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Natural Wonders: Tallest Hoodoo, Largest Gators, Lost Maples

These three treks to life-list phenomena will take you to Bryce Canyon, Florida gator land, and fall foliage in the Texas desert.

Texas’s Lost Maples
Search for brilliant fall foliage in the desert.

The Wonder Predecessors of the modern big-tooth maple thrived in Texas before the last Ice Age. Then came the deep freeze, when ice sheets advanced across North America and destroyed most living things in their path. Scattered stands of big-tooths–a drought-tolerant relative to the eastern sugar maple–survived in canyons in central and west Texas. Come mid-October, their yellow, red, and orange leaves can compete with any foliage display in Vermont.

The Way From the park entrance, take a right fork to the Bay Use Parking Area to pick up the one-mile out-and-back Maple Trail. The first maple–the state’s biggest, a monster with an 85-inch trunk circumference and 45-foot crown-rises 40 feet from the canyon floor at the trailhead. tpwd.state.tx.usparks/lostmaples

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