Pennsylvania’s amazing cave
Penn’s Cave is a symbol of America’s “tenacious survival instinct,” said Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times. This remarkable artifact of untouched nature lies amid the hills of central Pennsylvania, just a half-hour from the interstate. Penn’s Cave was originally discovered by Native Americans, who used it for shelter, and while surrounding areas have become more populated during the intervening centuries, the cave itself still seems marvelously remote. It’s the only cavern in the U.S. that can be toured entirely by boat—a 50-minute trip that involves maneuvering among the “narrow gorges” leading to Lake Nitanee, then plunging through the cavern’s depths and into the grotto’s “charmed, deep midnight.” Elaborate stalagmite groupings, with names like “Garden of Gods,” rise amid the interior and create a mysterious other world. Another cluster is called the “Statue of Liberty.” A wildlife park near the cave offers close encounters with elk, bison, buffalo, cougars, and mustangs.

The crystal eye of Quebec
Quebec’s Pingualuit Crater must be “one of the wonders of the world,” said Lawrence Millman in The Boston Globe. About 1.4 million years ago, a meteorite more than 400 feet in diameter smashed into the Earth, leaving this “gaping hole in the planet’s crust.” Today this “huge circular lake,” located near the northern tip of the Canadian province, nearly a thousand miles from Montreal, boasts the clearest, “bluest blue” water I have ever seen. One of the “youngest and best preserved craters” on Earth, Pingualuit has become the main attraction of the Parc National des Pingualuit. Founded just a year ago, this national park sits amid the region’s “endless tundra” and most of the time is entirely devoid of humankind. The only residents wandering this “pristine habitat” are rock ptarmigan, snow buntings, and lone caribou. Trekking across the remote land, “I felt like a visitor to Yellowstone in 1873, the year it became a national park.” Only an astronaut on the moon could have felt a “greater sense of solitude.”