15 Places With Adorable Animal Ambassadors

A certain location can bring to mind any number of things — a particular monument, a beach, a person, an attitude. Even animals have the power to evoke a country or destination. Here are 15 creatures that are inextricably linked to a place.

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Go From Sea to Sky in Squamish

Go From Sea to Sky in Squamish

While Whistler, the much-praised ski resort just north of Vancouver, certainly has its charms, don’t blaze past the little town of Squamish on the road to get there. Low-key Squamish is now home to the Sea to Sky Gondola, a ride that soars 3,000 feet from the ocean to the peaks of the Coast Mountains, allowing everyone access to jaw-dropping views of glacial lakes, fjords, rain forests and the occasional bald eagle sighting. Once you get to the top, set out on one of eight different hiking trails, rock climb, traverse the 100-meter-long suspension bridge, stop for lunch at the Summit Restaurant or watch a glowing sun set over snow-topped mountains at the Edge bar. 960 1280

Kristin Piljay  

Take a Boat to the Sunshine Coast

Take a Boat to the Sunshine Coast

At just 45-minutes, the ferry ride across the shimmery blue sound from Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast is minimal, but the transformation it sets off is anything but. This aptly named 50-mile stretch of coastline north of Vancouver, typically sunnier than the rest of the province and only accessible by ferry, feels so removed and brimming with nature even locals forget they are still on the mainland and not a remote island. Head up to the laid back town of Egmont, a seafarer’s nirvana and point of departure for the five-hour boat ride through the Princess Louisa Inlet, where you can glide through pine-covered cliffs to the thundering Chatterbox waterfalls. 960 1280

Jason Poole  

Hike Skookumchuck Narrows

Hike Skookumchuck Narrows

Just outside of Egmont on the Sunshine Coast, take the easy hike to Skookumchuck Narrows to see tidal changes so extreme that even surfers can catch waves on the rushing waters. The billions of gallons of ocean that gush through the narrow inlet here has become a playground for expert kayakers; they perform 360 flips to the cheers of onlookers who have hiked an hour through the lush forest of Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park to watch their tricks. Kayakers and audience alike taste the thrill of interacting with the wild Skookumchuck – a word that means “strong waters” in Chinook, a local native language.  960 1280

Steve Glass  

Get Back to Nature at the Gulf Islands

Get Back to Nature at the Gulf Islands

Vancouver is celebrated as one of the greenest cities in the world, but it is the verdant islands that surround Vancouver – where orca whales breach and blackberries seem to pick themselves for you – that transport its visitors to the Garden of Eden. For a quiet retreat, try Galiano, one of the Gulf Islands between mainland B.C. and Vancouver Island. Visit unspoiled beaches only accessible by kayak, watch seaplanes come in for a landing at the marina, but most importantly, watch the sun set over Montague Harbour, an unforgettable spectacle of color. 960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Ski at Big White

Ski at Big White

While many Canadians claim that Whistler is the best ski resort in North America, it’s certainly not the only place to click into your bindings in British Columbia. If you want to have a far more affordable ski experience and almost no lift lines, head to the more remote ski slopes of Big White, just outside of the town of Kelowna in the Southern Interior of B.C. Without the crowds and the hefty lift fees, but ample first rate amenities to make you feel at home, the whole family can ski with ease. Perhaps go fully Nordic by dog sledding or snow shoeing on their 25 kilometers of cross-country trails. 960 1280

Don Weixl  

Bike the Seawall in Vancouver's Stanley Park

Bike the Seawall in Vancouver's Stanley Park

Vancouver is one of the densest metropolises in Canada, but when sitting by the edge of Beaver Lake, a calm refuge deep in the heart of Stanley Park, you forget entirely about the buzz of the city. This 1,001-acre park that borders the city’s downtown is a rarity amongst great urban parks: huge swaths of it are undeveloped and home to towering coastal forests and abundant wildlife. And Stanley Park is almost entirely surrounded by water, making the bike ride along its 6.2-mile sea wall a series of one stunning ocean view after another. Whether you catch its renown cherry blossoms in the spring or the crimson big leaf maples in the fall, nature’s bounty is here, minutes from the busy sidewalks of the city. 960 1280

JTB Photo  

Surf in Tofino

Surf in Tofino

Take Vancouver Island’s Highway Four all the way to its end on the very tip of the westernmost side of the island, and you will find yourself in Tofino, a small town with a very big reputation. The outdoor adventurer’s paradise with a temperate climate, the town has adopted the moniker of “Tree Loving Capital of the World,” and is also known for its excellent whale and storm watching. But its biggest claim to fame is its unofficial title as the surf capital of Canada. With consistent waves to accommodate all levels of surfers and decent year round weather, it’s become Canada’s most appealing place to catch a swell. 960 1280

Design Pics / Deddeda  

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Near the center of Arches National Park you’ll find the Garden of Eden -- so named because its rocky shapes resemble flowers and trees. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

North Window, Arches National Park

North Window, Arches National Park

This 90-foot-wide portal known as the North Window is one of many natural sandstone arches you’ll find at Arches National Park. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The 65-foot Delicate Arch is its most famous. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

In addition to its famed arches, Arches National Park’s colorful geography includes maze-like narrow passages and tall rock columns. You can find this view directly opposite the Delicate Arch. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Hiking at Arches

Hiking at Arches

Two hikers journey back from the Delicate Arch. The three-mile trail (round-trip) is moderately strenuous, and takes roughly 30 to 45 minutes each way. Bring plenty of water! 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch

Enjoy a shaded rest from the Moab desert sun. This trail at Arches National Park leads through deep sand; a secluded arch, Sand Dune Arch, waits up ahead. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Wolfe Ranch Cabin

Wolfe Ranch Cabin

In the late 1800s, a Civil War veteran named John Wesley Wolfe and his son built this one-room cabin in what is now Arches National Park. For more than 10 years, Wolfe lived on this rugged ranch, where the area’s water and desert grassland were enough to sustain a few cattle. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

The Moab area is also home to Canyonlands National Park. Erosion over millions of years produced the many canyons, buttes and mesas -- including Mesa Arch. 960 1280

Alex Proimos, flickr  

Hell’s Revenge

Hell’s Revenge

Ready to take on Hell’s Revenge? This steep slick rock trail may make your pulse race as you tackle its hair-raising descents on a Razor ride. It’s located in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, a sandstone plateau of slick rock domes, bowls and fins. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Porcupine Rim Trail

Porcupine Rim Trail

A mountain biker tackles Porcupine Rim Trail, one of two trails within the Sand Flats Recreation Area. The steep, rocky terrain, which stretches nearly 15 miles, challenges even the most experienced mountain bikers. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Moab Cowboy

Moab Cowboy

Meet the Moab Cowboy -- that's what locals call Kent Green. For more than 20 years, Green served as a deputy sheriff and search-and-rescue commander in the Moab area. Today, he leads off-road adventures. His no. 1 rule: Never travel alone. 960 1280

Lisa Singh   

Moab Dinosaur Footprints

Moab Dinosaur Footprints

Check out these fossilized dinosaur footprints during a Razor ride through the Sand Flats Recreation Area with the Moab Cowboy. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Big Bend Recreation Area

Big Bend Recreation Area

Moab is a rock climber’s dream. Enjoy bouldering at the Big Bend Recreation Area along the Colorado River, northeast of Moab. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Colorado River

Colorado River

Take in the view of the Colorado River from Scenic Byway 128, with awe-inspiring views of red standstone cliffs just beyond. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Fisher Towers, Colorado River

Fisher Towers, Colorado River

River guide Arne Hultquist leads a whitewater rafting trip through the Fishers Tower section of the Colorado River. The area comprises a series of towers made of sandstone; they’re named after a miner who lived in the area in the 1880s. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Matrimony Spring

Matrimony Spring

Fill up at Matrimony Spring, a natural spring along Byway 128. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the spring will continue to return to Moab. The water that issues forth begins its journey as snowmelt from the La Sal Mountains, 20 miles southeast of Moab. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Get ready to say “wow” at Dead Horse Point. The park features a stunning overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The area also served as the final film scene for the 1991 classic "Thelma & Louise." 960 1280

Mike Nielsen, flickr  

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

The setting sun illuminates El Capitan monolith in frozen Yosemite National Park. A favorite for advanced rock climbers, "The Chief" is the world's largest solid granite block, rising an awe-inspiring 3,500 feet above the ground. 960 1280

Getty  

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

After an ice storm, freezing cold water continues to plummet an impressive 620 feet into the Columbia River. Visitors can take in the spectacular view from the Benson Bridge, built in 1914 for scenes like this one. 960 1280

Getty  

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Snow coats the ground around the Belgian Pool, a hot spring in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. You can look, but don't get too close! Originally named Oyster Spring, the natural wonder was renamed after a Belgian visitor who fell into it in 1929 and suffered fatal thermal burns. 960 1280

Getty  

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

A snowy shot of Bryce Canyon's hoodoos, tall rock structures that form from water, wind and ice erosion. 960 1280

Getty  

St. Joseph Lighthouses, Michigan

St. Joseph Lighthouses, Michigan

The St. Joseph Lighthouses attempt to withstand the elements on frozen Lake Michigan. The 2 lighthouses were built in the early 1900s, and the outer light is one of the oldest on the lake.  960 1280

Getty  

Coyote Buttes, Arizona

Coyote Buttes, Arizona

Jack Frost puts an icy touch on "The Wave," an incredible sandstone rock formation in Coyote Buttes North, a section of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. In order to preserve the spectacular sight, only 20 hikers (with permits) per day are allowed to visit. 960 1280

Getty  

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The sun rises over snow-clad Joshua trees in California's Mojave Desert. 960 1280

  

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