Adventurer and artist Rachel Pohl may be only 23, but she’s already logged visits to 15 of the USA’s 59 National Parks.
Her goal is to visit them all in her lifetime, a story at the heart of the film America Wild: National Parks Adventure presented by Expedia and Subaru, which debuts in IMAX and giant screen theatres on February 12, 2016. It chronicles the adventures of Pohl and other mountaineers as they visit some of the USA’s national parks. Here, the Bozeman, Montana, native shares her favorite moments from this extraordinary film.
What was your most memorable moment filming America Wild: National Parks Adventure?
While climbing Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, I was about 100 meters off the ground, and we had a three-meter tripod sticking out from the rock walls, holding an IMAX camera. It took days just to get it up there. At one point, I had my hands and feet on opposing walls, basically doing a split. Being out in the elements like that and capturing it on film was awesome.
Which experience surprised you most?
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan, is an under-appreciated, unique and peaceful place. In the spring and summer, wildflowers blanket trails and it’s a great place to go mountain biking. In the winter, it’s one of the top spots in the USA for ice climbing.
During winter, there’s excellent ice climbing at Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Utah is home to five national parks, more than any other state. Do you have any tips for travelers planning a trip?
My favorite by far is Bryce Canyon National Park. Walk as far as your body can take you, and make sure that includes a stop at a stunning area known as Fairyland Canyon. The view from the rim is incredible but it really gets awe-inspiring once you get down among the hoodoos and spires. When the sun hits these rock formations, it’s like they’re made of glass. Walk within them, then go back to the top for a view from above. This gives you a better idea of the scale of these ancient figures. Bryce is also home to Sunrise Point and Sunset Point, which are within a half-mile of each other. Visiting one in the morning and the other in the evening is an other-worldly experience.
The other-worldly Bryce Canyon National Park is one of five national parks in Utah.
Are there any other favorite national park experiences you recommend?
I am enchanted by desert landscapes, and I highly recommend southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. It stays warm during the day well into the winter sometimes, stretching the season.
Adventurer Rachel Pohl’s quest is to visit every U.S. national park.
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