Awe-Inspiring Tourism Sites: For the Nature-Lover in All of Us . . .

I just recently read the latest issue of Vacations where they featured 12 awe-inspiring U.S. preserves. I have always enjoyed nature, as I’m sure many of our blog readers do, so I thought why not join in and feature some lesser know but equally ‘awe’ inspiring natural habitats that just might encourage you to load up the family and hit the road…

orange-chinned parakeet flickr sussexbirderWildwood Wildlife and Nature Center (aka Zoo of the Northwoods in Minocqua) is the 2nd largest zoo in Wisconsin, where you can get “up close and personal” while you have lunch at the all new Jambo Hut overlooking the Giraffe Serengeti habitat area, or with kiddies in hand you might want to have an interactive Budgie encounter where over 500 beautiful parakeets intermingle with the zoo’s guests. For those not into new-found feathered friends, you might want to bottle feed any number of animal bottle babies in their interactive petting zoo. Note: flickr photo of the two orange chinned parakeets is by sussexbirder

Perhaps one of the most unusual ‘animal type preserve’ is Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, where more than 1,000 exotic, wildlife and domestic animals call home, living side-by-side, as witnessed in these photos. The only way to do this sanctuary justice is to simply point you to their website.
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Maybe you’re not into areas of confinement: if so, then the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway provides plenty of wide-open spaces, impressive any time of year, but more so in the Spring and Fall seasons when millions of migrating birds rest their wings and refuel at the Byway Wetlands. The region is filled with other species as well where you can find “burrowing owls to bobcats.”

The 77-mile Byway, including a stretch of the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas, connects two of the “world’s most significant wetlands” (Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge), and may very well change your vision of the Sunflower State.

Cheyenne Bottoms - photo by dr da wittCheyenne Bottoms is the largest interior marsh in the United States and one of the “most important shorebird migration stopover points in the Western Hemisphere where more than half of all shorebirds that migrate east of the Rockies pass through this 40,000-acre lowland” . . . and surely a favorite of ‘peepers’ also known as bird watchers.

It is said “there remain only a handful of natural places on this planet that display a vast, timeless, landscape,” places like the wetlands treasure, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Others include the Serengeti, the Everglades and the Amazon . . . all a wonder to behold.

bl tail jr wikimiAnother phenomenon that is part of this ecological wonder is the presence of the black tailed Jack Rabbit, where in Kansas it is a sport to hunt Jack Rabbits on horseback and with Greyhound dogs. These rabbits can run up to 40 mph and leap up to 25 feet in one bound. There are also bison, prairie dogs and the not so well known “magic muck” which sustains life for the many species that have a temporary or permanent home in the wetlands.

The beauty of nature is captivating, and we indeed are fortunate to have places such as the Zoo of the Northwoods, Noah’s Ark, and Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway. So, if touring Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, or ‘scoping’ out lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is not on your list this year, perhaps Kansas, Wisconsin and Georgia are on your mind . . .

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