Portable Park

America’s Most Majestic Outdoor Places

Our physical roaming may some times be limited, leaving us to dream and plan for the day when we will cross deserts, navigate mountains, and sleep alongside babbling brooks and crashing waves. To stoke your dreams and soothe your wanderer's soul, Airstream is pleased to bring some of America’s most majestic outdoor places to wherever you may be.

Grand Canyon National Park

The Most Famous Canyon on Earth

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Episode 2: Grand Canyon National park

The Grand Canyon is unquestionably the most famous canyon on Earth. It’s a consensus member of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, sharing that pantheon with the likes of Mt. Everest and the Aurora Borealis. Its magnetic appeal is hard to put into words but that's why we put it into video and nature sounds so you can experience it from home. See the park like never before and aspire to visit this jagged, beautiful hole in the future.

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Grand Camping at the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon offers several spectacular camping locations that truly rock. Staying close to the park enhances the experience and lets you soak in the true beauty of the historic canyon. Check out this list of five campgrounds to make the most of the Grand Canyon, as reviewed by your fellow Airstreamers on Campendium. Each entry includes an in-depth description of the surrounding landscape and adventure opportunities to help you choose wisely.

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Yellowstone National Park

Experience the Park Like Never Before

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Plan Your Next Adventure to Yellowstone

Yellowstone is an old-school experience, a place best enjoyed slowly and immersively. Staying in the park helps make the most of your visit. Check out this list of Yellowstone’s four best campgrounds, as reviewed by your fellow Airstreamers on Campendium. Each entry includes an in-depth description of the surrounding landscape and adventure opportunities to help you choose wisely. Yellowstone books up fast; make your choice now!

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Words of Awe-Inspiring Wonder

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Yellowstone

A Place That Calls to Our Heart and Spirit

Three thousand, four hundred and seventy-two square miles of majestic beauty that looks almost exactly as it did before humans showed up 11,000 years ago. So big. So much.

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Grand Canyon

Indescribable Enchantment

It's not the longest, deepest, the oldest, or even the most visited park. What makes this canyon so special? As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World it's difficult to put into words but the canyon can speak for itself.

Yellowstone National Park

The First and Most Iconic National Park

 

Yellowstone.

It sits in the northwest corner of Wyoming maps, a place so remote yet so familiar. A place that calls to our heart and spirit. A place that looms in our collective imagination.

Ah, Wilderness!

I hear the mountains calling.

Give me a home where the buffalo roam.

Yellowstone.

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Bigger than two states combined (Delaware and Rhode Island). So big it spills out of Wyoming into neighboring Idaho and Montana. Three thousand, four hundred and seventy-two square miles, to be precise. As if precision matters when it comes to a place like Yellowstone. The real measure is more than we can imagine.

Three thousand, four hundred and seventy-two square miles of majestic beauty that looks almost exactly as it did before humans showed up 11,000 years ago. 

 Quoth John Muir: “A thousand Yellowstone wonders are calling! Look up and down and round you!” 

This, our first and most iconic National Park, embraces rich and diverse ecosystems set atop a rugged, rumbling, ever-changing piece of geologic handiwork. Give Mother Nature 150 million years to work with some of her incomprehensibly powerful tools and this is what you get.

Here you’ll find jagged mountain peaks, thrust 11,000 feet into the sky in a cataclysmic collision of tectonic plates. Cold clear lakes carved by retreating glaciers. Thundering rivers and creeks that have reshaped the landscape with deceptive power for eons while sparkling in the sunlight. Towering waterfalls fed by mountain snowmelt. Boiling mud pots, hissing steam vents, geysers – the geysers of our imagined Yellowstone – powered by the hellish heat of a supervolcano magma pool that runs 37 miles long and 18 miles wide beneath the heart of this fantastical place.

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And Mother Earth’s not done with her work. Yellowstone’s geology is alive and ever-changing, with imperceptible morphing done by wind, rain, snow, and heat. Here the Earth shakes 2,000 times a year as pieces of the Earth’s crust jostle for position. The supervolcano rumbles and the seething magma pool shifts as Nature fusses over and tweaks her stunning creation. 

Hot springs become mud pots. New steam vents open. Geysers erupt less often. Or more often. All as the result of endless shifts deep below the surface.

Yellowstone wears its flora like a glorious wardrobe that softens, warms, and enhances those rugged geologic lines. The snow-dappled mountains are draped in taiga – lush forests of lodgepole pine, spruce, and fir that revel in the bitter winters and add a deep green to every season’s vistas. Some of her valleys don simple green and golden grasses that loll in the breeze while others preen in vainglorious displays of a hundred different wildflowers. In the park’s northern range, yellow-tipped sagebrush is the must-have accessory across the grassy steppe-like Hayden, Pelican, and Madison Valleys.

The park’s crazy quilt of elevations and habitats nurtures a spectacular array of wildlife. 

Across, over and under these shimmering landscapes an Eden-like collection of creatures flits, flys, swims, pads, and thunders. Yellowstone harbors the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states – 67 species ranging from bears and bobcats to wolverines and weasels.

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America’s oldest herd of bison roams in Yellowstone. This collection of majestic beasts has bellowed across the region’s summer grazing lands and chuffed through its winter snows for thousands of years. It’s hard to visit Yellowstone without seeing the bison. They are front and center in the Lamar, Hayden, and Pelican Valleys, just as they are in our dreams of the Wild West. 

Gray wolves and grizzlies keep their distance, rewarding lucky visitors with an occasional brief glimpse – a flash of fur or moment of eye contact sufficient to keep the buzz going in the campgrounds and lodges. But simply knowing such awe-inspiring creatures are out there, somewhere, adds to the magic of this place.

The circle of life is embodied by the herds of elk that roam Yellowstone’s valleys. Regal in appearance and gait, elk keep the vegetation in check and provide sustenance for both alpha predators and scavenging mammals and birds.

Moose and beaver make their lives around Yellowstone’s 600 lakes and ponds, while river otters frolic alongside some of the park’s 1,000 trout-rich rivers and streams. Pronghorn and mule deer graze in the valleys. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats are seen in the higher, mountainous elevations.

The radiant blue skies above Yellowstone are full of birds both mundane and rare. Roughly 150 species nest in the park, which is also a popular stop-over for migratory birds. Songbirds fill both the forests and grasslands with their music. Trumpeter swans, loons, cranes, and pelicans can be spotted on the park’s lakes and rivers, especially in the Hayden Valley. Soaring above it all, looking for the right opportunity are the raptors – eagles, falcons, hawks, kestrels, and owls.

“If you ask us how to spend your one day in Yellowstone, we tell you to go find a nice spot to sit and cry.” – Park Ranger saying

Yellowstone. So big. So much.

How best to get your arms around it? Take a lesson from nature – go slow, and carve your own path. Make this real-life Magic Kingdom your destination, not a stop-over. Don’t let a checklist of supposed must-sees shape your days. Make time to wander and explore at your pace without an agenda. Hike the less-traveled trails and make unique memories. Stand still, close your eyes and listen to Yellowstone. Feel its splendor in all your senses. Take advantage of the silence and solitude that are only available when you are cosseted in three thousand, four hundred and seventy-two square miles of wilderness.

Answer Yellowstone’s call with your heart and the place will touch your spirit.

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Grand Canyon National Park

Too Indefinite to Adequately Describe

What exactly makes the Grand Canyon so… grand?

It’s not superlative by the standard metrics.

Not the longest - that would be Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon.

Not the deepest - Yarlung Tsangpo, again.

Not the oldest -- or maybe it is; no one’s quite sure.

Shoot, Grand Canyon National Park isn’t even the most visited park. It doesn’t make the Top 10 list of our largest national treasures.

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The first European visitors flat out dismissed the place with a shrug. In 1510 a group of Spanish Conquistadors camped on the edge of the Grand Canyon for two days as they searched for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. We know this only because two junior members of the expedition made passing mention of the stop in their diaries. “Eh.”

 

Some 350 years later, U.S. Army Lt. Joseph Ives concluded a report about his exploration of the Grand Canyon this way: “It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”

And yet, today, this jagged, craggy, rocky, rambling hole in the ground inspires our collective awe. The Grand Canyon is unquestionably the most famous canyon on Earth, beating the Yarlung Tsangpo in a runaway. It’s a consensus member of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, sharing that pantheon with the likes of Mt. Everest and the Aurora Borealis. 

The Grand Canyon’s magnetic appeal is hard to put into words. Many talented writers have failed in the effort. As western journalist and author George Wharton James observed in 1910, “Though only two hundred and seventeen miles long, [the Grand Canyon] expresses within that distance more than any one human mind yet has been able to comprehend or interpret to the world. Famous word-masters have attempted it... but all alike have failed…They know they cannot describe it, but they proceed to exhaust their vocabularies in talking about it, and in trying to make clear to others what they saw and felt.”

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President Theodore Roosevelt, the author of 45 books, threw in the rhetorical towel during a speech he made after visiting the canyon. 

“I shall not attempt to describe it, because I cannot. I could not choose words that could convey to any outsider what that canyon is,” said Roosevelt.

But TR, ever a man of action, went on to offer this advice: “Leave [The Grand Canyon] as it is.  You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.  What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American... should see.”

In other words, no second-hand description can substitute for immersing yourself in the Grand Canyon’s wonder. You must find it for yourself, engage your senses in its beauty, and come up with your own definition of grand.

Perhaps you’ll find it the moment you arrive – when you first look out across the canyon gobsmacked and realize it runs all the way to the horizon; that it’s 18 miles – 18 miles! – to the other rim. Or when you instinctually push back from the railing after your first glance down the sheer canyon wall. Fumble your phone over the edge and it will take 20 seconds to reach the bottom.

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If you’re from a green, geologically tame place, like, say, east of the Mississippi, you may find grandeur in a landscape so very different from what you know. The canyon’s rough-hewn rocky features, ocher colors, and surrounding desert have more in common with Mars than Massachusetts. Anywhere back east or up north dubbed “the Grand Canyon of…” isn’t. 

A pre-dawn hike to Yaki Point to view sunrise over the canyon may help you define this place. Watch as the sun peeks over the rim, then slowly fills the canyon, waking the colors of the rocks and illuminating signature geological features like Vishnu Temple and the Sinking Ship.

The shiver you feel won’t be from the morning chill.

Rafting through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River offers yet another perspective. Roaring rapids serve as a reminder of the relentless force that carved the canyon over millions of years. Tranquil stretches allow for close examination of the canyon’s layered walls of granite, schist, gneiss, and limestone. The inevitable result is a contemplation of one’s place in a world where a million years is the blink of Mother Nature’s eye.

You may find yourself in a similar reverie as you ride a mule down a winding trail to the canyon’s bottom, every clip-clop taking you 10,000 years back in geological time. 

Or maybe it will all come together for you on the canyon’s North Rim, which is 225 miles and a world away from the go-to, go-go South Rim. There, in the quiet, largely untouched north, you can truly reflect and imagine. Time has no real meaning in this place. The rocks beneath your feet, the view before your eyes have changed but imperceptibly in the past millions of years. 

The desert plant waving gently in the light breeze. The hawk riding updrafts over the canyon. The air shimmering with heat radiating from the brightly colored rock. The seemingly endless expanse of canyons, spires, ridges and mesas below a cloudless azure sky.

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Sit quietly and let it calm your mind. Let it soothe your soul. In that place, understanding will come. You will know what makes the Grand Canyon grand.