Whether you’re used to warmer climates or quite content in the cold, there’s no denying that spring is a pretty wonderful time of the year. All the life that seems to have been hiding within the earth emerges, and the world seems to become a more colorful, brighter, livelier place. If you happen to be travelling during the spring and summer months, you’ll find that HI USA has hostels in some pretty sweet spots to do some Julie Andrews “Hills Are Alive” spinning around amongst beautiful blooms (or just regular viewing and photo snapping if you’re not the spinning type). Pack a picnic and pile in a car with some of your new hostel friends to enjoy some of nature’s most delicious eye-treats, because there’s probably nothing more bonding than getting to see how simple and wonderful the world can be.
Chimney Rock at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California
Considered to be one of the best places in the Bay Area for wildflower viewing, the Chimney Rock trailhead in the Point Reyes National Seashore is a favorite of hikers and photographers from March to May because of the spectacular display of bright yellow goldfields, golden orange California poppies and royal purple spikes of lupine carpeting the dramatic cliffs. It’s a fairly easy hike to get to the wildflowers (provided there’s no fog or wind) and you’re also likely to get bonus sightings of seals, birds, and possibly even some gray whales if you’re there in mid-March. Bring some snacks to enjoy at the picnic benches where you can take in the breathtaking combination of sea, sky and flowers.
How to get there: The trail start at the end of Sir Francis Drake road near the Point Reyes Lighthouse. From December to late March, Sir Francis Drake road is closed and there are shuttle buses from the Bear Valley Visitors Center.
Where to stay: HI Point Reyes hostel makes for an excellent base to do some exploring in this national park.
Shenandoah National Park near Richmond, Virginia
From early spring right through to the heart of summer, you can treat your eyes to a feast of purple and yellow violets, pink lady’s slippers, bright orange touch-me-nots and a host of other flowers at the Shenandoah National Park. Located about an hour’s drive from Richmond, this 200, 000 acre park features hikes that end with breathtaking vistas, magnificent wildlife, perfect picnic spots, and of course, a smorgasbord of pretty petals blooming on forest floors and alongside rivers. Be prepared to spend an entire day ooh-ing and aah-ing at Mother Nature at her absolute best, and don’t forget to bring your camera since you won’t be able to pick any flowers to take home (tempting as it may be!).
How to get there: Shenandoah National Park is about an hour’s drive west from Richmond on Interstate 64.
Where to stay: Stay at HI USA’s newest hostel in the network, HI Richmond hostel.
Pacific Grove in Monterey, California
Rent a bicycle and hug the shore along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, an 18-mile stretch in Monterey that leads to a striking sea of pinkish-purple ice plants at its south end in Pacific Grove. From early April through to the end of May, these almost fluorescent succulents shimmer brightly competing with the sea and the weather-beaten boulders between The Esplanade and Lover’s Point. There are benches dotted along the way so you can take a second (or many) to just breathe in the salty air and take in the magenta magnificence.
How to get there: The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is just a few blocks from HI Monterey hostel and there are plenty of places to rent bikes from.
Where to stay: The charming HI Monterey hostel!