The most remote national park
“For a decade now, I’ve been obsessed with one of the most overlooked patches of real estate” in America, said Christopher Solomon in The New York Times. Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, located 350 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaskan Peninsula, has the distinction of being the least visited of America’s 401 national parks. Last year, just 19 people trekked into the 600,000-acre preserve, which is accessible by boat or floatplane out of King Salmon. When you arrive, you won’t find a visitors’ center, trails, or any permanent facilities. What you will find is a collapsed volcano whose caldera is home to “pumpkin-colored” hot springs and a lake where brown bears feast on salmon. Aniakchak, a guide once told me, is where the rest of the country’s weather is made. Never one to follow the throngs to Yellowstone, I find it comforting to know there remains at least one corner of this nation where we can still vanish.
A New Jersey sculpture garden
Just outside Trenton, N.J., lies an art lover’s Eden, said Philippa Chaplin in The Philadelphia Inquirer. I’d never before planned a day trip to Hamilton Township, N.J., but one day last fall a glimpse of two 20-foot-tall mariachi musicians inspired me to carve out time for a visit to Grounds for Sculpture (groundsforsculpture.org). Created in 1992 by sculptor J. Seward Johnson, the park provides a serene home to 270 sculptures, including many of the artist’s life-size figures. Johnson wanted to offer an alternative to the typical museum experience, though, so many works can be touched, and picnicking is encouraged. Strolling grounds that are themselves a work of art, a friend and I passed an afternoon shouting into Hans Van de Bovenkamp’s stainless-steel arc Sagg Portal and squinting at the figures in the tall grass surrounding Johnson’s Erotica Tropicallis. Alas, a rainstorm scuttled our visit. All the more reason to go back.