• Justin Key

Top 10 Locations I Missed

There's never enough time to see and do everything. It's been a consistent occurrence in my travels that a location or two get missed. Whether it's time management issues, weather, or simple proximity I've missed out on some incredible locations over the years. For this list of 10, I'm going back through my travels and finding the 10 locations that are calling me back to the places I've already been to.

10. Thor's Well, Oregon

This first location can be chalked up to overbooking. I completely underestimated how much I could see in Oregon. It didn't help that the state is full of beautiful locations to photograph. Ultimately the planned day trip cruise down the coast got cut and the oddity of Thor's Well with it. The hole in the ocean has been photographed plenty of times but my interest was seeing the natural wonder in person. Eventually, I'll return to Oregon and check this off the list along with a handful of waterfalls that could have made this list too.

9. The Race Track, California

Death Valley National Park is full of unique landscapes. From badlands to salt flats, it has mountains and sand dunes even its own race track. During my visit a few years ago I wasn't able to make it out to the dried-up lake bed with moving boulders because there were just too many things to see on a short trip. The cracked earth was reason alone to go but the trek to the Race Track is an adventure on its own. Rather than spend a day driving through the desert I decided to pack the trip with a high quantity of easy to access locations in the park instead. When I go back, the Race Track will definitely be high on the list, along with a return to the sand dunes of course.

8. Houghton, Michigan

Weather ruled this stop out of my winter road trip last year. Of all the locations on the list, this is the only one I've actually been to before. That visit had nothing to do with photography however and I've been wanting to return with my camera ever since. I was hoping for a few days in the Upper Penninsula during my February tour of the Midwest but after synchronizing the drive with a blizzard, I had to adjust my plans. The UP is beautiful in the winter and I would love to explore Houghton and Copper Harbor at some point. At least I will always have Marquette.

7. Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Similar to Oregon, I overbooked the Tuscany portion of our Italy trip two years ago. Between the rolling hills and historic villages, you could spend a month running around Tuscany and still not see everything. With just a couple days, I was hoping to hit the highlights and the amazing city atop a hill known as Civita di Bagnoregio was among them. The last afternoon in Tuscany was to be spent hopping from town to town on our way to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately, Sarah and I got lost in the history of the first couple of towns and had to start chopping off legs in order to return our rental car on time. Civita di Bagnoregio was more out of the way than other stops so it will have to wait for our Tuscan month abroad down the road.

6. Gougane Barra National Park, Ireland

This location gets a pass because I didn't know about it until well after my Ireland trip. I stumbled across this Irish gem and then proceeded to kick myself when I discovered how close I'd been to it. The majority of my Ireland adventure was spent down the road from Killarney National Park but little did I know it had a smaller sister next door. Gougane Barra National Park features an ancient forest with enough moss to rival the Pacific Northwest and cozy lakeside cottages. Somehow I missed it during my research of the area but I guess I just have another reason to go back now.

5. Valley of Fire, Nevada

Just outside of Las Vegas is the Valley of Fire State Park and if you drive west to say Death Valley you will see signs for it. However, after spending months planning a trip there, you might decide to ignore those signs. Of course, after the Death Valley trip, I started to learn more about the Valley of Fire and have been wishing I'd have stopped ever since. The Valley of Fire looks like a rugged combination of all the Utah National Parks rolled into one. Knowing how close the park is to Vegas and how cheap tickets to Vegas are, it won't be hard to make a trip to the Valley of Fire sooner than the rest of this list.

4. Proxy Falls, Oregon

I should have just titled this one "Waterfalls, Oregon" because I missed out on a lot of them but the most regretful was Proxy Falls. I photographed a lot of falling water during that trip, Abiqua Falls is still one of my favorite locations of all time, but none of them resembled this misty cascade over a wall of moss that is Proxy. My next trip to Oregon will likely lean further south than the first one in order to check both Thor's Well and Proxy Falls off this list.

3. Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

This was a tough one. I was fortunate enough to go to Costa Rica on a spur of the moment decision to join my jet setting wife after a familiarization trip to the Central American country. With only three days, I was left with a decision to visit either Tenorio Volcano National Park or the Monteverde Cloud Forest and based on the name above you can guess which one ultimately won out. Tenorio Volcano National Park has this wild blue river running through it that looks like the source of the Caribbean's vibrancy. It was a tough call to hike the foggy rain forest over the florescent blue river but give me another day in paradise and I'd have checked this off the list too.

2. Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

I would go back to Ireland just to visit Giant's Causeway. Unfortunately, this northern location was extremely out of the way during my first visit. While it's located on the same island as Ireland, Giant's Causeway is actually in Northern Ireland which makes it part of the United Kingdom. During my trip to Ireland, we essentially cut the country in half and drove the southern ring putting us nowhere close to this wild landscape. Resembling stacks of coins, Giant's Causeway looks like the inside of a cartoon bank vault full of gold doubloons. Made of rock instead, this coastal location would definitely have inspired a number of gallery-worthy compositions.



1. Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

At number one is the biggest casualty from my winter road trip last year. Part of planning my journey in February was to allow the natural landbridge to the ice caves time to form. Based on the amount of snow and ice I drove through during the road trip you'd have bet the house on an iced-over Lake Superior. Even if the weather hadn't delayed my travels there wouldn't have been enough ice in the park. In all my time in Wisconsin, I never made it up to the Apostle Islands and that experience will continue to elude me until a solid winter and another long drive finally have me surrounded by icicles.

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