The final 12: Favorite vacation spots in the West

We asked you to tell us where to go, and you did.

And, much to your credit, not one of you suggested hell.

Instead, the more than 100 suggestions included thoughtful, articulate and, best of all, surprising ideas on your favorite vacation spots in the West.

Three editors whittled down the pile to 12 finalists, which we offer below.

Please give us your input on these 12 and tell us which are your favorites. Using that information, we’ll trim the list to six and send a reporter or two to investigate. Results will appear in the Aug. 17 Travel section, both print and online.

The finalists:

Doryman’s Inn,Newport BeachRecommended by: Caitlin TusherWhat she said: “It’s nice to know there are still some quaint and out-of-the-way places, even in O.C. . . . good access to lots of iconic SoCal sites.”

Lake LopezArroyo Grande, Calif.Recommended by: Crystal RobbinsWhat she said: “Lake Lopez in gorgeous San Luis Obispo environs gives you miles of water frontage, large sites, hiking, boating, swimming, sunbathing and other great California summer family-bonding moments. We can’t wait to go back.”

The Miner’s CottageJerome, Ariz.Recommended by: Cheryl MorganWhat she said: “A delightful place to stay while visiting Jerome, the best revived Ghost Town of the West. Lots of art, wine tasting, entertainment and shopping. Friendly people live and work here. Also, you can park your car when you arrive and not have to drive anywhere for the whole weekend.”

Imnaha, Ore.Eastern OregonRecommended by: Jane TouheyWhat she said: “It is spectacularly beautiful. I am not sure I want everybody to know about it, but I guess if you bother to go to this corner, you deserve thrill of it. Wikipedia says it has a population of 12, so I guess we met them all. Highly recommend the Imnaha River Inn.”

Mill Valley, Calif.Marin CountyRecommended by: Tony WassermanWhat he said: “It’s a bit off the beaten tourist path, but very cute and convenient to lots of interesting sites. One can stay downtown near the town square at the Mill Valley Inn. It’s an easy drive to Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods, Muir and Stinson beaches, and Bolinas. It’s the archetype of what people think of when they refer to Marin County.”

El Morro National MonumentRamah, N.M. Recommended by: Laura LaCour-JohnsonWhat she said: “This popular campsite of old bears the signatures of hundreds and petroglyphs of visitors over the years, dating back as many as 13 centuries. These have been carved into soft sandstone. You can see what’s being done to preserve these.”

A secret box canyonSomewhere in TexasRecommended by: Robert DanforthEditor’s note: One of our more intriguing entries, this one came only with map coordinates.What he said: “The most amazing place I have ever seen. A small box canyon a couple of hundred feet deep and as wide. There is no mark or note that it exists, and I have missed it several times even though I looked, but it remains the most remarkable place I have seen.”

Lava Beds National MonumentTulelake, Calif. Recommended by: Michael EverettWhat he said: “Lava Beds National Monument is fascinating. Lava Beds is riddled with lava tubes. When it’s 90 degrees you still need a jacket for walking in the lava tubes. Some of them actually have year-round ice. One of them has a fern garden growing beneath a hole in the tube’s ceiling. The walls inside are lined with pictographs. The whole thing has a feel of remoteness. “

Ft. Hunter Liggett, Mission San Antonio de Padua and Hearst’s HaciendaRecommended by: Lloyd Van HorsenWhat he said: “You enter the area on a two-lane road that winds through rolling hills, curving past vineyards and passing the communities of Lockwood and Jolon. The mission has an interesting history and has a huge, spectacular quadrangle filled with roses, statues and fountains. The 165,000-acre reservation is near King City."Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Bishop, Calif. (near Big Pine)Recommended by: Anne Marie NovingerWhat she said: “The rangers are very knowledgeable and interesting, knowing all about the trees, the science of dendrochronology (tree-ring science) and the area. There is a fine video of 18 minutes, just right for those who cannot hike or those who want an introduction to the area before hiking. The hikes are from a mile to 1 1/4 miles and are well worth the effort.”

Best Friends Animal SocietyKanab, Utah Recommended by: Michele JohnsonWhat she said: “It’s in a beautiful remote canyon with stunning views. If you want you can volunteer to work with the animals there or just take the tour.”

Sierra Vista National Scenic BywayStarting point: Two miles north of the town of North Fork on Forest Road 81.Recommended by: Susanne WaiteWhat she said: “People overlook this beautiful drive through this gorgeous route just south of Yosemite. The entire stretch from North Fork to the exit point on Highway 41, past Nelder Grove, takes about five hours. It’s typically uncrowded, but during winter parts of the road can be blocked by snow.”

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