Deepest, Tallest, Largest: Record-Setting Destinations
December 21, 2010 | Permalink
As the popularity of the Guinness World Records book series demonstrates, people are pretty fascinated with “–ests”: smallest, fastest, oldest, tallest, biggest. And one way to experience the best “–ests” in the country is to incorporate them into your road trip. A difficulty, however, is narrowing down among the surprisingly large number of record-setting sites one can visit.
Deepest. If asked what the country’s deepest canyon or river gorge is, most Americans probably guess the Grand Canyon (after all, look at its name). In fact, however, America’s deepest river gorge is Hell’s Canyon, which runs between Oregon and Idaho. A gorgeous National Recreation Area, Hell’s Canyon is well over a mile deep and encompasses over 650,000 acres.
The more adventurous travelers should put on their spelunking shoes and head to Mammoth Cave in south central Kentucky. This massive cave system boasts the longest stretch of caverns, which covers nearly 400 miles of explored terrain.
Tallest. In the tallest category, options abound; how about tallest tree—and not just in the U.S. but also in the whole world? A 379.1-foot-tall redwood tree in a remote area of northern California’s Redwood National Park is the current record holder. Although its exact location is kept secret, sightseers can see redwoods nearly as tall along the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile drive that runs parallel to Highway 101, about five hours north of San Francisco.
If big trees aren’t so much your thing, consider checking out record-setting man-made structures. For example, the tallest building in the U.S. is Chicago’s Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, at 1,450 feet. In a few years, though, you’ll have another destination for this category when the 1,776-foot tower for One World Trade Center in New York City is completed. Or how about the tallest memorial structure in U.S., St. Louis, Missouri’s Gateway Arch? Located on the Mississippi riverfront, its tapered curve peaks at 630 feet. Enclosed trams take visitors to the top for spectacular views of the river and the city.
Largest. Largest meteor impact crater in the United States? Beaverhead Impact Structure. Although there’s not so much to see anymore, the original crater, formed roughly 900 million years ago, was about 65 miles in diameter. For a more eye-popping example of close encounters of the meteoric kind, you can check out Barringer Meteorite Crater near Winslow, Arizona, just a few hours northeast of Phoenix. This relative young ‘un—the result of an impact a mere 50,000 years ago—is nearly a mile wide, and 570 feet deep.
For an experience off the beaten path, how about stopping for a soda (or taxidermy service) at Fanning 66 Outpost on your way down I-44 between St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri, to take a gander at the World’s Largest Rocking Chair? Or if you’re looking for something to make a great snapshot during your visit to Seattle, skip the Space Needle and instead head to the Georgetown neighborhood to be immortalized in front of the world’s biggest cowboy hat and pair of boots—the “Hat ‘n’ Boots,” as it’s officially named—built as part of a 1955 gas station.
The categories above are just samples of “–est” destinations from which travelers can choose. Flip them around for more examples, like the shortest covered bridge or smallest post office, or create your own. Of course, if you want to find the best hotels, then you've got nearly 700 destinations to choose from. Every Extended Stay Hotels location features comfortable, convenient hotel rooms at exceptional rates.
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