Numerous studies suggest that spending time in nature — in a nearby park or deep in the wilderness — is good for our brains. Here are four ways to ease the stress of daily life and savor the solace of open spaces.
1. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Relish the magical silence and pristine beauty of our first national park cloaked in her winter finery. New snowfall serves as the perfect backdrop for an adventure to a steaming backcountry geyser, a snowshoe around Old Faithful or scouting for wolves and bison in the Lamar Valley. Venture to and from your overnight at the Snow Lodge via snow coach, stopping en route to observe animals on the move, icy waterfall formations and the evening alpenglow on the mountains.
2. BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE TRIPS, ELY, MINNESOTA
Ease your canoes into the pristine water and look forward to peaceful days of paddling amid a sparsely populated, 1 million-plus-acre expanse of wilderness. Listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline and the haunting lullaby offered by loons as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees and enjoy breakfast over a campfire.
3. ECOSYSTEMS IN BELIZE
Experience the calming effects of nature within this Central American gem where rain forests and expansive barrier reefs are a part of the 87 distinct types of ecosystems. Snorkel and dive in coastal areas or go inland for dense greenery and the chance to see colorful native birds. Stay at the Lodge at Chaa Creek for morning bird-watching tours, to visit the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and for medicine trail tours where you’ll learn about medicinal plants.
4. RIVER RAFTING
Trade the tethers of technology for splashing through rapids, soaking in natural hot springs, viewing American Indian rock paintings, discovering pioneer homesteads and stargazing. As you float through ancient canyons, you’ll be carving a memory your family won’t soon forget.