Smith River Basin, California

The Smith River is cataloged with the cleanest water in the country, and its basin is one of the most beautiful. It is turquoise, with crystal-clear waters descending through a canyon of limestone rocks.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Despite arriving in April, most of the park was closed due to snow. Though initially disappointed, seeing the snow-covered volcano shining amid nearby forests and lakes made me realize that just being there was already very special.

The Lava Beds National Monument, California

Lava Beds National Monument is where I encountered everything from volcanoes and craters to hundred caves, chimneys, and lava paths created by repeated volcanic eruptions over the last 500,000 years.

Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is an enchanted place with blue waters surrounded by mountains still covered in snow, even in spring, and tall coniferous forests.