10 great places that veer off the beaten path

OK, so Yellowstone isn't exactly off the beaten path. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the USA's oldest national park. But most of them drive to the major tourist sites, emerging from their cars only for short strolls. Experiencing the park's grandeur by bicycle gives visitors a whole new perspective — not to mention saving all that gas money. "Just imagine riding alongside beautiful Yellowstone Lake, with bald eagles soaring overhead and elk grazing nearby," Stowell says. 307-344-7381; nps.gov/yell

Spitsbergen Island Norway

This is a great jumping-off point for exploring the Arctic. Catch an ice-breaking ship in the town of Longyearbyen on the Norwegian island of Svalbard (just south of the Arctic Circle), then circumnavigate the island of Spitsbergen. "You'll see breathtaking fjords, jagged peaks and huge glaciers — not to mention whales, polar bears, seals and thousands of seabirds," Stowell says. visitnorway.com

'Lawrence of Arabia' trail Jordan

You've seen the movie — now you can trace the steps of the real-life T.E. Lawrence via camel, jeep and on foot. "Begin your tour in Jordan's Eastern Desert, where you can visit castles that Lawrence stayed in," Stowell says. "You can follow his route through the Wadi Rum desert sands on an all-day camel ride, overnight in authentic Bedouin tents, and then hike through the Beidah Mountains to the ancient city of Petra." visitjordan.com

Choquequirao Peru

Most vacationers have heard of the Inca Trail, which winds through the Andes to the awe-inspiring archaeological site of Machu Picchu. But there are many other breathtaking mountain treks to discover in Peru. "One of the best is a three-day hike to Choquequirao, Machu Picchu's sister site, which is still being excavated," Stowell says. "The site overlooks the Apurimac River and offers unbeatable 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges." peru.info/perueng.asp

Mongolia

"The legacy of Genghis Khan is nearly palpable in this seldom-visited, remote corner of the world," Stowell says. "Exploring this extraordinary land on horseback is a unique way to connect with that past." Guided horseback trips include a visit to Karakorum, the legendary 13th-century capital of the Mongolian Empire. When not in the saddle, travelers can spend the evenings in lodges or traditional Mongol tent camps. http://www.mnto.org

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