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Good To Know: Poison Ivy

Myth: Poison ivy rash is contagious.

Fact: Although the poison ivy rash appears contagious, you cannot catch a rash from someone else, and you cannot spread a rash to other parts of your own body.

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Poison ivy is a member of the toxicodendron family of plants, which also includes poison oak and poison sumac. It typically grows as a vine or shrub east of the Rocky Mountains along trails, ponds, and lakes. Poison sumac grows in boggy areas in the southern United States, while poison oak grows as a bush or climbing vine in the western United States.

Urushiol—the oil found in poison ivy, oak, and sumac—causes the typical allergic reaction and resulting rash symptoms. Contact with urushiol can either be direct (read: touching the leaves themselves) or indirect (read: the oil gets on your clothes, bike, shoelaces, etc., and then you touch that object). Most rashes develop within eight to 48 hours after touching the oil, but can take as long as 15 days to form.

Although nasty, your poison ivy rash is not contagious. You can’t catch or spread the rash after it appears, even if you touch it or the blister fluid. Sometimes people believe that the rash is spreading because it appears over different parts of the body later on, but the rash only appears where urushiol has come in contact with the skin. So either the rash is still developing from earlier contact, or you have touched something that still has urushiol on it.

If you think you (or your dog!) has come into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, be sure to wash the affected areas immediately, preferably with a product like Tecnu, which is designed to remove the oil. Wash your clothes and footwear as well. If you do end up with a rash, there’s not much you can do, apart from taking a couple of antihistamine pills and using calamine lotion to help relieve symptoms. Your doctor can also prescribe medications like a sequence of steroids—they don’t stop the itching entirely, but do make the experience slightly more comfortable.

With the apex of poison ivy and poison oak season upon us, your best bet is to avoid the plants all together. Download one of the smartphone apps like LeafSnap (which uses facial recognition software to ID a plant based on its leaves) to help you identify poisonous plants in the field. Or view photos online before you head out in order to know what to avoid on the trail.

And when making a camp fire, never—NEVER—burn the stuff. The only thing worse than getting poison ivy on your skin? Getting it in nasal passages.

Travel: Aqaba, Jordan

Standing on the Yasmena dive boat out of the port of Aqaba, Jordan, you can see the coasts of Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.The Red Sea and surrounding landscape is beautiful from this vantage point, with the vast desert extending down to the ocean—and underneath the azure water it is even more magnificent. Yazan Alsaed, the Yasmena’s captain, has been a dive instructor for more than 20 years—he runs the dive and snorkel company Sea Guard, with three boats that operate year-round from the Aqaba port. The boat is immaculate—with first-rate snorkeling and scuba equipment, a top deck for sunning, and a kitchen that serves fresh tuna steaks and deliciously cold and frothy mint lemonade.

The coral reef here is vibrant and healthy. In order to protect the marine environment around Aqaba (including the Israeli town of Eilat, two miles along the coast), the Jordanian government established a marine park in 1997. The reef runs about 11 miles along the eastern arm of the Red Sea to Jordan’s border with Saudi Arabia and is so close to the shoreline that you can snorkel to it from one of the private or public beaches. But further out, the dive boat can deliver you to more than 20 world-class spots—including a sunken ship. The Cedar Pride, a 230-foot-long international cargo vessel, was sunk in 1985 to create a site for divers. It lies across two big coral reefs, so you can swim under the ship. The deepest point of the ship is 88.5 feet, but its highest point is only 30 feet under the surface, so you can see it even if just snorkeling.

More than 200 varieties of coral populate the reefs, in contrast to Hawaii’s more modest 45 species and Bermuda’s paltry 15. With an excess of 1,000 species of tropical fish, few crowds, and an exotic vibe straight out of Arabian Nights, Aqaba is a premier dive and windsurf spot that’s undiscovered by most Westerners.

But there’s more to this part of Jordan than the varied sea life.

The city of Aqaba is ancient, even by Middle East standards. It’s been inhabited since about 4,000 BC. The Nabateans, who carved the giant columns and granaries into the sandstone cliffs in Petra, called this coastal city home, and the Roman Tenth Legion was garrisoned here. In more modern times, it witnessed one of the most pivotal Middle East battles in World War I—the historic Battle of Aqaba.

Aqaba takes the guesswork out of what to wear when you’re visiting Jordan. While most people dress conservatively in the souk (market), the beachfront hotels and dive boats have a more cosmopolitan air—shorts, sleeveless tops, and even bikinis are nearly as prevalent as headscarves and traditional robes.

And Aqaba has arguably the best shopping in Jordan. It is a duty-free zone, so the prices are some of the best in the country. While there are modern boutiques, don’t miss the old souk, where you’ll find a kaleidoscope of shops, with souvenir stands, rug emporiums, and small cafes serving cardamom-spiced coffee and savory lamb kabobs. There are plenty of hotels and guest houses to choose from in Aqaba, where five star luxury properties like the Kempinski Aqaba Hotel or the InterContinental Aqaba  line the seashore. The latter has expansive, modern guest rooms as well as a first-class spa, a gorgeous outdoor pool, and 900 feet of private beach. You can eat and drink in one of the hotel’s several restaurants, or head into town to sit at a café with a cold beer and fruit-flavored hookah and revel in your good fortune.

Accurate casting is essential to snag the catch of the day.

George Poveromo demonstrates how you can cast like a pro!

Part of an ongoing weekly Tips and Tricks video segment.

Gear: Mountain Biking

One thing that’s not on this mountain bike essentials list? The bike…because you probably already know you’ll need that, whether your preference is a hard-tail with front suspension, a full-suspension rig, or an old-school single-speed fixie that are making a (somewhat inexplicable) comeback.  So…buy/borrow/rent a bike, and then tick the following off your must-have list.

Helmet

GEARmtnBikeHELMET

Foolish urban riders be damned: not wearing a bike helmet when cycling just ain’t smart. And this applies all the more when you go mountain biking, where roots, rocks, trees, and all manner of ways to crack your head open await. Go for one with decent ventilation, that easily adjusts in the back so that you can wear a hat or hoodie underneath if it’s cold, and consider a visor, which can help block out the sun or shield you from rain.

Sunglasses
Shades do more than just block out the sun when you’re riding. They also shield your eyes from splashing mud and help you to discern terrain in variable light conditions—like when you pedal from an open ridge into a grove of aspens. Consider sunglasses that allow you swap out lenses, so that you can pair the tint with the conditions (overcast sky or cycling in lots of shade: go for a light tint like yellow or orange; above-treeline rides on a bluebird day: go darker).  Also be sure to try ‘em on with your helmet to confirm they don’t interfere with its strap.

Shoes
Whether you go with clipless (where you shoes “clip” into the pedals) or traditional flat pedals, be sure that your shoes have a slightly aggressive tread so that you can have some traction for when you have to walk—and you will have to walk and push your bike for at least some of almost every ride.  We also appreciate cycle-specific shoes with hard toe caps for added protection and sticky rubber to gain better purchase on the pedals.

Shorts

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The world of mountain biking isn’t defined by body-hugging latex, but underneath those baggy shorts you’ll typically find a padded chamois that can really help to soften the bumps in the trail.  Consider shorts that come with removable inner linings so you can double up with other “regular” pairs of outside shorts. As for those external shorts, go with synthetic fabrics that offer some abrasion resistance, easy wash-n-wear, and quick-dry properties.

Shirt
A synthetic or merino-wool upper layer should keep you cool and comfortable in the saddle.  (Some of us still wear cotton, but don’t tell the apparel police). Both synthetic fibers and wool will wick away moisture (and wool has the added benefit of not retaining body odor, and keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold).  Shirts with half-zips let you vent quickly, which is nice for cycling in the dog days of summer, and three-quarter-length sleeves provide a bit of protection against scratching thorns, bushes, and branches.

Gloves

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Likely the least expensive thing on this list, and the one that can make the most difference. Get a pair with decent padding in the palms, and the jarring impact of the off-road ride will be substantially minimized, especially the next day. Fingerless or full gloves? More of a personal preference although gloves with fingers are nice in cold conditions.

The Little Things
In addition to common-sense items like lip balm, sun screen, water, and some trail food, be sure you have a few bike-specific essentials. A basic multi-tool with a variety of different-sized hex wrenches (and a chain tool, ideally) should help you get out of most mechanical jams. And a spare tube, a hand pump, and plastic tire levers to help you get off the tire are a must.  CO2 canisters, which will inflate the tube much faster than your arms, are also a nice add-on. But of course, most essentially, you should know how to change a tire.

Pack

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Hydration backpacks are a godsend for cycling because they allow you to easily drink on-the-go with one hand on the handlebars (or both, if your drinking tube is well situated).  As for the bag’s internal storage, be sure you have enough room for the little stuff (see below) as well as an extra layer of clothes. But unless you’re going for an epic ride, you don’t need a pack with massive volume—and you really want a pack with a slimmer profile so that it doesn’t slough around on your back when you’re pedaling.  Lightly padded shoulder straps should be comfortable and look for a pack with an adjustable sternum strap (which clips across the chest) so you can move it up or down for a comfortable fit.  A hipbelt isn’t essential given your overall posture in the saddle, but it will help to stabilize the load. If you are carrying enough weight that the hipbelt will help with load redistribution,  you’ll need a hipbelt with light padding (versus simple webbing), but for one that’s narrow in width, so the don’t interfere when you enter the more aggressive posture required by mountain biking.

Travel: Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum | The Kingdom of Jordan

Anyone who believes the desert is devoid of beauty has never been to Wadi Rum.Most famously portrayed as the backdrop to the film Lawrence of Arabia, this now-protected area in the south of Jordan covers just less than 250 square miles of dramatic desert wilderness. Within this vast, rust-colored sea of sand punctuated by jutting sandstone peaks are ancient rock carvings, Nabatean temples, and fresh water springs, all waiting to be explored.

In short, visiting Wadi Rum while in Jordan is a no-brainer. Perhaps more challenging is deciding how you want to experience this varied landscape. By jeep, camel or horse? By foot? By bike or by rock climbing the same routes that were once traversed by the ancient Bedouins, whose ancestors still call this region home?  Whichever you prefer, the desert’s canyons, rock bridges, sand dunes, and patina-covered sandstone cliffs provide an experience that resonates like a fine symphony or an Old Master‘s painting.

The vast majority of people living in and around Wadi Rum today is of Bedouin origin and, until recently, led nomadic lives, relying on goat and camel herds to make ends meet. Many now split their time between the village and their camps and tents, which fulfills their desire for freedom and the reality of keeping their children in school. Rum Village lies within the borders of the protected area. But Bedouin tents, with spectacular tea and polite conversation, are scattered throughout the region, a friendly refuge from the midday sun.

You won’t find luxury five-star resorts here. There is a guesthouse in Rum Village, you can pitch your own tent at one of the established campsites, or spend the night sleeping beneath the stars at Captain’s Desert camp, arguably the best way to experience the magic of both the people and the landscape. There are many “private” camps in the reserve—Captain’s Desert camp is nestled into a nook of sand surrounded by rocks, an oasis in the wide desert.

WadiRumAccomodations

Spend the day exploring, then drop your stuff off in one of the tents that encircle the fire pit and scramble up one of the surrounding bulbous jebels, or rock formations, to watch the sun sink below the horizon. Then dine on an elaborate feast cooked in an earthen oven, sip tea, and be prepared to dance around the campfire as the music starts and the stars carpet the sky.

Rise with dawn the next morning. Feel the breeze start to warm the desert air. Marvel at the sunrise as the world turns from dusty rose to orange to bright yellow. And then try to decide whether you’ll be riding a camel or pulling on your climbing harness after breakfast.

Be careful, however, as every visitor to Wadi Rum forever yearns to return. As T.E. Lawrence wrote in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, “For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.”

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Travel: Fishing in National Parks

Cast Away Your Troubles! We’re fishing in National Parks.

National parks are slices of nature and history preserved from development. That means fish, wildlife, and birds. While you can’t trap bear, elk, or eagles, you can catch fish. Often there are catch-and-release rules (according to the exact species, size, and location), but sometimes you’re free to tote your catch back to camp for a scrumptious campfire dinner. Either way, casting into a river or lake is a transformative experience, a way to communicate with the natural landscape in a series of quiet whispers, followed by the exciting pulse of adrenaline when your line gets struck.

Below are a few of the best parks to enter that relationship. But first, a few details that apply to all parks. Some allow fishing all year, but many kick off fishing season in late May and shut it down in early November. Some have great ice fishing (we’ll cover those next fall). Each park has its own fishing regulations and license requirements—the best bet is to either check the park’s website or swing by the visitor center upon arrival.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 

Yellowstone

This banner national park has been protected since 1886 (first by the U.S. Army, then as a national park), so it is one of the most pristine places in the country. You can expect meandering rivers, majestic peaks, meadows blanketed with wild flowers—and, oh yes, the fishing is awesome. The Yellowstone River is a bucket-list item for anglers, but there are dozens of rivers, lakes, and streams, each with their own classic vibe. The park is home to 13 native fish; native cutthroat are the most prized species, but you’ll find plenty of rainbow and brown trout. Just know that you’ll be competing with grizzly bear, bald eagles, otter, and osprey for your catch. The park is a leader in non-toxic fishing tackle (lead-free), and there’s a new barbless hook rule to reduce handling time and injury to fish in heavily fished waters.

Great Smoky National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

The serene southern beauty of the Great Smokies is the stuff wars were fought over. This was the coveted country of westward expansion, and the stomping grounds of Daniel Boone. Plus it’s home to some of the best-kept secret fishing holes in the country. While there are generally a few streams that are off-limits (Lynn Camp Prong is closed upstream of its confluence with Thunderhead Prong), there are more than 2,000 miles of streams with brook, rainbow and brown trout, and smallmouth bass to be had, and no limit on rock bass. The park is known for its brook trout fishing; it wasn’t allowed from 1976 to 2006, but now the fish are plentiful. One rule to follow? Bait fishing is not permitted, as it can introduce non-native aquatic organisms that harm the native fish.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 

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While there are many easy-to-reach riverbanks and lakes in this expansive park, a short day hike takes you away from the crowds to blissfully quiet holes where chances are, only curious moose and elk will be there to witness your expert cast. You’ll find four major species of trout—brook, brown, rainbow, and cutthroat; prizes include the native greenback cutthroat and Colorado River cutthroat. The variety of options is fairly amazing, from the big lake fishing and catch-and-release fly-fishing to ice fishing. You’ll need a Colorado fishing license, but the good news is that kids 15 and younger fish for free. You can only use artificial lures; lead sinkers are discouraged. There are literally dozens of lakes, with some notable catch-and-release meccas like the Big Thompson River. The first weekend in June is free, with no license required.

Acadia National Park, Maine

This part of the country, namely Mount Desert Island, is home to some of the best fresh and saltwater fishing in the world. You can fish from April through September, and there’s ice fishing from January through March. You’ll need a Maine fishing license (if you are 16 or older) but no license is required for ocean fishing. Seal Cove Pond is famous for its alewives, chain pickerel, and yellow perch; head to Long Pond for landlocked salmon and smallmouth bass, and Half Moon Pond for brook trout. In July and August, you’ll have the best luck for trout and salmon in the cool, deep ponds and lakes. You’ll have better luck if you bring down-rigger gear for the hot summer weather.

Biscayne National Park, Florida 

Biscayne

No list of fishing spots in national parks is complete without Biscayne, located just a long cast from downtown Miami. The majority of the park’s 173,000 acres are covered by water. The colorful coral reefs are abundant with fish, so there’s fly-fishing, angling, and spear fishing galore. There are hundreds of types of fish to look for, from the small big-eye anchovies to great barracudas. You can take a free fisheries awareness class that teaches you specifics about fish identification, technique, and, of course, regulations. You’ll need a Florida State Recreational Saltwater Fishing License and plenty of sunscreen.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Hanging out here is like being in another world. The Roosevelt Elk are monstrously large and ferns reminiscent of a strange planet in Star Trek. Even the fishing seems bigger than life. In addition to fantastic salt and freshwater fishing, you can also troll for a variety of shellfish along the coast. You don’t need a license to fish here, unless you are going for salmon or steelhead from the Pacific Ocean shoreline. There are hundreds of lakes, streams, and rivers in the park, where one of the most beautiful regions is the Soleduck area with its own iconic hot springs for soaking after a long day of casting. With 37 native species of fish, there are five species of northwest salmon (chinook, chum, coho, pink, and sockeye) as well as steelhead (an anadromous variety of rainbow trout that splits its time between salt and fresh water and gets up to 30 pounds!). Steelies should be more plentiful with the removal of the dams on the Elwha River; the biggest dam removal project in North America has allowed the Elwha River to flow freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the first time in 100 years.

Travel: Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Strawberry Park Hot Springs | Steamboat, Colorado

Hot tubs have their recuperative merits (as well as time machine properties, apparently, and definitely more than a little skeeve factor), but hot springs really expose the hot tub as the synthetic approximation of a truly inspired experience.  Witness Strawberry Park Hot Springs, located an easy, ten-minute drive from the postcard-perfect town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Don’t expect a glitzy wellness retreat. No surprise, given that the area was settled in 1870 by dust-covered pioneers!  Instead of haute add-ons, this “public bathing facility” boasts a network of all-natural springs that rise out of the earth at 140 degrees F, and is then tempered by mixing with the cooler waters of Hot Springs Creek to a tolerable heat of around 104 degrees F.

Two stone-encased pools are nestled against the banks of the creek in a narrow valley dominated by a beautiful wall of foliage, all of it accessible via a series of stairs from the parking lot.  Modest changing rooms, bathrooms, picnic areas with chairs, and a communal tee-pee (yes, a tee-pee) add just the right measure of civility. The springs are the perfect place for an après soak for a few hours after you’ve spent the day hiking, mountain biking, cycling, horseback riding, or skiing in the acres-upon-acres of backcountry that dominates this section of the Rocky Mountain State (winter visitors take note: the last two miles are unpaved, and four-wheel-drive may be required to drive to the parking lot).

Those truly invested in the timeless experience can also bed down overnight at Strawberry Park, choosing from a variety of lodging options from barebones campsites and rustic cabins to covered wagons and a bona fide train caboose.  But the modest should take heed: after sunset Strawberry Park’s occupants tend to embrace the bathing-suit-optional policy. Thankfully, a lack of ambient light makes for all-consuming, unfettered views of the expansive star scape, which should give you something really interesting to watch. And unlike that sketchy hotel hot tub, you can take comfort in knowing that the pools are drained and cleaned every Thursday from 7 to 10 a.m.

Travel: Early Season Rock Climbing Destinations

Winterval—the cold and miserable period in between seasons that tests your mental toughness and can break even the best of us.Not enough snow to ski, yet still too much snow and muck to rock climb. So what is a rock rat, sick of indoor climbing walls, to do? Pack your bags and set out on a road trip to one of these destinations, each of which will deliver the “Sun’s Out, Gun’s Out” goods when your hometown crag is stuck in limbo.

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Red Rock, Nevada

Home to the annual Red Rock Rendezvous held in early spring, this desert sandstone and limestone oasis outside of Las Vegas offers good climbing year round. Cheap airfare, camping options, abundant affordable lodging, and a vibrant nightlife close at hand all make Red Rock an extremely popular climbing destination for good reason. With a mix of bouldering, steep and tightly bolted sport climbing faces, moderate trad multi-pitch routes, and cracks that eat up pro, there is something for everyone here. Short approaches and bolted anchors on popular routes not only quicken the pace to accommodate multiple parties but make most climbs relatively low on the commitment scale. Red Rock is just plain fun.

Indian Creek, Utah

Even though the powder may still be falling in the Wasatch, the desert towers and Wingate sandstone cliffs a short drive from Moab are basking in the warm spring sun. Better known as the crack climbing capital of the world, Indian Creek is a true test for anyone who calls themselves a climber—with most vertical sandstone splitters starting at 5.10 or higher. Pack a bag with plenty of hand tape, high-top shoes, long-sleeve shirts, and a big rack o’ cams, then get ready to jam your winterval blues away on these classic crack routes. Beware, as you may just receive a physical and emotional beating instead.

New River Gorge, West Virginia

Within the 63,000 acres of New River Gorge National River, over 1,400 established rock routes sit waiting for you. The cliffs at “The New” range from 30 to 120 feet in height, with a nice mix of both face and crack routes. Many high-level climbers head to West Virginia in the spring to train for the upcoming season, as the majority of routes fall in the 5.10-5.12 range. With an abundance of camping options, it is easy to see why dirtbags flock here by the vanload.

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

It is hard to say whether people come to “The Red” primarily for Miguel’s pizza and climber-only campground community or for the actual climbing itself. Overhanging, juggy sandstone delights of all levels are spread across six major regions with approximately 50 climbing sites on both public and private land. Access normally begins at an unmarked trail and with many of the routes unnamed or unrated, Red climbing is truly an adventure in itself.

How-To: Conditioning For Spring Hikes

Just about anybody can get out and hike, but it’s more fun if there’s a spring in your step and easy rhythm to your breathing.Whether you are planning on an after-work jaunt or multi-day trek, here are some tips on getting in shape. No excuses!

1. Increase Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Nothing gets you in shape for walking better than walking. The critical part is getting out. Plan on 20 minutes a day, three days a week. Your cardiovascular fitness increases according to the level of intensity of your workouts—with the fastest gains being when you are pushing at about 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. (Check your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220—it is not an exact formula, but it will give you a good ballpark). In layman’s terms, you should walk fast enough that you’re winded, but not exhausted. Practices walking at a brisk pace, never pushing so hard that you have to stop. Take your first 20-minute walk on a flat course (around the block, or at a local track). Then start looking for hills. Determine your course, and then go ahead and walk. Once you are comfortable going two to four miles, add a backpack with five to 10 pounds to get your back used to carrying weight.

2. Flexibility Training

Stretching can be done anytime—before you exercise, afterwards, or for five minutes in the morning and five minutes before you go to bed. Stretching is supposed to help prevent injuries, so don’t force it. Stretch four to five times a week for the best results. Begin your stretches with mild tension (about 10 to 15 seconds) and then stop and hold the position. Hold the stretch for another 15 seconds—and don’t forget to breathe.  Hikers should concentrate on stretches for their calves, groin, hamstrings, and shoulders.

3. Strength Training

If you have access to a gym, start working on leg and hip muscles. You’ll also need to concentrate on muscles in your back, core, and shoulders. Leg presses are good as they work your abs and buttocks too. Abdominal crunches are something you can do at home or at the gym. Concentrate on your stomach muscles when you do these, and keep them up until your abs burn. Pull-ups are also a great way to increase back strength for carrying a pack. Start with your palms facing away from you, and don’t lower down so far as to straighten out your elbows. For each exercise, do three reps of 10.

Travel: Exploring Petra

Petra stands as one of the New Wonders of the World and a must-see on the list of anyone visiting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. You can dedicate days of your itinerary to exploring the intricate maze of archeological wonders—but surprisingly you can also get in some pretty serious hiking. Although the traditional Siq (Arabic for canyon) approach is a memorable way to first lay eyes on the rose-colored Treasury façade (an image immortalized in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, even better is a bird’s eye view that you will likely have all to yourself. So grab a small daypack and plenty of water, pick up a guide or contoured map of Petra from one of the stalls near the entrance gate (very little is sign-posted, so a map is essential), and get ready for some Harrison Ford-worthy tomb exploration.

Petra

The Bedoul Bedouin are Petra’s traditional guardians. Up until the site gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1985, the Bedoul made their homes in caves scattered amongst the ancient ruins. Today, Petra’s vast network of “secret” trails are remnant not only from Nabataean times, but more recent decades when Bedoul herded their goats and sheep in and around the rocky cliffs that frame the monuments.

There are lots of secret entrances into Petra, but one of the best takes you high above the canyon for a bird’s eye view. Leaving the main tourist trail almost immediately, you clamber over red sandstone boulders and precariously teeter along cliff edges.  If you weren’t winded after this 1.5-mile hike up the back way into Petra, then the Hellenistic Treasury facade shining in the morning sun 256 feet below will take your breath away. Continue your morning hike past the High Place of Sacrifice, with expansive views across to the Amphitheatre and Royal Tombs, then down along the Lion Monument and multi-colored tombs of Wadi Farasa that beckon you to explore inside and escape the midday sun’s blaring rays.

Petra

After a brief break for some lunch and cold drinks, don’t miss the more than 800-step hike up an ancient path cut into the mountainside, which leads to the Monastery. It’s worth dodging donkeys laden with cases of bottled water and endless sales pitches from the small stall owners hawking jewelry and camel sculptures. Similar in design to the Treasury but far bigger, the majestic Monastery facade is best enjoyed sipping tea or a cold mint lemonade at the cave stall across the vast courtyard. If you can swing it, follow the “Best View” signs to one of several lookouts to watch the sun set behind Jebel Haroun and join the debate about which view is actually the best (don’t worry—there are no real losers). Hike back down to catch Petra by Night, where thousands of candles arranged in paper bags light up the Treasury, and you’re transcended by traditional Arabic music to a place that feels as timeless as the surrounding landscape.

Petra