Death Valley and the Story of the ‘Lost ‘49ers’

Bluegreen Resorts’ Bluegreen Club 36 is close to the Las Vegas Strip, but still within easy driving distance of spectacular natural wonders such as Death Valley in the Mojave Desert. In less than 2.5 hours, you can head west and get to Death Valley National Park by car, via U.S. Route 95 North. Contrary to its name, the park is actually home to a diverse range of plants and animals. While Death Valley is the driest spot in the United States and the hottest in the world, fields of wildflowers bloom after a rare rainstorm, and oases create shelters for wildlife.

If you’re planning a visit, you’ll be fascinated by the dramatic and poignant story of the “Lost ‘49ers” and two particularly brave and resourceful young men.

In 1848, gold was discovered near San Francisco, and wave after wave of ’49ers began heading west. Among them was a group under the leadership of Captain Jefferson Hunt. In the winter of 1849, Hunt’s wagons appeared to be stuck in the supply station of Salt Lake City due to the lateness of the year: Anyone who hoped to cross safely into California needed to leave Salt Lake City and make it through the Great Basin Desert and over the High Sierras before snow made safe passage impossible.

Hunt’s party heard about the Old Spanish Trail, which purportedly skirted the southern edge of the High Sierras. The problem facing them was that they knew of no previous wagon trains that had made this trip successfully, and only one person claimed to understand the route. Even in the face of uncertainty, the party elected to try. Eventually, the group split in two, with a larger convoy attempting to follow what they hoped was a shortcut through Walker Pass. A smaller number kept to the Old Spanish Trail.

The larger group became known as the “Lost ‘49ers,” due to a run of bad luck that included a lost map, starving oxen, battered wagons, further splits among the group, and a towering expanse of the Panamint Mountains that seemed to bar their way westward. They were saved from dying of thirst due to a snowstorm.

Two young men, John Rogers and William Lewis Manly, walked for more than 300 miles to obtain supplies. By the time they returned, the men saw that many in the group had tried to press forward on their own, leaving just two families behind. While only one man died over course of the month-long wait, the experience so affected the travelers that one is said to have left the area saying, “Good-bye, Death Valley,” and the name stuck.

Boyne Falls, Michigan – Beautiful and Fun Year-Round

No matter what time of year you visit, the natural beauty of Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula around the Boyne Falls area is a feast for the eyes and the senses. When you enjoy a vacation with Bluegreen Resorts at its Mountain Run at Boyne, you’ll have access to some of the best and most exciting summer and winter sports, including boating, hiking, fishing, skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling.

In the spring, hiking trails are the scene of newly blossoming flowers and tree buds. Fans of mushrooms will want to remember that a championship morel-hunting competition takes place in Boyne City during that season. In summer, Lake Charlevoix’s diamond-clear waters attract swimmers, and walkers enjoy the River Walk along the Boyne River. The variety of themed festivals held in the Boyne area during these warmer months makes spring and summer particularly inviting: There are arts festivals, street events, car shows, Independence Day fireworks, and more.

Autumn brings a riot of red, gold, orange, and yellow foliage to the northern Lower Peninsula. Boyne Mountain presents numerous opportunities to view and photograph thick forests of richly colored trees. Many travelers find fall the ideal time to visit, particularly if they enjoy driving along the routes of any of the area’s fine “leaf tours.”

Before the glaciers responsible for creating the Great Lakes more than 10,000 years ago began to melt, their movement across the landscape carved out vast tracts of fertile flatlands and a number of substantial mountain peaks. In winter, Boyne Mountain and neighbors such as Crystal Mountain and Mount Arvon are covered with fine-powered snow perfectly set to challenge even very experienced skiers. Forests of dark-needled pine trees, green conifers, and graceful aspens are dappled with snow and frost across the northern Lower Peninsula. Because Michigan has the second-largest number of downhill ski areas in the country, the area affords you plenty of opportunities to enjoy winter’s most exciting sport against this stunning backdrop.

Tips on Hiking the Grand Canyon Safely

When you stay with Bluegreen Resorts at Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in the Phoenix, Arizona, neighborhood of Peoria, or at Bluegreen Club 36 in Las Vegas, you’re a short drive away from the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon. The 277-mile-long canyon, which runs along the length of the Colorado River, is among the most stunning and frequently visited natural wonders of the world. Yet every year, approximately 250 people require rescue assistance while hiking it. Thoughtful preparation can make all the difference in ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable hike.

No matter what your estimate of your own abilities, it’s wise not to attempt a day hike from the canyon’s ridge to the river and back again, especially during the heat of summer. Whether you’re visiting the South Rim or North Rim, you’ll find rim-only hiking trails – sometimes paved – that offer views as spectacular as any deep in the canyon.

Before you set out, make sure to double-check the forecast. Avoid becoming so attached to a particular plan that you don’t realize when it’s safer to postpone your hike. The National Park Service advises that summertime hikers exercise extreme caution when considering a trip through the canyon, since temperatures can soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. July is the hottest month in the inner canyon, with average temperatures ranging from a low of 78 degrees to a high of 106. June and August are nearly as hot.

The park doesn’t sell water in disposable bottles, so essential equipment for your day hike should include a water container that you can refill when necessary at any of the many water stations. Bring along additional water fortified to replace electrolytes. Your hiking kit should also include salty foods for extra nourishment, sunscreen, a mirror or other signaling device, a first-aid kid, a flashlight and extra batteries, a spray bottle filled with water for cooling, and waterproof outerwear, if needed.

Rockfalls and rockslides can be very dangerous. Watch and listen for them, particularly following a rainstorm, and avoid standing on terrain where rocks have previously fallen. Lightning can strike at 10 miles across the canyon. If you’re under the rim, it’s no guarantee that you’re out of range. If lightning strikes, don’t seek shelter in caves or crevices, or near cliff edges or vertical targets, such as poles or single trees. Stay close to the ground without lying on it or touching it with your hands.

The website of the National Park Service offers further information, as well as safety videos and real-time weather and terrain updates. In addition, the Grand Canyon Field Institute can put you in touch with experienced guides.

Monument Golf Course Pays Homage to Past Greats

Stay at Mountain Run at Boyne, Bluegreen Resorts’ cozy and comfortable home-away-from-home in Boyne Falls, Michigan, and you’ll enjoy some of the best winter sports of your life. Situated in the northern part of the state’s Lower Peninsula, Boyne Falls and Boyne Mountain present a winter backdrop of frosted pine trees and fine-powdered snow against which you can go skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. But in warmer months, the area blossoms with flowers, green boughs, animal life, and plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming – and golf.

The Monument golf course at Boyne Mountain Resort is among the finest in the nation, created in keeping with principles developed by leading course designers such as Robert Trent Jones, Donald Ross, and Dr. Alister Mackenzie. The Monument and its sister course, Alpine, sit atop Boyne Mountain and are accessible by a one-mile-long golf cart ascent up the mountain’s spine. The two courses offer a focal point for some spectacular views of summer greenery and autumn golds and reds of the surrounding countryside.

The Monument is special for another reason: It has named each of its 18 holes in honor of a famous individual associated with golfing, including two women. Hole 3 is named for one of the sport’s most outstanding amateurs, Peggy Kirk Bell, who enjoyed her heyday in the 1940s and ‘50s. Kathy Whitworth, whose career is commemorated at Hole 10, holds more professional titles than any other professional golfer, male or female, ever to have played the game.

Hole 11 at the Monument pays tribute to Gene Sarazen, the early 20th century pro who was the first to garner a career Grand Slam, with wins at each of the sport’s major championships. Hole 14 honors Bobby Jones, whose play dominated the 1920s and who to date is the only professional golfer ever to win a Grand Slam over the course of a single season. Hole 18 is named in remembrance of Sam Snead, known as “Slammin’ Sam,” who at his death in 2002 was the PGA’s all-time leader in tour wins.

Thrill to the History of the Titanic in Branson, Missouri

Did you know that visitors who stay with Bluegreen Resorts at The Falls Village in Branson, Missouri, have the chance to visit the legendary luxury ocean liner “R.M.S. Titanic?” Branson, named by Fodor’s Travel as one of the best family vacation destinations, is home to the Titanic Museum Attraction, a walk-through replica of the ship whose tragic fate has inspired retellings in numerous books and movies.

The museum is devoted to memorializing the fates of the more than 2,000 passengers and crew who embarked on the real Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage in April 1912. Learn about what life was like on board when you receive a boarding pass that replicates one carried by an actual passenger or crewmember. You’ll follow the journey of this individual throughout your visit, at the end of which you will discover his or her ultimate fate in the museum’s Memorial Room.

The Titanic Museum Attraction features an exact replica, which cost $1 million to construct, of the ship’s elegant Grand Staircase. More than $4 million-worth of actual artifacts from the ship have been incorporated into the museum experience. Your exploration of the museum may take you to the boiler room, where you’ll have a chance to shovel coal. You can also learn to operate the communications equipment and send out an “S.O.S.” distress code, feel the shifting of the deck as the ship lurches downward, sit in a lifeboat, and touch an iceberg to see just how icy-cold 28-degree water can be.

Visitors to the museum have remarked on its value as a tool for teaching history, its suitability for a wide range of ages, and the dedication of the museum’s staff to providing an exceptional learning experience. Titanic Museum Attraction owner John Joslyn served as one of the leaders of the 1987 expedition that explored and filmed the newly discovered Titanic’s wreckage. He later co-produced the popular television special Return to the Titanic – Live!

The Branson museum is sister to a similar one located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee—which just happens to be the location of another Bluegreen Resorts vacation property.