The Integratron: A Fusion of Art, Science, and Magic
Where: Landers, California
The Vibe: The geological phenomenon was originally designed to house powers of rejuvenation, human-life extension, and anti-gravity time travel in the heart of California’s Mojave desert. It was built in the 1950s by aircraft mechanic and ufologist George Van Tassel — under instruction from an alien from Venus he encountered during a space trip. (Hey, that’s the story.) The structure, made of wood, fiberglass, and concrete, was sadly never put to the test as a vehicle for time travel (Van Tassel died in 1978). But you can step inside for meditative sonic-healing sound baths sessions, where participants lie down in the main chamber and immerse themselves in harmonic sounds produced by quartz crystal bowls. In the supposedly perfect wooden geometric structure, the experience is so soothing, you’ll feel like you’re actually bathing in sound. Musicians like Arcade Fire, Moby, and the Smashing Pumpkins have visited the dome in search of new inspiration and larger-than-life vibrations. Sound baths happen bi-monthly and are on a first-come-first-serve basis for $20 per person (private sessions and group rates are available, too).
Good to Know: Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Waters, a contemporary hotel with bright and airy rooms and a spa with 24-hour access to heated mineral pools, is a 40-minute drive from The Integratron. The Ace Hotel and Swim Club, a mid-century boutique hotel and oasis in Palm Spring’s high-desert paradise, is filled with quirky characters and a large outdoor pool and spa. (Plus weeknight karaoke and Bingo). If Airbnb is more your thing, Joshua Tree House is a two-bed, two-bath 1949 hacienda located ten minutes from the west entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.
How to Get There: Drive 2.5 hours from Los Angeles and 60 minutes from Palm Springs.
Read More: Fathom Guide to Joshua Tree
Headlands Dark Sky Park: An All-Night Magic Show
Where: Lake Michigan, Michigan
The Vibe: This pitch-black, 550-acre expanse on the shores of Lake Michigan is made up of undeveloped beaches and an ideal low-latitude location to spot the aurora borealis — a mecca for stargazers. Due to the low pollution levels, this 24/7 park offers unobstructed views that allow spectators to see more of the universe above.
Good to Know: Technically, there’s no camping, however the park is open 365 days a year and you’re allowed to stay all night. (No sleep ’til sunrise). The Dark Sky Park offers numerous public viewing nights at Headlands Observatory for $3 a person and many other evening events. The best time to see the northern lights are between September and April. If you’re not up for an all-nighter, plan ahead and rent a room in The Guest House, a large home on the property that accommodates about 20 guests with private bedroom and bathrooms.
How to Get There: The Headlands is located about two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City in northwest Michigan.
Salvation Mountain: One Man’s Painted Heaven
Where: Niland, California
The Vibe: Leonard Knight’s self-built 50-foot clay mountain is inscribed with religious passages that focus on a simple message: God is Love. Knight began his sculptural tribute after a hot air balloon journey failed in this patch of the desert near the Salton Sea. He planned to stay for a week, but the project took 30 years to complete and has since become an ever-growing community art project, as Knight encouraged visitors to bring paint and supplies for their own contributions. It is estimated that the mountain contains over 100,000 gallons of paint and thousands of hay bales (the basis of the sculpture).
Good to Know: Follow the rainbow to The Saguaro in Palm Springs and lounge by the pool with views of the hotel’s technicolor suites. Or rent a desert cruiser bike and head to the Korakia Pensione, a subdued Mediterranean oasis where you can reflect on your visit to Salvation Mountain while relaxing on private daybeds.
How to Get There: Salvation Mountain is located south of I-10 freeway, about five miles east of Hwy 111 at Niland. It’s a 90-minute drive from Palm Springs.
Read More: Fathom’s Guide to Palm Springs and Fathom’s favorite Palm Springs Hotels
Linville Gorge: The Grand Canyon of The East
Where: Marion, North Carolina
The Vibe: The pure, virgin forest is said to have natural healing energy and is considered to be the state’s best-kept secret. Steep walls enclose the Linville River for twelve miles and protect the oldest grown trees in the forest — a natural shield from loggers. The earth here is so sacred that hikers often remove their shoes for grounding rituals and to embrace the natural healing energy of the gorge.
Good to Know: Linville Caverns is a must-see while visiting Linville Gorge. As North Carolina’s only cave system, visitors can explore many hidden treasures inside Humpback Mountain. At the base of the gorge sits Lake James, a 6,510-acre lake with more than 150 miles of beautiful shoreline. Closest lodging in the National Park is at the Linville Falls Campground with cabins available to rent. Or stay lakeside with a Blue Ridge Farm Stay.
How to Get There: Take the Blue Ridge Parkway about 66 miles north of Asheville. Fuel up before the hike at Tablein Asheville for Southern farm-to-table dishes.
Read More: A 9-Step Guide to Hiking in Style and A Sweet and Smoky Food Tour of Asheville, North Carolina
Mount Shasta: An Alpine Community Where Heaven and Earth Meet
Where: Mount Shasta, California
The Vibe: The 14,179-foot ice-covered dormant volcano in Northern California is highly praised by spiritual seekers as one of the most powerful energy vortexes in North America. With over 26,000 visitors a year (many of whom never leave), the peak’s high-vibrational energy has lead to many shamantic awakenings, spiritual growth pursuits, emotional restorations, and ah-ha moments. The Shasta worshippers are often compared to Ancient Greeks who were obsessed with Olympus, or Moses and his Sinai. Legend has it there is even a hidden city inside the peak inhabited by higher-dimensional beings called Lemurians, and the saucer-shaped clouds that often gather at the summit are engineered for the disguise of alien-aircraft arrivals. Talk about far out.
Good to Know: Guided meditations, vision quests, and hiking excursions are available through Shasta Vortex Adventures. The Trinity Divide trails are especially breathtaking with no expert hiking experience required —the three-mile Heart Lake Trail takes hikers up to Castle Peak with stunning views of Mount Shasta’s reflection over the small and serene lake. The best time to visit is in the late spring with temperatures in the low 60s, cooler than the average 75°F during peak tourist season in the summer. Nestled at the foot of Mt. Shasta, McCloud Hotel is an ideal location for guests hoping to take advantage of the surrounding river and its three waterfalls. Railroad Park Caboose offers the opportunity to stay in your own refurbished vintage Cotton Belt railroad car on a beautiful 50-acre private property.
How to Get There: Mount Shasta is located 60 miles north of Redding, California, and 60 miles south of the Oregon border. Nearby airports include Sacramento and Redding, as well as Medford, Oregon.
Monument Valley: America’s Wild West
Where: Monument Valley, Arizona
The Vibe: Famously known as the backdrop to America’s 1930’s Westerns by John Ford and John Wayne, Monument Valley remains the setting for what many imagine to be the true snapshot of the American West. Visitors come to drive the 17-mile scenic-loop drive, admire the majestic, free-standing sandstone buttes, and imagine themselves embracing a kind of let-their-hair-down freedom, like Thelma & Louise. This sprawling, 92,000-acre valley is home to the Navajo Nation and remains their tribal-owned sacred land dedicated to their Creator. In addition to the loop drive, visitors can experience this ever-changing natural beauty by hiking the eleven trails and lookouts in the park — a famous spot is John Ford’s point, where visitors can recreate the iconic image of a solo horseback rider overlooking the high plateau at the edge of the desert.
Good to Know: Peak Season is from May through September; off-Season is October through April. The View is located in Monument Valley Park and offers guests unsurpassed vistas from charming cabins with private porches to sip coffee before a morning hike. Four hours northeast of Monument Valley is Red Rock County in Sedona, Arizona, where legendary energy vortexes are found inside Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon (known for hosting powerful masculine, feminine, and ying-yang energy). Other popular sites to see are Airport Mesa, Chapel of The Holy Cross, and West Fork Oak Creek Trail.
How to Get There: U.S Route 163 is the main U.S. Highway that enters Monument Valley. McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is convenient for those traveling to the Grand Canyon, as it is on the route to Monument Valley.
Read More: An Enchanting Stay in Arizona’s Red Rock Country and What to Do on Your Day Off: Arizona
Crater Lake: The Big Blue
Where: Klamath County, Oregon
The Vibe: Formed in 4680 BC by the volcanic explosion of Mount Mazama, the six-mile-wide 1,943-foot-deep Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S., ninth-deepest in the world, and famous for its crystal clear water. Worshipped by the indigenous Klamath Native Americans, this sacred lake is known for engendering a spiritual and religious-like wonder. For centuries, the tribe’s shaman was the only one allowed to visit the lake, as many feared looking into the depths too long would invite life-long sorrow … or death. There are no streams of water in or out of the lake, which explains its clarity and vibrant blue appearance. Visitors often seek the Old Man of The Lake — a mysteriously implanted log that has been sitting in place for one hundred years, and the bright, rust-colored Pumice Castle that juts out on the eastern wall of the caldera. Wizard Island, named for its resemblance to a sorcerer’s hat (pre-Harry Potter), is the top of a cinder-cone volcano within Crater Lake, where one can marvel at 800-year-old trees.
Good to Know: Crater Lake Park is snow-covered from October through June. Peak season is between June and August, when the park’s roads, trails, and facilities tend to be fully operational. Crater Lake Lodge overlooks the lake and offers guests a place to unwind after a full day of swimming, hiking, fishing, and touring.
How to Get There: The closest airports are in Klamath Falls (63 miles from park headquarters) and Medford (75 miles). Car rentals are available at both airports. Amtrak provides daily service to Klamath Falls and a shuttle runs from the Amtrak station to Rim Village between late June and early October.