Magazine article Sunset

Best of the West 2000: Travel

Magazine article Sunset

Best of the West 2000: Travel

Article excerpt

Join Sunset in celebrating cider and subtropical blooms, new hiking trails and classic garden tools. And,yes,one supremely elegant banana split

FOR BEST OF THE WEST 2000, SUNSET writers and editors scoured the West from Kula, Maui, to Antelope island, Utah, seeking the ultimate experiences our region has to offer. Many of our bests are new: the most beautiful new perennial, the most exhilarating new scenic drive. But we've uncovered some classics too: sweetly old-fashioned jams, venerable hardware stores. The West is a land of superlatives-the highest mountain, the lowest valley, the driest desert, and the rainiest rain forest. Shouldn't we expect it to have the best of everything else? It does, as you'll see in these pages.

Best new national park

"Most people-when they first see it-just say, 'Wow,"' reports Sheridan Steele, superintendent of the nation's newest national park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison. No wonder: The 1/2-mile-deep chasm carved by the Gunnison River through western Colorado's pre-Cambrian metamorphic rock is one of the most amazing sites in the world. Hiking into the canyon is daunting, but up top, South Rim and North Rim drives provide superb vistas. Two developed campgrounds may entice you to spend the night, just to see dawn light up that incomparable gorge. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, 76 miles southeast of Grand Junction, CO; (970) 641-2337.

Crazy about horses

Horses and cattle built Pendleton, Oregon. Now the town boasts art to match its soul. Michael Booth's The Cattie Drive stars nine Hereford cows, two paint horses, a border collie, and a pair of cowboys-all larger than life and sculpted in dyed cement. I-84, exit 209; (541) 276-7411.

Cider house rules

It's hard to improve on 20 million Sonoma County apples, but Brit Jeffrey House manages to do it, transforming Gravensteins and other varieties into light, tasty alcoholic cider. At Ace in the Hole in Sebastopol, California-the first cider pub in the United States-you can sample House's apple, berry, pear, or honey cider, plus seasonal variations from mango cider to unfiltered English "scrumpy." 3100 Gravenstein Hwy. N.; (707) 829-1101 or www.acecider.com.

Best new old hotels

Hankering for some heritage in your next hotel stay? Two historic hotels have just reopened after extensive renovation. In Santa Fe, 159room La Posada de Santa Fe (from $199; 800/7275276) grew out of 19th-century merchant Abraham Staab's mansion, now home to the hotel's Fuego Restaurant. On the beach in Santa Monica (above), the Italian Renaissance-style Hotel Casa del Mar (from $335; 800/898-6999) harks back to the resort's jazz Age heyday.

Best new

scenic drive

Roaming some 280 miles into the forest, and glacial lakes of the Selkirk Mountains, the newly iI designated International Selkirk Loop circles from Idaho's panhandie through northeastern Washington into southern British Columbia and back to the United States. Loop highlights include the Washington towns of Newport and Metaline Falls, the Idaho resort areas of Priest Lake and Sandpoint, and the lovely British Columbia town of Nelson; canoeing and wildlife-watching; even a free ferry ride across Kootenay Lake. International Selkirk Loop; (889) 823-2626 or www.selkirkloop.org.

Way out West

For 12 years, Chuck Woodbury has celebrated the West's offbeat corners in his quarterly newspaper, out West-essential reading for anyone who loves small towns, strange museums, and Western eccentrics. $12.95 per year 9792 Edmonds Way, Suite 265, Edmonds, WA 98020; (800) 274-9378. …

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