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July 07, 2009

Park Gems: The National Landscape Conservation System

California's King Range
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Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Congress just passed the largest piece of environmental legislation in decades, voting to protect forever 26 million acres of some of the country's most scenic sites. In our July issue, Jim Robbins reports our last and least-known wild places--and the rewards of seeing them now.

Plus, we offer a quick roundup of the National Landscape Conservation System gems and the best ways to see them.

Here's a sneak peak:

King Range National Conservation Area (California)
One of the country's few remaining coastal wildernesses, northern California's King Range rises 4,000 feet above the Pacific and stretches for 35 miles. Until recently, it was accessible only by foot, via the 26-mile Lost Coast Trail, which traverses deep-green gorges, redwood forests, and black sand beaches. For those who want to visit without backpacking, two shuttle services access remote trailheads: Lost Coast Shuttle (707-986-7437) and Lost Coast Trail Transport Service (707-986-9909). Stay: Shelter Cove, on the southern end, is your best bet for lodgings near the trail; Shelter Cove Bed & Breakfast overlooks the surf (707-986-7161; sheltercovebandb.com; doubles, $195). When: Year-round, though it's driest from May through October. Where: Shelter Cove is a four-hour drive north of San Francisco.

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