There are so many great places to see on this earth – incredible sights, interesting people, great experiences. During certain times of the year, though, some of those places require you to bring some mosquito repellent along. That should not stop you from visiting – because the rewards far outweigh the pesky little bugs. Not going somewhere just because of some bugs is a little like not going to a beach because you are afraid of the sun. Just like how sunscreen can help you enjoy a sunny day, a little insect repellent can help you enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful places.
Here are 5 places that you absolutely should visit someday – but do so with a bit of bug spray in hand.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota
Perched up in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, just north of Lake Superior, is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). It is an incredible and expansive piece of untouched wilderness, and one of the quietest and most peaceful places on earth. A typical trip involves working with an outfitter to get a canoe, camping supplies, and food, and finding a route through the wilderness that involves a combination of canoeing and portaging (carrying your canoe and supplies on a path between lakes). You find peaceful and private campsites, setup camp, and relax on lakes where you might not see another soul all day. It really is an incredible and accessible way to get in touch with nature.
When to bring the bug spray: The mosquitoes will first appear in early June, and will likely peak in late June and July. In some years, they are dying down by August, but in other years a late hatch can keep them going strong until Labor Day.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
RMNP is a stunning place with beautiful views, just inside the Front Range of Northern Colorado. From the incredible drives and hikes, to the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired headquarters, to being able to sit on the continental divide, this is a must-see for any outdoorsy American. Most people do not think of this area as a home to mosquitoes, but statistics would suggest otherwise. True, there might not be as many mosquitoes in Colorado as there are in some more wet, northwoods locations, but there are mosquitoes and the ones that are there tend to carry more diseases than in other places. The counties that RMNP lies in, Larimer and Boulder, are two counties that consistently sport cases of West Nile Virus, and there have been years when Colorado leads the nation in West Nile cases. And while ticks are not highly-prevalent in much of Colorado, there are ticks in Colorado too.
When to bring the bug spray: To be safe, start applying bug spray during hiking or camping trips in RNMP starting in late May, and continue through August. Most cases of West Nile begin being reported in late June. Again, there are not swarms of mosquitoes here, but the ones that are here tend to be more likely to carry WNV.
Green Mountains, Vermont
The Green Mountains in Vermont are a year-round destination for sightseers, hikers, skiers, fishermen – you name it. Tucked into the Southern Vermont area are several small and quaint towns – Manchester being one – where you can get an authentic New England feel, visit local farmer’s markets, and have great lodging while you plan your next day of hiking or touring. The views of rolling mountains are incredible. You will want to be aware of mosquitoes, as well as ticks, however. New England is becoming a hotbed for deer tick and lyme disease activity, but with a little prevention and checking yourself for ticks, you can minimize the risk.
When to bring the bug spray: Mosquito season in Vermont peaks in July, and really depends on the amount of rainfall. In drier years, the mosquitoes are often not as much of a problem. As for ticks, you can use a tick repellent for them as well. Note that ticks can stay active well into the fall, so don’t assume they are gone when to take a trip to look at the stunning fall colors.
Coastal Eastern Maine – Bangor to Acadia
Maine’s coast is incredible – and once you get up past Bangor it becomes rocky, rugged, and so very scenic. We love the quaint Maine villages, the great ocean-front homes, and the activities like hiking and kayaking. If you can find a nice sound or harbor, you have the best of both worlds – an ocean around the corner, with calmer water for those windier days. If you are in this area, split your time between the outdoors and the villages. You can’t miss out on the incredible seafood cuisine, featuring Lobster in many cases. The good news about the mosquitoes is that the closer to are to the water, the fewer mosquitoes you will see. A coastal breeze, along with the clean, moving water, are enough to keep the bugs away. But if you get just a bit inland (or on the protected islands of Acadia) you will likely being the mosquito range.
When to bring the bug spray: Mosquito season tends to be a touch later here. Expect to experience them from late June through August. There are black flies that come out in early June, for a short period of time. The good news is that, generally speaking, the same repellent will be effective against both nuisance bugs.
Denali National Park, Alaska
It is hard not to love Denali. Tucked away in the remote inland of Alaska, it is a once-in-a-lifetime destination for so many people. Incredible wildlife is augmented by some of the most rugged views you will get in the US. When you are in Denali, you can just feel that everything is a bit more off-the-grid than other places, even other mountainous areas like Montana and Colorado. The hiking is incredible, and if you get good weather it may just be one of the most photogenic places you ever visit. Getting there is not easy – so allow some time for transit from Anchorage to Denali.
When to bring the bug spray: The good news is that the Alaska mosquito season is short (but intense). Mid-June is when you will notice the bugs arriving, and they will remain through July. By August, they are thinning out considerably. Alaska mosquitoes are known for their size – and their variety. There are 35 species of mosquitoes there alone!