What are the most romantic places in the world? Paris? Hawaii? Italy?
If traveling through the continental United States, try a national park.
Though national parks often are thought of as places to get back to nature, they’re also great spots to get a little closer to your sweetie. Among the romantic possibilities are moonbows, romantic vistas, desert oasis and incredible sunrises, just to name a few.
Moonbow over waterfalls
At night during a full moon, moonbows often can be seen over waterfalls as the silvery light from the nearest heavenly body refracts off the mist. Plan a spring or early summer visit to Yosemite National Park when the moon is full. On a clear night, moonlit rainbows – called moonbows – span 2425-foot high Yosemite Fall with a trail leading right to its base.
For many, vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains rank among the nation’s most beautiful natural scenery. The 4-mile hike up to the summit of Old Rag Mountain via the Ridge Trail at Shenandoah National Park is challenging, but the 360 degree view from the top is unparalleled, as nearly 200,000 acres of wilderness stretch below you. Twirl your beloved around in a dance so that the entire scene spins before her eyes.
What is more romantic than midnight at the oasis? Joshua Tree National Park has a few, with the 49 Palms Oasis among the easiest to reach. The 49 Palms Oasis Trail heads 1.5-miles to stands of fan palms and water pools. Bring a blanket to lay out on the sand and a picnic basket for an evening snack under the stars.
Boasting among the darkest skies in continental America, you can see up to 7,500 stars with the naked eye – nearly four times more than is typical in a rural area – at Bryce Canyon National Park. The Piracy Point Trail, a half-mile round trip from Far View Point, leads to a picnic area overlooking a cliff perfect for stargazing. Study up on the names of a few stars in the night sky and point them out to your sweetheart.
The Park Service at Capitol Reef National Park maintains more than 3,100 trees – including cherry, apricot, peach, pear and apple – in orchards planted decades ago by Mormon pioneers. For a small fee, park visitors can pick the fruit when in season. While there’s no designated trail, the Historic Fruita Orchards Walk takes you through the fruit trees near Utah Hwy. 24. Share with your beloved what you’ve picked at your next rest stop.
Sunrise to propose by
Among the first places in America to see the sunrise is the top of Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park. As the sun ascends over the Atlantic Ocean below the summit, it colors the waters in an incredible light show. Bring a breakfast picnic, and as the new day begins, propose marriage (or “renew” your vows), for the sunrise symbolizes the dawning of your life together. Since you can drive to the summit, after she says “Yes,” together hike one of the trails along the mountain top (Either the South Ridge Trail or the Gorge Path are beautiful.).
Rob Bignell is the author of several hiking guidebooks, including the bestselling “Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks.”