9 travel stories our readers loved in 2023

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Whether hiking a new trail through a tropical rainforest or tasting an emerging wine region, people were venturing out this year in numbers that have even exceeded pre-pandemic levels. As of November 2023, more than 61 million Americans flew to international regions, compared to more than 55 million during the same period in 2019, according to the United States International Trade Administration.

Here’s a look back at nine of our globetrotting readers’ favorite travel stories from the past year.

Is this California wine region the new Napa? Its vintners hope not.

The Suisun Valley—a lesser known northern California wine region—offers top-notch wines on small-scale family farms. 

Read more on how to taste it for yourself before the crowds catch on.

hoodoos pepper the landscape in Chiricahua National Monument

Hoodoos pepper the landscape of Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument. Earlier this year, the state’s representatives in Congress introduced a bipartisan national park re-designation bill, in hopes that the monument would become Arizona’s fourth national park.

Photograph by Dukas, Universal Images Group/Getty

One of these 7 places may be America’s next national park

It’s been three years since West Virginia’s New River Gorge became the U.S.’s newest national park. What wild spot might be named the 64th? The candidates range from the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest in Alaska to an Apache “Wonderland of Rocks” in Arizona. 

Discover the seven sites that might be considered.

These breathtaking natural wonders no longer exist

Over the years, hundreds of landmarks have drastically changed—even disappeared. Here are some natural beauties the world has lost over the last 50 years—and some fragile sites you can still visit, responsibly. 

See, and appreciate, those that remain before it’s too late.

Sunshines through a jungle path

At 28,000 acres, Puerto Rico’s El Yunque is one of the smallest U.S. forests but also one of the most biologically diverse. Its lush, green landscape protects more than 200 species of trees and plants and 150 species of animals, many of which are endemic to the island.

Photograph by Dennis van de Water, Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s stunning new trail traverses a tropical rainforest

Puerto Rico’s new NorEste (Northeast) Trail in El Yunque National Forest is one of a kind: “Rarely can you hike in a rainforest, be at a mountain peak in the clouds, and go to the beach all in the same day,” says Keenan Adams, forest supervisor of El Yunque.

The 40-mile, multiday adventure takes hikers from the island’s coral reefs to the forest’s highest peak.

Read more about the first multiday backpacking route in Puerto Rico.

Walk across the sky in the U.S.’s highest-elevation city

At 10,158 feet, it’s no wonder that Leadville, Colorado, is nicknamed Cloud City. The Rocky Mountain town is also the site of the legendary “Race Across the Sky” ultramarathon that takes place every August.

Explore this former mining town turned outdoors adventure hub.

What causes motion sickness—and how can you prevent it?

Nausea, dizziness, cold sweats: encountering motion sickness is a common plague for many travelers. Here’s why motion sickness happens and what travelers can do to prevent it—some of the hacks might surprise you. 

Here’s the trick to not feeling queasy.

Tromsø in Norway is one of Europe’s best cities for spotting the Northern Lights. Learn more here. 

Photograph by Juan Maria Coy Vergara, Getty

6 places to see the Northern Lights in Europe

Experts believe 2024 may bring the best auroras in 20 years—and may even be seen in regions they’re not normally spotted. 

Here’s where to go aurora hunting in Europe.

This grand trail will one day connect Washington, D.C., to Washington State

The Great American Rail-Trail will link towns and cities along a dedicated, 3,700-mile path that uses many converted railways. Not only will it take hikers and bikers on a cross-continental journey, organizers hope it will help revitalize the economy of America’s heartland.  

Trace the growth of this ambitious new trail.

Nudity, sex, and disrespect: Bali looks to rein in bad tourist behavior

Bali is proposing rules aimed at curbing decades of disrespect by some tourists at sacred sites, including temples and mountains. 

Here’s what to know about the proposed hiking bans.

Golshan Jalali is a producer on the social strategy team at National Geographic, focused on travel. Follow her on Instagram.


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