Travel in Brief

Sections of Ohio’s largest cave system, discovered in 1897, that haven’t been seen by the public will open beginning Memorial Day weekend, increasing the amount of surveyed passageways to 31/2 miles.

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island turns 125 this year.

The 385-room hotel opened for the first time on July 10, 1887, and is planning a series of events and activities to celebrate the anniversary.

On July 10, a 125-foot birthday cake will be served to guests on the Grand Hotel’s 660-foot Front Porch. And the July 13-15, weekend will include fireworks, presentations and a concert.

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada officials have crowned six winners of a tourism cam- paign aimed at finding the state’s top “treasures,” and getting residents to visit them.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism named the winners after several rounds of online voting that narrowed a pool of nearly 600 nominations.

In the Las Vegas area, Valley of Fire State Park won over the voters. Founded in 1935, it is famous for red sandstone formations, and features petroglyphs by ancient inhabitants.

Near Reno, Minden’s Dang-berg Home Ranch Historic Park took top honors. The 4,000-square-foot, 15-room ranch was built by a German immigrant in 1857, and now operates as a museum.

In the rural north, the Star Hotel-Restaurant in Elko won. The family restaurant was established in 1910 and features Basque country cuisine.

In rural southern Nevada, the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Beatty.

On a U.S. Route 50 corridor, dubbed “Pony Express Territory,” the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely won out. The railroad was established in 1905 by the Nevada Consolidated Copper Co.

In Indian country, Pyramid Lake won out. Within the Paiute reservation about 40 miles from Reno, it is one of the largest natural lakes in Nevada and the biggest remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan.

TAOS, N.M. – Great Barrington, Mass., and Taos, N.M., top a list of “20 Best Small Towns in America” in the May issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Great Barrington, long a favorite getaway for vacationers, has a population of just 6,800 but boasts the sophistication of a larger city. It’s also surrounded by lakes and the Berkshire Mountains.

The magazine says the charm of Taos centers on tourists packing the plaza of the old adobe town, along with its many galleries and museums steeped in a Hispanic and Indian past.

The list was developed by the geographic information systems company Esri, which searched towns with populations less than 25,000 for high concentration of museums, historical sites and other cultural attractions.

Also on the list are Red Bank, N.J.; Mill Valley, Calif.; Gig Harbor, Wash.; Durango, Colo.; Butler, Pa.; Marfa, Texas; Naples, Fla.; Staunton, Va.; Brattleboro, Vt.; Princeton, N.J.; Brunswick, Maine; Siloam Springs, Ark.; Menomonie, Wis.; Key West, Fla.; Laguna Beach, Calif.; Ashland, Ore.; Beckley City, W.Va., and Oxford, Miss.

See www.smithsonianmag.com/travel.

CINCINNATI – Sections of a cave system that haven’t been open before to the public will be available for tours soon in west central Ohio just in time for the summer season.

Visitors to Ohio Caverns in West Liberty still will be able to take the tour that has been offered since 1925 at the caverns known for their array of colors and abundant stalactites and stalagmites. But beginning Memorial Day weekend, they also can choose a tour providing more historical information about the cave and a shorter one with access for the disabled – rare in caves due to the often rough terrain.

The caverns running underneath a 35-acre park in Logan and Champaign counties were formed thousands of years ago when an underground river cut through limestone, forming large rooms and passageways. Mineral deposits created highly decorative cave walls stained with red, orange, blue, purple and yellow.

The caverns, northwest of Columbus, were discovered in 1897 by a farm hand when a 30-foot-deep sinkhole opened up. The caverns typically draw about 60,000 visitors annually.

Wire reports