Every year in April, National Park Week is celebrated in the United States to honor our parks system and the National Park Foundation. Visiting the National Parks is a great way to explore the US and discover different aspects of this country.
Created in 1916 to preserve nature and history, there are 419 areas in the system, including parks, memorials, military venues, seashores and trails. Living where I do, unfortunately there aren’t national parks within 2 hours of me (one reason why I’m focusing on writing about the Florida States Parks and not national parks, which are more familiar to people). However I’m a huge fan of National Parks and have 5 that I have on my must visit list:
I’ve always had a certain affection for Yellowstone National Park. I think it has to do with Yogi Bear. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the first United States national park. With it’s wide open spaces, geysers and amazing wild life you could easily spend your entire vacation there exploring.
But don’t take all your vacation for Yellowstone because not too far away is Grand Teton National Park. With over 200 miles of trails and lots of activities available on the Snake River, it’s an outdoor lover’s dream. Just be sure to plan your trip to Wyoming accordingly and pay close attention to the weather reports. Snow storms can cut off certain roads during the year and if you’re not experienced can also get you in some dangerous situations if you’re not prepared.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Beaches, salt marshes and wild horses. Sounds like a great trip to me! Assateague Island is located in Maryland and I’d love to go camping and kayaking there. My daughter loves photography and I think the nature photography opportunities would really excite her.
Big Cypress National Preserve
Living in Florida, I know how important the Everglades are to our state. But there’s another national park in Florida that helps support the Everglades that I would love to see – Big Cypress National Preserve. Keeping the estuaries of the state clean and a wide variety of plants and animals, including the Florida panther. There are ranger lead swamp tours in the preserve. I’m not sure I’m up for one of those yet!
African Burial Ground
Located in the heart of New York City, the African Burial Ground was discovered in the early 1990’s when construction began on a building. The activity unearthed a 6 acre burial ground of free and enslaved Africans that dates as far back as the mid-1600’s. Now a memorial, library and educational center this site shows an often forgotten part of our American history.
Grand Canyon National Park
Okay I’ll admit that wanting to go to the Grand Canyon isn’t that original. I don’t care! Anyone remember the episode of The Brady Bunch where the family goes camping in the Grand Canyon? Ever since I saw that show I’ve wanted to go.
The Grand Canyon is so large that it’s 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep. There is camping and hotels available but of course the area gets crowded so follow the National Parks tips to avoid some of those crowds. And of course stay safe. Lately there are been several deaths at the Grand Canyon that were most likely preventable. Here are some tips for safety at the Grand Canyon.
Are you ready to visit a National Park near you or while you’re on vacation? Be sure to visit the Find Your Park website, where you can narrow parks down by state or by the activity that you’re interested in.