Social Media Distribution for Content Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide


“If you build it, he will come.”

Upon hearing that call, Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams” is inspired to construct a new baseball diamond on his land – because if he builds it, players will show up. And they do. Upon building the field of dreams, ghosts of baseball greats magically arrive to play and recruit others.

It’s a heartwarming story. But aside from being an intriguing Hollywood screenplay, it bears little resemblance to real life.

In reality, Universal Studios spent approximately $15 million dollars to produce “Field of Dreams.” Keeping in line with standard practice, it probably doled out an additional $7.5 million to market the movie to ensure that audiences showed up in theaters. When calculating marketing budgets for movies, studios generally estimate about 50 percent of the production cost – because without marketing and distribution, well, you might just be wasting $15 million!

If we look at content marketing programs through the lens of Hollywood movie production, then your content hub is your theater. You may be showing the most amazing movie ever produced, but if you don’t have a strategy for filling your theater, then your high-cost, high-production value content is going unseen and becoming wasted assets.

Content marketing isn’t “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, they will not come. Every marketer needs to remember this.

For this reason, digital distribution needs to be a critical component of every content marketing program. Investing in distribution can be heavy. It takes time and money to find, develop, and nurture an audience.

But it’s also not that difficult. Here are some actionable ideas for how to think about content marketing and distribution as an inseparable pair that belongs in the same budget.

Why paid social media distribution is necessary for content marketing

Now that we understand why distribution is important to content marketing success, one proven way to secure distribution budget is by having a solid strategy that illustrates how distribution will increase your content marketing ROI. Ready to start crafting your strategy? First, let’s get the lay of the land. When we think about content distribution, a few key digital channels come to mind:

  • Social networks: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Native advertising: Outbrain, Taboola, Nativo, Sharethrough
  • Media partners
  • Influencers

Today, let’s focus on social media.

Organic reach is dead. Long gone are the days when a brand or business could post something on social media and expect all their fans to see it, let alone engage with it.

Now, organic reach is at an all-time low; through our work with brands, we’re now seeing it hovering around 1.5-2 percent across platforms. It’s safe to say that social media is a pay-to-play world.

In addition, the amount of social sharing is essentially half of what it was in 2015, indicating that it’s a crowded, competitive world of content. So you not only need paid distribution; your content has to be unique enough to break through all the other blog posts, videos, infographics, and interactives vying for people’s attention.

The good news is that social media targeting has improved significantly. Whether you’re going after a lookalike audience by geography or interest, or defining a completely new audience, stronger targeting abilities can help you distribute your content marketing to your desired niche.

The need for mapping content to the buyer journey

It’s important to remember that we’re coming in, uninvited, to our consumers’ worlds. We need to be the best party guest ever! We need to show up and ask questions and tell jokes before we ever start talking about ourselves or what we’re selling. We need to treat our customers like humans and actually get invited into their world to effectively nurture them as leads.

At the end of the day, we’re using content marketing to drive business. But to do this, we need a robust content strategy that takes into account every step of the buyer journey. We need to define the furthest reaches of our brand’s storytelling and align it to what our audience cares about. This way, we’ll have relevant points for building relationships with consumers, no matter where they are in their journeys.

For example, if we’re a beauty brand and all we really want to say is, “Buy our lipstick!” what’s a story one step out from that? Perhaps it’s: “Experimenting with makeup is so much fun!” And what’s a story even further away from our core product message? Maybe it’s, “You are unique and therefore beautiful.” We should be making content against all three pillars. Our goal is to grab the attention of the people furthest away from purchase and nurture them from “You are unique and therefore beautiful” content to “Buy our lipstick!” content.

Lastly, redefine your content marketing funnel. How you would approach a product launch using television and print is not the same as how you would approach a product launch on social media. Remember, when we show up, we can’t just start talking about our product. We need to nurture our audience to a place where they are ready for product content. Everything we create has to have a consumer-first lens on it, especially when we’re vying for attention on Instagram with friends, family, dog photos, other brands, crushes, and Stories.

The competition is fierce.

How to build a social media distribution strategy for content marketing

Step 1: Find your audience

Where, exactly, is your audience? What social media channels are they on? These are all important questions to ask ourselves before we show up to the party.

Begin by looking at statistics to find out if your target is on the platform. Dig into reports and studies. Look at the audience targeting features on each platform. For example, try Facebook Audience Insights to figure out who your current Facebook audience is and where you can find your target audience.



Once you’ve figured out where they are, determine what they’re doing on that platform. What do they like? With what content and brands do they engage? Who is best-in-class in and out of your category? Make sure you show up to the party ready to add value.

Step 2: Align the story with where your audience is in its journey

Remember, we’re trying to be a good party guest. We should create a range of content that feels in line with our audience’s mindset. If we have content designed to strike up a conversation with our audience, other content to drive trust and consideration, and content designed to drive direct response, our distribution strategy should take the same approach. We need to distribute the right content to the right people at the right time.

For example, if we’re targeting a new audience and we know they’re on LinkedIn, does it make sense to hit them immediately with a direct response product ad? No. Why? Because our audience is there to better themselves professionally, find work, or share content that makes them look smarter. And because they’re a new audience, they’re not familiar with us. How likely are they, really, to click on a bottom-of-funnel product ad? We’d be better off targeting them with a piece of editorial content that offers advice and thought leadership on how they can become more successful in their roles.

Step 3: Match content formats to stories and channels

Once you’ve aligned your story with your audience’s mindset and platform realities, make sure the paid formats you’re using also line up.

For example, if you’re trying to promote brand awareness, make sure you’re using an awareness-driving format like an Instagram story or Facebook Canvas. If you’re trying to drive traffic, use a traffic driver like a Pinterest promoted pin. Looking for direct response? Try a lead generation ad on LinkedIn or an app download card on Twitter.

Most social platforms have ad format guides to help you figure out how to match your business goals to actual ad formats. Taking a portfolio approach to distribution and promoting content across the funnel will help us figure out what our audience actually cares about.



How to measure distribution success

Forget about “likes.”

Much like building an integrated marketing strategy, it’s important to align distribution tactics with marketing objectives and, ultimately, business goals. Determine which KPIs you’ll track at each stage of the funnel and make sure they’re progressive and building upon the previous ones. Review the analytics on a weekly basis (at a minimum) and determine how to optimize your strategy at each part of the funnel to prompt users toward action.

Here’s one way to look at your funnel: In 2009, Comscore reported that only around 8 percent of people on the Internet account for 85 percent of all clicks on banner ads. In 2016, Facebook found a similar thing happening on its platform: The number of people who were actually engaging with content (with likes, clicks, shares, and comments) was extremely low, compared to the people aimlessly scrolling through their feeds. Through 500 brand studies, Facebook found that when people spent more time with a piece of content or ad on Facebook, the more likely they were to remember it. This resulted in an entirely new metric on the platform: estimated ad recall lift based on time spent with the ad.

We use this example as a proxy, since Facebook is a behemoth and can directionally give us a better sense of what’s happening across the internet. With this reality, plus the rise of video, advertisers are looking to attention-grabbing metrics to build large cookie pools and create starting points for top-of-funnel leads.

Grabbing attention and then retargeting or simply targeting with trust-building editorial content that drives to a hub can be an effective one-two punch to break through the noise and begin the process of getting invited into your customers’ worlds.



Once a user has come to your content hub, you can target them with more relevant, high-quality content – lower funnel content – and optimize accordingly.



Finally, once they’ve listened to your jokes and showed that they’re truly interested by engaging with your content, it’s probably okay to bring up your product and drive them to convert.



After all, you have been the best party guest, ever.

Jennifer Stenger is NewsCred’s VP of Business Development. Lydia Cox is a NewsCred Program Director.

Written by Lydia Cox and Jennifer Stenger for NewsCred and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by NewsCred

Q+A: Can I Mention My Products in My Content Marketing?


“Ask a Content Marketer” is a column on NewsCred Insights where we answer your questions about content marketing. Got a question? Email us at or reach out on Twitter @NewsCred and we’ll find the appropriate expert to answer. We won’t include your name or company without your permission.

Q. Is it okay for me to mention my products in my content marketing?

A. Short answer: sometimes.

Long answer: The more you mention your products, the more you run the risk of losing the trust and interest of your audience. The key to successful content marketing is providing customers and potential customers with the information they’re seeking. To build an ongoing relationship with your audience, you need to provide value without coming across as overly promotional.

It’s fine to mention your product or brand in your content from time to time – but always ask whether its primary purpose is to provide value to your customer or to you. If it’s you, then you might be in advertorial realm and you should probably rethink your decision.

Suppose you’re a denim company creating a listicle about the top 10 ways to wear a jean jacket. If you’re including a number of products and one of them is yours, that would be fine. But if the listicle only features your brand’s products and just includes quotes from people in your company, no one will trust it, even if it’s good content.

When in doubt, put yourselves in the mindset of your customers: Would you want to read the content you create? And would you trust it? That should be your ultimate barometer.

Additional resources:

Meghan Catucci is a Content Strategist at NewsCred.


Written by Meghan Catucci for NewsCred and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by NewsCred

Ten Mile Creek White Water Park – White Water Paddling

Image for Ten Mile Creek White Water Park


Just an hour and some change from downtown Denver, here’s another man-made playspot that is the ultimate in park-and-play convenience. Plus here at Ten Mile, you’ll paddle under the watch of Mount Royal in one of the coolest mountain towns in the state.

What Makes It Great

If you’re up for it, you can put in up the road below the bridge at Officers Gulch and run the Class 4 creek down to the playhole. Spend some time here soaking in the sun and practice your latest play moves.

Then, turn your bow downstream and finish up the last mile of the creek, emptying out into the Dillon Reservoir. It’s easy to run a shuttle or take the bus back to your car.

This is a sporty little playspot that you’ll often have to yourself, especially during the week. The season is a little finicky…reliant on spring snow melt and varying greatly with temperature.

The public play hole is well marked with great spectator access.

Who is Going to Love It

This is a great place for those able to maneuver Class 4 water and want to practice some moves.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Park in the public parking lot just off exit 201 (second Frisco exit off I-70) or across the street on Forest Drive at Ten Mile Creek Kayaks. Stop in and say "hello" to 'Mountain Matti Wade' and buy something from his shop to help support your local specialty paddlesports retailer! In exchange, he can give you all the beta on flows and hazards.

Written by Aaron Bible for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Aaron Bible

Tradewater River – Flatwater Paddling

20170629_Kentucky_Tradewater River_Kayaking


As a tributary of the Ohio River, the Tradewater River flows from Hopkinsville to Sturgis, Kentucky, and access is available at several points throughout its 136-mile length. The more popular section are the areas closest to Hopkinsville and Sturgis, but there are many, many stretches of river to enjoy if you’re willing to search for ramps or find a bridge to put in at.

What Makes It Great

Western Kentucky is covered in meandering blueways, and while the Tradewater River may not be swift, it’s the perfect river to float on a lazy summer day.

Rising in Hopkinsville near the Tennessee border, the Tradewater flows north/northeast before meeting up with the Ohio River. The geology of the river is mostly Pennsylvanian limestone, so large, exposed cliffs between thickly wooded meadows and pastoral farmland are common sights.

Ecologically, the Tradewater is home to a variety of common game fish, including Kentucky spotted bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and catfish. If you pay attention during your float, you can also see spotted gar and alligator gar, which can grow up to five feet long and surface often.

The Tradewater is navigable with just about any boat. Whether you take a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard, any beginner will be able to negotiate the occasional choppy section with confidence while moving around the river banks to look for deer, turkey, or to catch fish.

Certain sections of the Tradewater can get crowded during summer weekends, but anyone can avoid the crowds by finding a public boat ramp away from the canoe rental companies that set up shop on different parts of the river.

Who is Going to Love It

For anyone who loves a long summer day on the river, the Tradewater is a solid destination to drink something cold and relax down a quiet and scenic river. This float is definitely family and beginner-friendly, as well. It’s easy to find fun rope swings in deep swimming holes, small waterfalls, feeder creeks, and other places to stop and explore.

For conventional and fly anglers, the Tradewater is a great river to target bass, the plethora of brightly colored sunfish species, or just drag live bait on the bottom to pick a fight with a true river monster: the channel catfish.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

A lot of great folks have worked very hard to preserve large sections of the Tradewater, but there are still a lot of private farms and homes, so be careful to responsibly put-in, take-out, and explore on public land only, avoiding the private property.

Written by Charlie Morgan for RootsRated in partnership with Kentucky Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by forrestvsforest

Top 10 Activities for a Rainy Day

Top 10 Activities for a Rainy Day
Written by Shenandoah County Tourism for Shenandoah County.

1. Tour the local vineyard: Cozy up on the couch near the fireplace on a rainy day as you take in some live music at one of the many local vineyards in Shenandoah County. In fact, Shenandoah County is home to 7 vineyards including Cave Ridge Vineyards, Cedar Creek Vineyard, Muse Vineyards, North Mountain Vineyards, Shenandoah Vineyards, The Winery at Kindred Pointe, and Wolf Gap Vineyards. If wine isn't your thing, the Winery at Kindred Pointe also offers their own ciders or be sure to try one of the area's local craft breweries such as Swover Creek Farm Brewery or the Woodstock Brewhouse.

2. Shenandoah Caverns: No matter the weather outside, Shenandoah Caverns is always a mild, 55 degrees underground. In addition to the world famous "bacon formation" stalactites, admission to the Caverns also includes admission to 3 other attractions: Main Street of Yesteryear, The Yellow Barn and American Celebration on Parade. This kitschy museum features parade floats from former Rose Bowl parades, Presidential Inaugurations, Thanksgiving Day Parades and more.

3. Duck Pin Bowling: Enjoy a little piece of nostalgia with a game of wooden duck pin bowling complete with original stadium style seating and old wooden tracks to return the balls.

4. Lunch at Woodstock Garden Cafe in Fort Valley Nursery: You'll forget it's raining outside with the colorful flowers and garden decor within the Garden Cafe. Enjoy a sandwich or salad made with locally sourced ingredients including their own farm, fresh pork specialties.

5. Woodstock Community Theatre: Where else can you still catch the latest blockbusters for under $10 a person?

6. Shop the O Shenandoah County Artisan Trail: With over 75 sites along the O Shenandoah County Artisan Trail, there is something to suit everyone. Find handcrafted treasures, explore artisan studios, savor locally grown foods and meet some wonderful people along the way.

7. A meal at Southern Kitchen: Nothing warms the soul on a rainy day like some good ol' southern cooking and the fried chicken at Southern Kitchen is to die for! They're also well known for their Virginia peanut soup.

8. Virginia Museum of the Civil War: This museum tells the story of the Civil War focusing on Virginia and the Battle of New Market where 257 cadets from Virginia Military Institute participated in the battle. This story is accounted in the blockbuster film, The Field of Lost Shoes.

9. The Edinburg Mill: The area's best kept secret, this museum features an abundance of history under one roof. Displays range from the agricultural history in the valley, fashion, civil war, and even an impressive collection of Red Cross memorabilia.

10. Route 11 Potato Chips: Visitors can watch as the chips are made before their eyes through the clear glass walls of the factory and sample each of their delicious flavors made from Virginia grown potatoes.

Written by Shenandoah County Tourism for Shenandoah County and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Shenandoah County Tour

A Guide to Marion, Virginia: The Best Place to Spend a Long Weekend Off the AT


Some of the most scenic sections of the Appalachian Trail run through Southwest Virginia. But sometimes, even the most dedicated hikers need a break from the trail. Marion, Virginia, provides everything a wary hiker could need—and plenty of amenities for those just looking to spend a day or two on the trail. Even if the Appalachian Trail isn’t on your radar, Marion is a unique spot for a weekend escape in scenic Southwest Virginia. From historic charm to first-rate dining, the area makes a great home base whether you’re hiking from Georgia to Maine or simply looking for a quick weekend getaway.

There’s a Shower—A Free One

Mount Rogers is just one of the draws of Southwest Virginia.
Mount Rogers is just one of the draws of Southwest Virginia.

Ryan Somma

For those stepping off the trail and back into society, spiffing up your personal hygiene is probably the first step to take for most hikers. Not only is Mount Rogers, just 15 minutes from downtown Marion, but it sports a free outdoor shower specifically for AT hikers just steps from the trail and a few paces from the visitor center proper. For those staying in Marion for the weekend, the Mount Rogers is part of a pretty and rhododendron-filled segment of the trail, which an excellent option for a challenging day hike. Wondering how you’ll get from Mount Rogers to town? Don’t—there’s a shuttle that runs directly between the visitor center and Marion several times each day and it’ll only set you back 50 cents.

Culture and History Galore

Both history buffs and culture junkies will be happy in Marion. Not far from Marion is historic Saltville, once a bustling company town designed around the area’s salt reserves. Not only can you visit spots where the brine distilling took place and learn all about the process, you can also take a spin through Saltville’s Museum of the Middle Appalachians. Here the entirety of the area’s prehistoric past is at your fingertips.

Once your history-filled daytime adventures are over, catch a show at the architecturally amazing Lincoln Theatre in downtown Marion. One of very few Mayan Revival Art Deco Theaters left in the States, it offers up performing arts programming all year. You can catch everything from renditions of Aladdin to local musicians singing their hearts out on this stage.

A Good Meal

Whether you’re taking a break from dehydrated food on the trail or you’re looking to indulge during your getaway, good grub is essential and Marion delivers. And what would a southern experience be without proper barbeque? Wolfe’s is where you have to go if you’ve got finger lickin’ sauces, steaming mac and cheese, and traditional cornbread on the brain. If you want to cozy up to a little lunch joint alongside Marion locals, Sister’s Cafe is the spot. Owned and operated by longtime residents and serving up delicious coffee and tea to boot, you could easily kick back here for a couple of hours and just watch people go by.

Endless Adventures

The Back of the Dragon route between Marion and Tazewell is one of the area’s most scenic drives.
The Back of the Dragon route between Marion and Tazewell is one of the area’s most scenic drives.

Virginia State Parks

Plenty of places in Southwest Virginia are said to be the sites of paranormal activity. In Marion there’s the Abijah Thomas House, otherwise known as the Octagon House. An architectural feat that was briefly popular in the 1850s, the stop sign-shaped house is composed of bricks build by slaves on the property. There’s said to be ghosts floating around the house, particularly in the storage room that locals refer to as the "dark room."

For those who prefer to get their thrills in the "real world," plan to take a trip along the Back of the Dragon route between Marion and Tazewell—by motorcycle if you can. The twisty and turning road is a fun one to drive and serves up scenic views that are hard to beat all along the way.

Wine and Work

Whether you want to whet your whistle or put a few bucks in your pocket before you get back on the trail, you can do either or both at Davis Valley Winery near Marion. Although hikers can stop by and pick grapes for a few days to earn some extra money, the best thing about the winery is that it’s no longer just a winery these days. They’ve moved into distilling whiskey, vodka, and moonshine as well, so if you’ve got a crew with diverse tastes, anyone and everyone will be able to find something they like here. Even if you don’t drink, the hilltop scenery makes for a pretty place to spend a lazy day.

Supremely Cozy Digs

If you’re going to spring for a weekend off the trail, go ahead and treat yourself to some sweet digs that will put your adored tent to shame. The General Francis Marion Hotel is in a central downtown location and is, of course, titled after the town’s namesake itself. However, if you want something a little more down-to-earth feeling, shack up at the Collins House Inn. This sweet bed and breakfast is run by two ex-Midwesterners and leaves you feeling like you’ve just spent a weekend at your sweet southern grandmother’s house.

Written by Cinnamon Janzer for RootsRated in partnership with Southwest Virginia and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Virginia State Parks

15 of the Most Iconic Hikes in the World


The planet is crisscrossed with epic trails, from the Alps to the Andes. There are snowy summit trips for fleet-footed peak-baggers, long and leisurely rambles for wildlife lovers, and everything in between. While the options are almost infinite, here are a few epic hikes to add to that ever-expanding life list.

1. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

View this post on Instagram

Dette er soloppgangen vi fikk i det vi passerte Stella Point på vei til Kilimanjaro i forgårs 13.02.18…😍 Da er vi ca 40 minutter fra Afrikas tak, og det er tungt for folk flest å bare finne fram kameraet… Heldigvis har jeg for vane å fange disse magiske øyeblikkene, så minnene blir foreviget og kanskje havner i en ramme…👍 Dette bildet er rett fra kameraet mitt, helt uten noe form for filter eller justering…👍 Er det rart rart jeg driver med dette? Ps. Ny tur på gang 18.juli og 2.januar😉 . #eventyrturer #kilimanjaro #mountain #mountainlovers #mountainlocals #thegreatoutdoors #mittfriluftsliv #friluftsliv #utemagasinet #hektapåtur #fjelltid #utno #liveterbestute #dreamchasersnature #welcometonature #exploringglobe #properadventure #nature #discoverer #dreambig #earthpix #7summits #turistforeningen #tanzania #africa #machame #machameroute #stellapoint

A post shared by Tommy Steinsland 🇳🇴 (@eventyrturer) on

One of the planet’s Seven Summits, 19,341-foot Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain on Earth—and Africa’s loftiest peak. Despite the distinction, the glaciated summit is accessible courtesy of a number of a non-technical routes, leading climbers through five distinctly different climate zones. On the path to Uhuru Peak, trekkers traverse a lowland rainforest inhabited by colobus and blue monkeys, ascend the scrubby montane moorland of the Shira Plateau, cross hulking glaciers, and catch glimpses of the megafauna-loaded grasslands of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. At basecamp, vividly colored tents dot an unearthly moonscape, and climbers rest in the shadow of toothy 16,893-foot Mawenzi.

2. Table Mountain, South Africa

While the flat-topped mesa soaring above Cape Town is accessible by cable-car, the climb to the apex of 3,569-foot Table Mountain is one of the planet’s most spectacular treks—and a must-do for a visit to this dynamic city. Routes to the top of the 500 million-year-old massif treat ascending climbers to panoramic vistas of the pointed peaks of the Twelve Apostles, the azure water of Camps Bay, knobby Lion’s Head, and Cape Town’s bustling City Bowl. There are plenty of half-day routes to the mesa’s highest point, Maclear’s Beacon, including the three-hour slog through Skeleton Gorge, allowing hikers to encounter Cape dwarf chameleons, stealthy caracals, and vibrantly colored sunbirds. The climb can also be done as a multi-day trip along the Cape of Good Hope Trail or the Hoerikwaggo Trail, beginning at Cape Point.

3. Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand

Meaning "the long pathway," in Maori, New Zealand’s 1,864-mile Te Araroa Trail is the Kiwi version of America’s Appalachian Trail. Bookended by the Pacific Ocean, between Cape Regina and Bluff, the route runs through the heart of New Zealand, traversing both North and South islands and leading backpackers through a staggering diversity of landscapes: sun-drenched coastlines, subtropical rainforests, snow-dusted alpine passes, and river-braided glacial valleys. The epic trek also showcases many of New Zealand’s geological gems, including the Southern Alps, famed backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the still-active Tongariro volcano.

4. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Besides Everest, the most idolized Himalayan foray is Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit. The nearly 130-mile route horseshoes the Annapurna range’s sea of glaciated summits, capped by 26,545-foot Annapurna I. The high-altitude tour takes hardy trekkers through highlands terraced with rice paddies, across surging whitewater rivers, through shadowy rhododendron forests, over otherworldly mountain passes, and past Buddhist gompas and Hindu shrines. While backpackers on the circuit must tackle challenges like 17,768-foot Thorung La, the route is dotted with cozy tea houses affording creature comforts like brief but heavenly hot showers and steaming plates of dal bhat, a traditional meal of steamed rice and cooked lentil soup.

5. John Muir Trail, California

Named for legendary naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, the John Muir Trail strings together two of California’s most spectacular natural wonders: the Yosemite Valley and 14,496-foot Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. Tracing the spine of the High Sierra, the 211-mile route moseys through three national parks and two federally designated wildernesses, leading hikers through a landscape of high peaks and passes, glassy alpine lakes, and sun-drenched mountain meadows. The trail skirts Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, and showcases natural wonders like the Devil’s Postpile National Monument and Evolution Basin in Kings Canyon National Park. Plus, hikers have ample opportunity to encounter black bears, mule deer, and curious marmots along the route.

6. Four Pass Loop, Colorado

The most photographed spot in Colorado, the snow-stripped twin peaks of the Maroon Bells are best celebrated on the epic Four Pass Loop through the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness. The aptly amed 26-mile circuit begins at turquoise-toned Maroon Lake, just west of Aspen, and takes backpackers over four alpine passes each higher than 12,000 feet, across airy meadows dusted with wildflowers, through spruce forests and copses of white-barked aspen, and past backcountry waterfalls and peak-framed lakes. Besides the Maroon Bells, the Elk Mountains sampler also provides trekkers the chance to gape at a handful of celestial fourteeners, including Pyramid Peak and Snowmass Mountain.

7. Beara Way, Ireland

Ringing Ireland’s wind-pummeled Beara Peninsula, a 48-mile sliver of land bisected by the Caha and Slieve Miskish mountains, the Beara Way provides a quintessential taste of the Emerald Isle and forms part of Ireland’s longest hiking trail, the Beara-Breifne Way. The 122-mile trek cobbles together bucolic country lanes, highland tracks, and ancient roads, offering a glimpse of the peninsula’s colorful past. Following the path taken by Beara’s last chieftain, Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, as he fled hotly pursuing Elizabethan troops in 1603, the Beara Way takes trekkers past Neolithic and Bronze Age sites, through charming towns, and over craggy highlands. Fortunately, the lung-taxing climbs and knee-grating descents are greeted with panoramic vistas of the rugged coastline, including the shimmering waters of Bantry Bay, staging point for Theobald Wolfe Tone’s infamous but ill-fated 1786 rebellion.

8. Cotopaxi, Ecuador

One of the peaks in Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes, 19,347-foot Cotopaxi soars above the high Andean páramo of Cotopaxi National Park. Although the peak is the second highest in Ecuador—and one of the loftiest active volcanoes on the planet—Cotopaxi is scalable without prior mountaineering experience. Ropes, crampons, and ice axes are required to reach the snow-capped pinnacle, but with the help of local guides (and after a quick hands-on introduction to mountaineering), the crater-pocked peak is reachable for most reasonably fit trekkers. Along the way to the summit, hikers have the chance to spot wild horses, llamas, and spectacled bears (the ursine species credited with inspiring the fictional character Paddington).

9. Inca Trail, Peru

The most celebrated trek in South America, this Andean excursion takes hikers from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, the stone-hewn urban center crafted by the Incas during the 15th century, a World Heritage site since 1983. Along the way to Machu Picchu, the 24-mile trek follows paths forged by the Incas more than 500 years ago, meandering through cloud forests studded with 300 types of orchids, over three cloud-shrouded mountain passes, and past pre-Columbian ruins. Stashed away at 7,972 feet, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is also a biodiversity hotspot, serving as an ecological corridor linking the Andes, Sacred Valley, and Amazon, and affording trekkers the opportunity to spot 370 different types of bird, including mammoth Andean condors.

10. Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

Soaring above other peaks in Malaysian Borneo’s Crocker Range, 13,435-foot Mount Kinabalu is the loftiest summit in Southeast Asia. Gunung Kinabalu, as the peak is known in Malay, is also the country’s first World Heritage site, a global hotspot for flora and fauna. The mountain’s ecosystems harbor more than 5,000 types of plants, over 300 species of birds, and 100 different mammals. Along the path to the granite-tipped summit, which typically takes two to three days round-trip, lush lowland rainforests give way to cloud-bathed montane and coniferous forests, providing the chance to spot orangutans, Bornean gibbons, and long-tailed Bornean Treepies. The mountain’s six different vegetation zones also support a thousand different orchids and five endemic species of carnivorous pitcher plants, including the largest on earth, Nepenthes rajah.

11. Tour du Mont Blanc, Western Europe

While scaling 15,781-foot Mont Blanc requires extensive mountaineering knowhow, more casual hikers can still get an eyeful of Western Europe’s loftiest summit from three different countries—France, Italy, and Switzerland—on the Tour du Mont Blanc. The 105-mile route rings the entire snow-frosted massif, traipsing over seven alpine passes, past storybook alpine hamlets, along colossal glaciers, and through wildflower-freckled meadows. Besides the spellbinding scenery, the Tour du Mont Blanc also provides a snapshot of regional culture, taking hikers through historic locales like medieval Courmayeur. Best of all, while physically taxing, the route is scattered with cozy alpine huts, affording plenty of opportunity to swap freeze-dried fare for fondue.

12. Torres del Paine Circuit, Patagonia, Chile

View this post on Instagram

The classic Torres shot #TorresDelPaineCircuit

A post shared by Patagonia Adventure Cycling (@patagoniaadventurecycling) on

Towering above the guanaco-grazed steppes of Chilean Patagonia, the trio of granite pillars dubbed Torres del Paine comprise one of the most iconic massifs on earth. The blue-hued granite cathedral tops out at 10,656 feet and crowns Torres del Paine National Park, a former sheep estancia declared a World Heritage site in 1978. Backpackers can gape at the granite monoliths from every angle imaginable along on a circuit trek on the national park’s non-technical trails. The more heavily trafficked ‘W’ configuration can be done in less than four days, while the more extensive ‘O’ circuit, takes about a week. Despite the rugged landscape of glaciated granite peaks, raging rivers, and iceberg-strewn alpine lakes, the Torres del Paine circuit can be done without forgoing creature comforts by cobbling together a route linking the park’s cozy refugios.

13. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

View this post on Instagram

Take me to the mountaintop #kalalautrail #napalicoast #kauai

A post shared by Maxwell (@maxwellrcraig) on

Showcasing Kauai’s rugged Nā Pali Coast, where fluted mountains meld into the glistening Pacific Ocean, the Kalalau Trail is among the most spectacular coastal treks on earth. But, the 11-mile trek is no walk on the beach. Between Ke’e Beach and Kalalau Beach, the trail winds through five different valleys, across more than a half-dozen streams, and along precipitous cliff sides, including a vertiginous stretch aptly dubbed Crawler’s Ledge, for the hikers duly daunted by the 500-foot drop. Grit and determination are mandatory, but trekkers are rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific and gems like the 300-foot Hanakapi’ai Waterfall. While the 22-mile out-and-back trip can be done in a day, the route is scattered with stunning camping spots, like the area near 1,400-foot Hanakoa Falls, about halfway through the trek.

14. Mount Fuji, Japan

Located southwest of Tokyo, the solitary summit of 12,388-foot Mount Fuji is one of the planet’s most recognizable peaks. Dormant for just over 300 years, the snow-dusted stratovolcano has served as an artistic muse for centuries, revered as one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains. Religious pilgrims have been scaling the sacred mountain since ancient times, and the climb remains exceedingly popular. Climbing season for Mount Fuji only runs from the beginning of July to the end of August, but more than 300,000 trekkers make the approximately six-hour trip every year. While there are celestial views on the way to the summit, the trek has the distinction of being one of the few climbs on the planet that is more cultural experience than wilderness excursion. Each of the four routes to the top offers mountain huts peddling food and drinks, and there is even a post office at the summit where you can drop a postcard to a lucky recipient.

15. Sunshine Coast Trail, British Columbia

Rambling along the wild Sunshine Coast in southwest British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast Trail is a less-frequented alternative to the West Coast Trail. Built entirely by volunteers and maintained by the non-profit Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society, the 112-mile trail ambles from Desolation Sound to Saltery Bay, taking trekkers through old growth rainforests roamed by black bears, grey wolves, and cougars. Wildlife watchers also have the chance to spot the blubbery bodies of Stellar sea lions and harbor seals along coastal stretches of the trail, and the route’s highest point—4,821-foot Mount Troutbridge—is a hotspot for seafaring marbled murrelets. Best of all, the Sunshine Coast Trail is Canada’s only free hut-to-hut track, with no reservations or permits required.

Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Stig Nygaard

The 7 Best Coffee Shops in Kentucky (According the Cyclists)


The relationship between cycling and coffee goes back decades. In the 1960s, an Italian espresso machine company actually sponsored a pro cycling team, and in the 1980s it became trendy for riders in the Tour de France to down java before stages of the race. It seems cyclists have always known that a jolt of caffeine provides great fuel for a ride. If you plan a cycling tour of Kentucky, you can map out stops at several coffee shops that are very welcoming to riders.

We asked cyclists to share some of their favorite Kentucky coffee shops, ranging from the flatter terrain in the western part of the state, with its lakes and country roads, to the high, beautiful Appalachian Mountains in the east.

Etcetera Coffeehouse

Etcetera Coffeehouse in Paducah offers excellent fair trade organic coffee in two locations— Lower Town and downtown. The menu offers many standard options, such as fancy coffee and tea drinks and yerba mate, but it also includes bubble tea, smoothies, shakes, hot chocolates, Blue Sky sodas and even locally sourced apple cider. If you really want to spice up your morning ride, try the Mayan Mocha, a latte with dark chocolate, honey, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. At the downtown Sixth Street store, you can also get the Bike Fuel blend produced by Just Coffee Cooperative in Madison, Wisc. It combines coffees from Ethiopia and Uganda with Just Coffee’s Sumatran coffee to create a sweet blend with citrus and floral notes. For added fuel, the shop also serves bagels, oatmeal, yogurt bowls, and even quiche.

The Cabin Coffee & Cafe

Housed in a historic log cabin, The Cabin Coffee & Cafe in Cadiz offers traditional coffee offerings, along with homemade hot breakfasts, lunches and desserts. The Cabin’s mocha shakes will perk you up, or they’re available without espresso. Another favorite is the Artisan Grilled Cheese Sandwich, which includes four types of cheeses, and you can add bacon or tomato. If you ride with a big group, this is good destination, as they actually like serving large parties.

Red Hot Roasters

After a calorie-burning ride, indulge in the delicious coffee drinks at Red Hot Roasters, which has two locations in Louisville. After your ride, take a seat on the large deck and sip on a Breeders’ Cup Mocharetto, which blends dark chocolate and Amaretto and is topped with Amaretto whipped cream. Another tasty treat is the Derby Mint Julep Mocha, which has mint and chocolate topped with bourbon whipped cream. The Main Street location is near Waterfront Park, which connects to the Louisville Loop, a paved trail that circles the city.

Fresh Coffee Pastries and More

One of Kentucky’s main cycling events is the Old Kentucky Home Tour, in which cyclists ride from Louisville to Bardstown and back. When you’re in Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World, you’ll naturally want to take a distillery tour or two. But, for coffee you should check out Fresh Coffee, Pastries and More in the heart of historic downtown. It serves Good Folks Coffee, which is based in Louisville, and the menu, which changes daily, includes pastries and sandwiches.

Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe

[Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe]( in Frankfort offers organic coffee, teas, beer, wine, cocktails and food, and its listening room draws nationally touring music artists. It’s a great destination for cyclists competing in the Horsey Hundred, the annual 100-mile ride across four Kentucky counties. At Kentucky Coffeetree you can order homemade and Kentucky Proud soups, salads, paninis, bratwurst, nachos and more. When you’re there, try the Southwestern Black Bean Corn and Salsa Wrap.


Stop by Broomwagon in Lexington to tune up your bike and fuel your body. This combination bike shop and cafe sells all types of bikes and offers a full range of parts, equipment and services. The cafe serves just about any coffee or tea drink you can imagine, and the menu includes brunch offerings, sandwiches, wraps, milkshakes and smoothies, all day. Try a BLT, with bacon, spinach, tomato, grilled onion, sriracha mayo grilled on sourdough or as a wrap. Or a Breakfast Wrap with two fried local eggs, tomato, mozzarella grilled in a flour tortilla. In the evening, the Broomwagon hosts live music, live comedy and trivia.

Roasted Appalachia

Located in an old train station in far eastern Kentucky, Roasted Appalachia is right across from the University of Pikeville. It serves coffee from Sunergos, a micro roastery in Louisville, and the menu includes breakfast and lunch. Try the Italian Panini with smoked ham, salami, tomato pesto, Italian dressing, provolone cheese, romaine leaves and sliced tomatoes on sundried tomato swirl bread. Check out the sweets selection, including German roasted pecans, old fashioned kettle fudge and baklava.

Written by Lisa Hornung for RootsRated Media in partnership with Kentucky Tourism.

Featured image provided by Ruth Außenhofer

Are You Addicted to Nature?


Anyone active in the outdoors community around Chattanooga has likely heard of Randy Wharton. The founder of Chattanooga-based nonprofit Wild Trails is also an ultramarathon trail runner, long-distance paddleboarder, and lifelong outdoor adventure seeker.

His love of nature is a given, but Wharton offers some extreme descriptions for his passion for the outdoors and the lifestyle he’s created around it, which he calls "radical health."

"When you’re in this kind of shape there isn’t really a day where you couldn’t wake up and go run 30 miles," he says. “I do this stuff every day, [but] not because I want to stay healthy. It’s kind of like when somebody has gotten addicted to heroin. Certain addictions are just impossible to break, and [addiction to nature] is just like that. It’s hard for somebody who has never experienced radical health to know how it feels.”

"There’s a connection with nature that’s such a huge part of the experience," Wharton adds. “I’m certain there’s no way it would be the same if I ran 10 miles on city streets. There’s an energy that’s out there in nature that you just don’t get when you’re in the city. It’s an amazing feeling.”

While not everyone can run 30 miles at any given moment like Wharton, most outdoor enthusiasts can relate to the mental and physical connection to, or even craving for, nature. And it turns out, there’s a name for it: biophilia.

As our increasingly urbanized cultures across the globe become more stressed out, depressed, and addicted to technology, more and more scientific studies are making correlations between nature exposure and benefits to both physical and emotional health. And when we lose our nature fix, we often feel crummy or crabby.

If this sounds familiar, here’s a handy set of reference questions to ask yourself and find out—are you addicted to nature?

If you find yourself more stressed out if you don’t get your trail time … you might be addicted to nature.

It’s not just the physical exercise that makes you feel good: It’s the simple act of being outside.

Jeff Bartlett

"Even after just 15 minutes of being outside, our brains and bodies start to respond [and] people experience a boost in well being," says journalist Florence Williams, who has written extensively about the science behind nature’s benefits. “Our blood pressure goes down, our heart rate variability changes in a way that’s more resilient to stress, and our cortisol levels—our stress hormones—can decrease.”

This de-stressing is attributed to factors beyond the positive effects of exercise. Consider a study in which researchers in Japan sent groups of people to walk in the forest and other groups to walk in the city, and measured the effects on both. The nature walkers had markedly higher positive benefits and lowered stress levels than the city walkers, leading researchers to theorize that it was the immersion in nature that led to the benefits. So if you’re feeling stressed out, you may just need some nature in your system to chill.

If you find yourself feeling depressed after being stuck inside all week … you might be addicted to nature.

Feeling down? Being outside is connected to lowered levels of depression and stress.

Mitchel Jones

While working on her recent book, _The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creativ_e, Williams spent time with researchers in Finland whose studies showed that people who spend at least five hours a month in nature are able to better resist and ward off mild depression. According to the researchers, that’s the recommended monthly minimum for maintaining emotional health, but more is generally better.

"Nature benefits exist on a dose curve," Williams explains. “So the benefits depend on how much nature you have.”

"Five hours a month isn’t very much in my book," she adds. “I need to go out every day, so I think there’s some individual variability.”

In other words, if you’re in the "addicted to nature" category, you likely need to get outside more to stay emotionally healthy.

If your creativity and focus plummet if you haven’t been breathing clean outside air … you might be addicted to nature.

Being outdoors for any length of time has positive benefits on your brain and creativity.

Mitchel Jones

Yep, nature makes you more creative too. In studies by psychologists from the Universities of Kansas and Utah, students who spent several days hiking and camping in the wilderness performed 50 percent better on tests measuring their creativity than when they took the same tests before spending time outdoors. Other studies showed boosts in memory, cognition, and focus after connecting with nature, whether that meant walking outdoors or simply looking out the window.

Add to that hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence and stories from the great scientists, writers, and artists of history—many of whom claimed that their best ideas came to them during a walk in the woods—and you’ve got a great recipe for sparking creativity: Get outside.

If you find yourself more selfish, self-absorbed, and generally crabby when you haven’t seen a sunset in weeks … you might be addicted to nature.

The feeling of awe that comes when absorbing the power and beauty of nature can make us better people.

Mitchel Jones

There’s a lot of new research looking into the power of awe: that powerful feeling you get while, say, soaking up a stunning sunset. It turns out that experiencing awe-inspiring natural beauty actually makes us better people.

"Imagine looking up at the Milky Way, or looking at an incredible waterfall, or seeing a moose in the woods. We have this sense of awe that makes us—our egos—feel smaller," Williams explains. “We tend to view our own personal problems as being less significant, and then we feel more connected to each other and the power of the universe.”

Researchers are finding that the more people experience awe, and the perspective of feeling smaller but still connected to something bigger and more significant than themselves, the better their emotional health.

"Nature and wilderness are critical for civilization," Williams adds. “It really does make us more community-minded, it makes us look out for each other, and it makes us better people. Even if we live in a city, it’s still important to seek out those moments of awe and beauty. You can find it in a sunset, a bird flying overhead, or the rivers in your town. Cultivating that awe is something you have to learn how to do.”

If ** you get antsy if you’re not regularly running 30 miles, paddling Class V’s, or shredding trails on your bike … ***you might be addicted to nature (and, maybe, adrenaline too).*

While nature plays a big role, when it comes to high-octane adventure sports or extreme physical activity, you’re probably also addicted to some combination of adrenaline, dopamine, and endorphins.

"When you start thinking about adventure sports, that’s kind of a different brain network that kicks in," Williams says. “Then you’re talking about a dopamine dependency, where you do need a big hit of dopamine that you can only get from a certain level of adventure sports. I think that nature is a part of that, but I don’t think that it’s the whole picture.”

Put another way, you don’t have to be bombing down a mountain at 40 miles an hour to appreciate nature or reap the benefits of being in it.

"We all have different tolerances for nature and different types of nature that we prefer," Williams says. “Some of us might feel great looking at the ocean, and others of us are freaked out by how wide open it is. We need to pay attention to how we feel when we’re outside, how we feel in different kinds of nature immersion settings. Some people are going to be on that side of the bell curve where they may need a big bang and they may also need the adrenaline rush of the sport.”

So you’re addicted to nature. What now?

Accept your addiction, and get out there and embrace it.

Mitchel Jones

Embrace it, and be grateful it’s a healthy addiction: Nature is the cure, not the disease.

"I think that addiction to nature is sort of our default state," Williams notes. “I think we’re all supposed to be addicted to nature because that’s how [our ancestors] survived—they needed to totally understand and feel connected to the natural world.”

According to experts, the real problem is not that some of us are addicted to nature, but that so many of us aren’t. Increasingly, people whose lives play out almost entirely in urban environments are addicted to technology and disconnected from nature—and so much is lost in that imbalance. And it’s not just the obvious effects like weight gain: We lose the peace that comes with a walk in the woods, the creativity sparked by a run on a trail, the thrill of testing your limits on a crag or a river, and the wonder of looking up at a clear sky full of stars.

The negative effects we feel when we don’t get our nature "fix"—depression, stress, selfishness, or lack of focus—are all really just indicators that we’re missing something that is inextricably tied up in the core of who we are, not just as outdoor enthusiasts or adrenaline junkies and everyone in between. Nature also connects us to something far more primal and long-lasting: who we are as humans.

"We are natural beings, and we have to interact with other natural beings, not just human beings," Wharton says. “There’s something out there in nature. I used to run a lot faster, but since I slowed down, I see more. There’s an interaction with nature that happens that we just need.”

Written by Andrew Shaughnessy for RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Mitchel Jones

Discover Paradise Valley: An Untouched Wilderness Gem Just North of Yellowstone National Park

20180611-Montana-Absaroka Range

Driving to Yellowstone is a journey in itself. Most visitors to the country’s first national park have to cross states, mountain ranges, and vast prairies before at long last exiting the freeway at Livingston, Montana. From there, most head south toward the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Traveling alongside the Yellowstone River, down Highway 89, the valley opens into miles of mountain views and spectacular western ranches. One word describes it best: paradise.

How to Get There

Cross the Yellowstone River at Carter’s Bridge for a scenic fishing spot.

Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

Paradise Valley is the incredible place visitors get to experience before even reaching the park. Created by the Absaroka Range to the east and the Gallatin Range to the west, the valley runs north to south between Livingston and Yankee Jim Canyon, which is about 15 miles north of Gardiner, Montana, and the north entrance to Yellowstone. While many visitors simply gawk at the grandeur on the way to the park, it’s worth the time to explore on its own. You’ll avoid many of the crowds found in the national park, yet experience the scenic beauty that makes a cross-country trip worthwhile.

Traveling from Livingston, exit the steady stream of traffic and follow the locals down Paradise Valley’s first left onto East River Road, just outside of town. This scenic, meandering county road immediately crosses the mighty Yellowstone at Carter’s Bridge and invites you to slow down. The fishing access at Carter’s Bridge is a wonderful place to pull over and stretch your legs while taking in the majestic valley.

First Stop: The Yellowstone River

Strolling down the pebble-strewn beach, you’ll see the cold, snow-fed waters of the free-flowing Yellowstone tumble by. The river starts high in the mountains and continues all the way to the Gulf of Mexico—the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. Fishermen and paddlers drift along enjoying this world-class trout stream while ospreys and eagles perch along the banks. Take some time to drop a line across the downstream banks. Large browns lie in wait and rainbows sit in the riffles.

Explore the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness

Continuing south, East River Road winds through little ranches and past Pine Creek’s one-room schoolhouse. The towering peaks of the Absaroka Range constantly pull the gaze to the east, and you’ll find plenty of trails in this area that wind up the side valleys.

Hiking in the Absaroka Mountains is a spectacular experience.

Dusan Smetana/Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

A short drive past the schoolhouse accesses the Pine Creek Trailhead and gentle hiking through the dramatic glacier-carved valley underneath Black Mountain. This gateway into the 40-year-old Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness is a popular place for day hikers, backpackers, and photographers. After little more than a mile of smooth trail beside the babbling creek, you’ll reach the base of Pine Creek Falls—an ideal place to picnic and relax. Don’t forget your bear spray, however, as these mountains are once again home to wandering grizzlies working their way north from the park.

For the more adventurous, the trail continues for four more steep miles to Pine Creek’s beautiful alpine lake. This lake is set back in a cirque of granite and provides a wonderful opportunity for solitude under the high peaks of the Absarokas. The north face of Black Mountain sits imposingly above the south shore and the grasslands of Paradise Valley are framed by the steep glacially carved drainage.

Soak in the Hot Springs

Visit Chico Hot Springs for a relaxing soak after a long day on the trails.

Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development/@enchanted.forest

After hiking, the best place to relax is a few more miles down East River Road at Chico Hot Spring Resort & Day Spa. Under the shadow of Emigrant Peak, warm water bubbles up into the idyllic, blue pools of the spa. The poolside bar, local beer, and mineral-rich water help relax the tired legs from a morning spent hiking or wading.

Gazing up at Emigrant Peak, the most prominent in the valley, the snow still shines brightly in the summer light from the last pockets of winter that cling to the summit. The road behind Chico winds up Emigrant Gulch and past the shades of old gold mines and hard luck. Ancient volcanic rock defines these mountains while glaciers and time carved its prominent pyramidal shape.

Settle in For Dinner and a Good Night’s Rest

Trail Creek Road has wonderful views of the Absaroka Range.

Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

As the shadow of the mountain grows longer and dinnertime nears, return to the highway and make your way to the little town of Emigrant. You will know you’re close by the smell—tucked off the highway is Wildflour Bakery and Follow Yer Nose BBQ. For dinner, look for their signature plate of ribs, a healthy dollop of sauce, a local ale, and live tunes while watching the sun set over the Gallatin Range and the alpenglow painting the Absarokas across the river.

After taking in the perfect day in paradise, finish the journey along the river south to Gardiner and prepare for the following day in the park. Find a comfortable room, book a guide, and get ready to explore the upper reaches of the Yellowstone and all that awaits on the far side of Paradise.

Written by Anthony Pavkovich for RootsRated Media in partnership with Gardiner CVB.

Featured image provided by Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development