Washington, San Juan Islands National Monument. Take a ferry from Seattle and escape to this archipelago of fir clad islands.  The National Monument includes several lighthouses, hiking trails and sea kayak campsites. 

15. Wyoming, National Historic Trails Visitor Center. Located right in Casper, Wyoming off of highway I-25. The Trails Center offers extensive interpretive materials and programs describing the emigrant trails that led to settling of the west.

Join us next month for the September #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover and our Top 15 - Wilderness Adventures on National Conservation Lands.