It was a sparkling fall day on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But out of nowhere, the rain, wind and mist caught us right as we pulled up to Craggy Gardens, just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. While everyone else hunkered down, we hiked the short loop. The hike felt otherworld­ly—spooky, very Lord of the Rings-like. But it was perfectly safe and well worth the cold and rain to see this lovely view.

AUROBINDO SUNDARAM Alpharetta, Georgia

I met some nice folks while I was out exploring Badlands, Grand Teton and Yellowston­e national parks. There was a nice gentleman from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia who was roadtrippi­ng the West with his adult son and the son’s girlfriend. I chatted with an Ohio couple who had seen amazing wildlife at Yellowston­e the previous week, each now inspired to buy a camera upon returning home. One woman from

Denver said the best way to visit Yellowston­e is in the winter on snowshoes. A couple from Michigan was on a three-week vacation with a poodle mix. They both said they felt like they couldn’t get any smaller standing in front of the Teton Range. We all have stories to share, and I’m glad I got to listen to a few of theirs in some of the nation’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring parks.

KELLY JOHNSON Eau Claire, Wisconsin

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