On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turns 100. What’s the perfect gift for a centennial birthday? Yourself!
Get out there and enjoy America’s National Parks! Here are five ways you can celebrate:
Paddle a River
The marked Cedar Creek Canoe Trail winds approximately 15 miles through the Congaree National Park (South Carolina), starting at Bannister’s Bridge and going all the way to the Congaree River. Paddling Cedar Creek requires visitors to bring their own canoe or kayak with them, unless participating in a guided tour.
Tackle world-class whitewater on the New River Gorge National River in southern West Virginia. The upper part of the river (southern section) features rapids ranging from Class I to Class III and include long pools of steady water, whereas the Lower Gorge of the New River (northern section) is far more difficult in comparison with Class III to Class V rapids, littered with large boulders and strong currents. Commercial outfitters conduct trips down the river from April through October.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park tells the story of America’s 36th President beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch. This entire “circle of life” gives the visitor a unique perspective into one of America’s most noteworthy citizens by providing the most complete picture of any American president.
Visit Harpers Ferry National Historic Park to learn about John Brown’s raid—the spark that ignited the Civil War. Tour historic buildings, watch living history demonstrations and soak in the natural beauty of the overlook at Jefferson Rock, which was named after Thomas Jefferson, who stood on the rock October 25, 1783, and later wrote of the experience in in his “Notes on the State of Virginia.” He described the view as “one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.”
Climb a Rock
Along with breathtaking scenery, America’s national parks provide some of the best rock climbing available in the world. There are more than 4,500 established rock climbing routes contained within the 100,000 acres of Joshua Tree National Park.
Located within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park includes glaciers, rugged rock faces, and steep inclines—all the features rock climbers desire.
Unlike many rock climbing areas that contain harder rock faces, the relatively soft sandstone contained within Zion National Park in Utah requires advanced climbing skills and appropriate technical equipment to navigate its rock faces. Visitor centers located within the park provide useful climbing information.
There are over a hundred lakes and a thousand miles of streams in Yellowstone National Park; nowhere in the world are so many public rivers and streams found in such a condensed area. Seven varieties of gamefish live in Yellowstone: cutthroat, rainbow, brown, brook, and lake trout, along with grayling and mountain whitefish. Only cutthroats, grayling, and mountain whitefish are native to the Park.
You’ll find great fishing and plenty of public access points on the three rivers in the National Parks of Southern West Virginia. The New River is known for its wide variety of bass, as well as walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, and flathead, and channel catfish. The Gauley River (National Recreation Area) is great for trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, and muskellunge, while the favored game fish on the Bluestone National Scenic River are smallmouth bass, rock bass, and bluegill.
Take a Hike
Great hiking is found in most all national parks. Premier hiking trails include the Endless Wall Trail inside New River Gorge National River, Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park, Hoh River Trail in Olympia National Park, Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Angels Landing and The Narrows in Utah’s Zion National Park, Delicate Arch and Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, and Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Combination Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Please Note: This is part of an on-going series on America’s National Parks Centennial
We didn’t inherit the earth; we are borrowing it from our children.
—Native American Proverb