National Parks Nobody Knows

Everybody loves Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, and with good reason. Those and other icons of the National Park System are undeniably spectacular, and to experience their wonders is well worth braving the crowds they inevitably draw.

Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But the big names are not the whole story.

The National Park System also features less known destinations that are beautiful, historic, or culturally significant—or all of the above. Some of these gems are off the beaten track, others are slowly rising to prominence, and a few are simply overshadowed by bigger, better-publicized parks.

But these national parks, monuments, historic places, and recreation areas are overlooked by many, and that’s a mistake you don’t want to make. For every Yosemite, there’s a lesser-known and less crowded park where the scenery shines and surprises.

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, released its third special edition in the popular Owner’s Guide series, “The Places Nobody Knows.”

“Our latest Owner’s Guide, ‘The Places Nobody Knows,’ invites Americans to take time to explore and enjoy some of the most spectacular, but perhaps less known, landscapes, monuments, and memorials America has to offer while taking an active role in preserving their parks,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation, in a news release.

Profiled are 25 national park destinations paired with higher-profile counterparts. So, for instance, if you love the Grand Canyon, consider a visit to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado for spectacular canyon scenery. If traffic inching along the thoroughfares leading into Great Smoky Mountains National Park has you stymied, the verdant valleys of Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio could be a smart substitute.

Not all the matched parks are worlds apart, either. For instance, the dramatic red rock spires seen in Utah’s popular Bryce Canyon National Park are also found in Canyonlands, about five hours away.

The guide helps readers discover new parks to explore by revealing the similarities that well-known national parks share with lesser-known parks.

Two examples follow.

The South Rim Drive offers the most dramatic vistas, ending at the most spectacular viewpoint, the overlook of Spider Rocks—twin 800 foot towers of rock isolated from the canyon walls, © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The South Rim Drive offers the most dramatic vistas, ending at the most spectacular viewpoint, the overlook of Spider Rocks—twin 800 foot towers of rock isolated from the canyon walls, © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you love Zion National Park…you will also love Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Known for sheer sandstone cliffs and red slot canyons contrasted against a bright blue Utah sky, Zion National Park evokes the wonder and allure of Southwest adventure, and its proximity to other popular parks—including Grand Canyon to the south and Bryce Canyon to the north—makes it a can’t-miss.

Another park should be added to this list to fulfill a grand tour de force of canyon country. Canyon de Chelly lies east of the Grand Canyon. Here, Navajo people have lived for thousands of years, finding the canyons to be prime real estate for farming and homebuilding.

Today, roughly 40 Navajo families still live within the park boundaries. Canyon de Chelly is managed through a partnership between the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation, and many areas, including the backcountry, are accessible only with a permit and an official Navajo guide. Start a visit to Canyon de Chelly at the visitor center to learn more about the history and rules at this unique place.

Similar to the Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly can be viewed from both the South Rim and North Rim. Drive and stop at several overlooks along the way, and get on foot for the short hike to White House Ruin. To see more, sign up for a guided tour.

While Canyon de Chelly will definitely be a shorter visit than Zion or Grand Canyon, the park does offer a campground where you’re bound to get a spot.

When you find yourself surrounded by twisted, spiky trees straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, you will have met the park's namesake: Joshua tree. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
When you find yourself surrounded by twisted, spiky trees straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, you will have met the park’s namesake: Joshua tree. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you love Joshua Tree National Park …you will also love Saguaro National Park

Sometimes, a plant so special comes along that a whole park is made to preserve it. That’s the case in both Joshua Tree and Saguaro National Parks.

The former and more often visited of the two—Joshua Tree—lies a short drive from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs, California, in the Mojave Desert. While aging these trees, actually members of the yucca family, is difficult, scientists estimate some in the 3,000-year-old range.

Over the border in Arizona, the Giant Saguaro, North America’s largest cactus, has a park of its own. Nestled around Tucson (the city splits the park into two districts), Saguaro National Park celebrates its namesake cactus and unique Sonoran Desert ecosystem.

What makes the Giant Saguaro so special? This native of the Sonoran Desert has a presence like a tree, standing tall on the desert landscape, and can live to 250 years, a far cry from the Joshua Tree’s life span but no slouch for a cactus.

The Sonoran Desert is one of the most unique regions in the country, with many other plant and animal species found nowhere else: roadrunners, horned lizards, Gila monsters, kangaroo rats, and several other cactus species among them.

Enormous cacti, silhouetted by the setting sun, for most of us the Giant Saguaro is the universal symbol of the American West. And yet, these majestic plants are only found in a small portion of the United States. Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants, on the edge of the modern City of Tucson.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Enormous cacti, silhouetted by the setting sun, for most of us the Giant Saguaro is the universal symbol of the American West. And yet, these majestic plants are only found in a small portion of the United States. Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants, on the edge of the modern City of Tucson.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A springtime visit promises wildflowers galore as March and April rains hydrate and paint the landscape. The park offers more than 165 miles of trails to explore.

Get your national park fix without the crowds

Check out the photo gallery of these lesser-known gems and go online for a free copy of The Places Nobody Knows.

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of the national parks, also offers a free trip-planning guide to all 400 national park entities.

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-Part series on lesser known National Parks

Part 1: National Parks without the Crowds

Part 2: Lesser Known National Park Gems

Worth Pondering…

There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle.

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Get To Know Your Parks during National Park Week

Each spring the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, invite everyone to celebrate National Park Week.

NPW_DENA_DiscoveryCamp_NPS-Nathan-Kostegian_520px_3This year, from April 20–28, YOU are invited to get to know your national parks.

All national park entrance fees will be waived from Monday, April 22 to Friday, April 26 to encourage citizens to enjoy unique outdoor experiences as part of the annual National Park Week supported by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service.

So, whether it is your first trip, or the latest of many memorable park experiences, there couldn’t be a better time to get out and explore.

All of America’s parks belong to YOU.

Take this opportunity to learn how you can take an active role in preserving these special places. Help pass along our country’s rich history and beautiful landscapes to the next generation.

Did you know…America’s national parks include more than:

  • 84 million acres of spectacular scenery, historic landmarks and cultural treasures
  • 17,000 miles of trails
  • 43,000 miles of shoreline
  • 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures
  • 100 million museum items
  • 12,000 campsites
  • 99 percent of counties in America have recreational facilities such as playgrounds and trails funded by the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund
Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take part in an activity during National Park Week and hike, learn, share, and give back in the nation’s 401 national parks!

So, if you are looking for something fun and fantastic to do with family and friends, head out to America’s national parks where millions of stars light up the dark night sky, deer, and antelope (and a few other critters!) play on the wide open range, and history is an unbelievable experience, not an exam.

National Park Week is the perfect opportunity to introduce a young person to a national park because a park is the perfect place to get active and stay fit.

From hiking to biking to swimming, nature walks, kayaking, or bird watching, there are great outdoor activities in national parks for visitors of all ages. By introducing kids to these majestic places, we give the gift of learning a healthy lifestyle and help guarantee the future of parks for generations to come.

You can plan your visit by what you want to do, or where you want to go … or you can browse the event calendar and check out the special programs offered that week.

On April 20, National Junior Ranger Day, parks will invite young visitors to “explore, learn, protect” and be sworn in as Junior Rangers.

April 27 is Volunteer Day, so if you want to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a project, look for a park where you can help out.

Also, don’t forget to check out www.nationalparkweek.org. There you can share your national park photos, videos, and tips. While you’re there, learn all about the ways you can help support your national parks all year round.

Get to know one of your national parks during National Park Week.

Details

National Park Service

Arches is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Arches is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks.

With the help of volunteers and park partners, the park service is proud to safeguard these special places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites in America’s 397 national parks.

Website: nps.gov

Worth Pondering…

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983

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2012 National Parks Fall Foliage Guide

As summer comes to a close, the bright blues and greens that characterize the sunshiny season are replaced by a deeper, more vibrant palette.

But there are so many destinations to choose from, each with their own unique rainbow of fall colors.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) wants you to get outdoors and enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular seasons in your national parks.

In announcing the 2012 National Parks Fall Foliage Guide the NPF says, “These parks boast exceptional fall colors, however they represent only a few of the national park sites where foliage lovers can enjoy the spectacular spectrum of the season’s palette.”

The list below includes information on region-specific flora as well as estimated timing on the peak of their colors:

Nez Perce National Historical Park (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington)

Peak foliage times range across the rivers, canyons, prairies, and mountains of this park which overlaps four states. The short-grass prairies of White Bird Battlefield (ID) and Spalding (ID) peak around mid to late October.  The plains and plateaus of the sagebrush steppe eco-region include a site called Buffalo Eddy (WA) where fall foliage also peaks around mid to late October.

Steamtown National Historic Site (Pennsylvania)

Board one of Steamtown National Historic Site’s special fall excursion runs through this brilliant countryside and you can feast your eyes on the colors of the season in the comfort of a coach. (Source: NPS)

Take a ride back in time on a 1920s era passenger car, with either a 1917-built steam or historic diesel-powered locomotive, to combine a view of the autumn scenery with the history of railroading. Peak is estimated to be October 7-20.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (New York)

Visit the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s home around mid-October to see the changing colors of oak-tulip tree, hickory, and copper beech. Sagamore Hill Day, a Fall Family Festival giving tribute to the agricultural heritage of the site, is conveniently planned for October 20 which is also Theodore Roosevelt’s 154th birthday!

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (Wisconsin, Minnesota)

The St. Croix and Namekagon rivers create a 255-mile corridor with a variety of color from one end to the other, including maple, aspen, oak, and birch trees. Visit this park soon, as leaves are changing quickly, with peak colors from now through mid-October.

Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky) 

Foliage at this park includes the changing colors of black gum, poison ivy, and dogwood, peaking from mid to late October. Join the Friends of Mammoth Cave for a Walk-In-The-Park on October 6, and choose one of three different walks that are sure to suit your interests and abilities while allowing the perfect opportunity to support the park and view a variety of fall colors.

Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi) 

The location of a critical battle in the Civil War, this park has a brief period of fall foliage, usually lasting from mid-October through mid-November. Visitors can see changes in the hickory, pecan, and black walnut trees, among many others. Plan a visit around October 27, and the kids can participate in a “Shape Up, Junior Ranger Owl Discovery Walk.” This 1-mile walk teaches more about the park’s nighttime creatures, and is the perfect chance to test out this year’s Halloween costume.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park (Texas) 

For a fantastic foliage tour, start with a drive through the LBJ Ranch and tour the Texas White House. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the Hill Country of Texas, leaves at this park change from mid-October through the end of November. The sumac, oaks, and haw holly add bursts of fall colors, while the pecans cover the ground and the purple flowers of the gay feather herb enhance the color palette and autumn atmosphere. For a fantastic foliage tour, start with a drive through the LBJ Ranch and tour the Texas White House. Make your way into Johnson City to visit the Boyhood Home and finish out your tour with a walk down the nature trail to the Johnson Settlement and the 1960s cabin and barns.

Flight 93 National Memorial (Pennsylvania)

This national memorial, dedicated to the brave passengers and crew of Flight 93 who fought back against terrorism on September 11, 2001, encompasses 2,200 acres of rolling hills, wild flowers, wetlands, and old-growth and newly planted trees.  Once a coal mine, this location has experienced a breathtaking rebirth as a place of national honor and reflection.  Peak viewing times span early to mid-October, but if you can’t get there in person, you can enjoy the foliage from the park’s live webcam.

Timeless in simplicity and beauty,
like its landscape, both stark and serene,
the Memorial should be quiet in reverence,
yet powerful in form,
a place both solemn and uplifting.
Paul Murdoch, Architect
(Source: NPS)

Several factors affect the intensity of fall shades at each park including moisture, temperature, and length of sunlight exposure. Visitors are strongly encouraged to contact parks directly for specific information on seasonal events and optimal viewing periods.

Details

National Park Foundation (NPF)

You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites—all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks.

NPF works hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.

Website: nationalparks.org

Share the Experience

With its breathtaking colors, autumn is also the perfect time to photograph nature’s beauty and the national parks can provide infinite inspiration. Amateur photographers are invited to submit their photos to the 12th annual Share the Experience photography contest for the chance to have their image selected for use on the America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

Share the Experience entries will be accepted through December 31, 2012. For a complete list of rules and prizes as well as submit your photos, check the website below.

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America’s national parks and federal recreation lands. Sponsored by Active Network, Destination America, Historic Hotels of America, and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.

Website: sharetheexperience.org

Worth Pondering…

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983

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Get Outdoors with L.L.Bean during National Parks Week

During National Park Week outdoor retailer L.L.Bean is asking Americans to take advantage of free admission and visit a park.

By sharing your photos and stories online, you’ll help raise $1 million for the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, as part of the Million Moment Mission.

The Million Moment Mission is L.L.Bean’s way of celebrating a century of outdoor leadership as it helps the next generation discover their love of the outdoors in its 100th Anniversary year.

When consumers share their stories or photos of outdoor experiences online they’ll be helping to inspire someone else. To date, more than 200,000 “moments” have been shared in the year-long campaign. The program benefits the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea program which brings youth from underserved communities into the parks for outdoor excursions.

Today, more than ever, families recognize the need to encourage kids to get outdoors to play, yet a recent survey shows parents still say their children spend, on average, less than an hour a day outdoors.

L.L.Bean is working to help reverse that trend through creative partnerships with organizations like the National Park Foundation. L.L.Bean offers a free park finder tool to help make it simple to find a park that suits your needs in your local area.

According to L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School guide Greg Dorman learning the basic of outdoor recreation at a young age is the key to developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

“At L.L.Bean the outdoors is in our DNA,” Dorman said, “Our company founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, was the quintessential outdoorsman. He believed that spending time outdoors could add years to your life.”

To help raise awareness about the Million Moment Mission campaign and the benefits of being outdoors, the L.L.Bean Bootmobile will be traveling the country during 2012.

The 13-foot high and 20-foot long vehicle left Boston last week on a Spring/Summer tour designed to raise awareness and funds to help more children learn about and enjoy the national parks.

The Bootmobile and L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School guides will accompany the Bootmobile, providing free advice and outdoor recreation instruction. For every person who attends these events, $1 will be donated to the National Park Foundation.

While the Bootmobile is educating consumers outdoors, indoors L.L.Bean is also launching new advertising online and in movie theaters to help inspire people to get outside and explore nature this summer.

The “Discover Something” campaign features video spots of three L.L.Bean customers who tell their story of outdoor discovery and the rewards of spending time outdoors.

Steve Gadecki, one of the customers profiled in the Discover Something videos, has visited 18 national parks and hiked more than 100 mountains with his L.L.Bean backpack over 15 years.

According to Gadecki, “It’s a real sense of pride in your country when you’re standing in front of Half Dome or the majestic Sequoias. Looking down upon the Grand Canyon or hiking up the rocky coast of Acadia. Everything in your life seems to make sense and even though it was a journey to get there, you’re glad you made it. If you’ve ever thought about going, why are you waiting? Don’t hesitate. Go!”

With the theme—if you think there’s nothing left to explore, just get outside and find something new to discover—the spots are being featured in theaters nationwide and at llbean.com.

Details

L.L.Bean, Inc.

L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe.

The 200,000 square foot L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, Maine, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and welcomes more than 3 million visitors every year.

Website: llbean.com

Worth Pondering…

Two roads diverged in a wood, and

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

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Picture Yourself in a National Park

Picture yourself in a National Park as the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation present National Park Week 2012, April 21–29.

With nearly 400 national parks—and FREE admission all week long—there are thousands of ways to enjoy this highly anticipated annual event. In fact, National Park Week is the perfect opportunity to introduce a young person to a national park because a park is the perfect place to get active and stay fit.

From hiking to biking to swimming, nature walks, kayaking, or bird watching, there are great outdoor activities in national parks for visitors of all ages. By introducing kids to these majestic places, we give the gift of learning a healthy lifestyle and help guarantee the future of parks for generations to come.

“During National Park Week, stroll a woodland path or around the grounds of a presidential home. Kayak through a mangrove forest or on an urban waterway. All 397 national parks are great places to get some exercise while taking in spectacular scenery or learning something new,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Whether you go to a natural, historical, or recreational site, or an urban, suburban, or rural park, every national park provides a place to exercise both the body and the mind. There really is something for everyone in every national park.”

A highlight for most visitors to Capitol Reef is the scenic drive from the visitors center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“National Park Week is the perfect time to experience all that our national parks have to offer,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation.

“It is also an invitation to join the community of national park supporters. Visit, volunteer or get involved with the Foundation or any one of the local friends groups that support our parks. Together, we can make this National Park Week one to remember.”

Following are several great ways to get some exercise and enjoy National Park Week:

  • Take a Hike: There are 18,600 miles of trails in national parks. Hit the trail for a short hike or a day-long expedition. Cross the Continental Divide on the High Line Trail in Glacier, go vertical on the Moro Rock Trail in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, or tackle a section of the Appalachian Trail. If you’d like to hike with an expert, many parks offer daily ranger-led guided tours, including the Everglades, Jean Lafitte, and Hot Springs.
  • Dive In: Enjoy 43,000 miles of national park shoreline. Walk on the beach, go for a swim, snorkel an underwater trail in the Virgin Islands, or dive the aquamarine water and fish-bejeweled coral reefs of Biscayne or the kelp forests and sea caves of Channel Islands. Or, take a canoe or kayak ride through Big Cypress to observe manatees and birds.
  • Go Underground: Travel below the surface and discover the dazzling sights found along more than 900 miles of passageways in caves. Check out Mammoth Cave—the longest cave in the world or the 14-acre Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns. If you are really adventurous, sign up for a spelunking trip.
  • Sleep under the Stars: Experience the simple pleasure of an evening campfire, sleep in the great outdoors, and wake up in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the world. Choose your setting—mountain, ocean, or even city view. The 12,000 campsites in national parks include spots in New York City and in Boston.
  • Go For a Ride: Some of the prettiest scenery you’ll ever see is along the 5,450 miles of paved road in national parks. In fact, 1,100 miles are designated parkways designed especially for sightseeing. Just be sure to get out of the car at overlooks or trailheads and stretch your legs. It’s amazing what you will find not far off the road. Wander to a waterfall at Shenandoah or meander through a meadow at Rocky Mountain. 
  • View Wildlife: National parks are the best places to view wildlife in their natural habitats. Don’t get too close but enjoy seeing everything from baby birds to two-ton bison in a park. Watch the strutting grouse perform its annual courtship dance in Grand Teton or the spring migration of grey whales at Point Reyes. Or, encounter prehistoric wildlife such as a saber tooth cat at Badlands or a Stegosaurus at Dinosaur. There are 233 national parks with preserved fossils, some which date back two billion years.
  • Take to Two Wheels: One of the most popular things to do in a park is ride a bike. You set your own pace and can easily stop to relax or take in the view when and where you want. One of the newest bike trails was recently built in New River Gorge. More than 1,400 Boy Scouts and leaders volunteered 78,544 hours to construct a 12.8-mile mountain bike trail. Other popular parks for biking include Acadia which has 45 miles of old carriage roads, Canyonlands, home of the 103-mile White Rim Road loop, and the C&O Canal and its 184-mile long towpath.

Details

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazingly diverse area of sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, extraordinarily rugged mountains, granitic monoliths, and oases. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be sure to share photos, videos, and stories from your national park travels.

The site also contains a calendar of events and plenty of information on how to visit and support national parks.
Website: nationalparkweek.org

Worth Pondering…
I only went for a walk, and finally concluded to stay till sundown, for going out I found was really going in.

—John Muir

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MapQuest Launches Web-based Guide for National Park Week

National Parks Week 2012 is April 21 to 29, and the National Park Service has joined forces with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to offer free admission to all 397 national parks.

To coincide with the week-long celebration, MapQuest has launched a web-based guide to the natural wonders of the National Parks.

The new guide contains detailed descriptions of 58 major destinations, plus tips on where to enjoy popular activities, wildlife, and learn about park history.

Select MapQuest park entries also feature vivid HD video, eye-catching photography, and special insiders’ commentary by park rangers.

MapQuest National Parks

The MapQuest team is a collection of adventure seekers, backcountry hikers, photography enthusiasts, and family road trippers.

America’s national parks hold a dear place “in our hearts as an amazing collection of destinations preserving some of our nation’s most treasured natural, cultural, and historical resources. We want to share that passion with you in MapQuest National Parks.”

As you explore this site, “we hope you will experience the same awe and wonder at the incredible vistas, stunning natural features, and incredibly preserved history that inspired us as we created this project.”

With park rangers as your guide, explore six of the most visited parks by video:

  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Grand Teton
  • Grand Canyon
  • Great Smoky Mountains

And enjoy the feature photography by QT Luong, a world-renowned nature and adventure photographer who captured riveting images in all 58 national parks.

“We hope this project will bring inspiration as you make your travel plans for summer and beyond. National Parks Week, coming up April 21-29, is a great opportunity to get out and experience the national parks around the country free of charge. We wish you happy and safe travels!”

Website: parks.mapquest.com

Arches National Park: A Sample

Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 sandstone arches, natural bridges, towers, rock fins, and other awesome formations. You’ll want to take in its wonders, hike its scenic trails, and explore its canyons.

From ancestral foraging and hunting grounds, to rugged frontier, to tourism hot spot, Arches has shared a variety of special relationships with humans throughout its history. In the last century, the citizens of nearby Moab have worked to promote the park not only as a symbol of the city, but also of Utah itself.

Delicate Arch, the most widely-recognized landmark in the park, has appeared on Utah’s license plates and postage stamps. Interestingly, it and many more of the park’s famous sightseeing spots were not included in its original land grant, when it was founded as Arches National Monument in 1929.

However, expansions of the park’s territory protect more than its iconic rock features — Arches National Park’s delicate, intricate ecosystems are home to an abundance of specially adapted wildlife, including some species on the road to recovery.

Arches National Park (Source: parks.mapquest.com)

Facilities at the park are somewhat limited.

If you’re looking to camp in Arches, it’s advisable to make a reservation.

Additional RV parks and amenities can be found in and around Moab.

Park Information and Details

Located in Utah

Established: 11/12/1971 (36 of 58)

Size: 76,678.98 (43 of 58)

Visitation in 2011: 1,040,749 (17 of 58)

Worth Pondering…

Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
— John Muir

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Celebrate February with Romantic National Park Getaways

With Valentine’s Day upon us and President’s Day long weekend fast approaching, February is the perfect time to plan a romantic activity or getaway in one of America’s nearly 400 national parks.

In fact, on Monday, February 20 all parks are free to visitors. So, whether you only have an evening or the entire holiday weekend, the national parks are an ideal destination for a romantic retreat this month.

Today, just in time for Valentine’s Day, the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, launched the first-ever National Park Foundation online store where you can buy your loved ones “I heart parks” apparel and other national park gear.

Go online (details below) and select the perfect gift for your favorite national park enthusiasts. Proceeds from each purchase support the National Park Foundation’s mission to help and protect America’s nearly 400 national parks.

Once properly outfitted, you will be ready to enjoy one of the National Park Foundation’s suggestions for romantic park experiences. Find out more about these adventures and many more at the National Park Service’s events calendar.

Watch the sunset at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (California)

Join a ranger for an easy hike to Rancho Sierra Vista and enjoy the romantic scenery as the sun sets and the evening wildlife comes alive. Bring binoculars and flashlight. Meet at main parking lot at 5pm. All ages welcome. Rain cancels. Event details here.

Paddle together in the Florida Bay at Everglades National Park (Florida)

Start the day off right with a Flamingo Morning Canoe Trip through freshwater marsh and mangrove swamp while enjoying a variety of wildlife including birds, dolphins and manatees. Event details here.

Enjoy a scenic wagon ride in Oxon Cove Park/Oxon Hill Farm (Maryland)

Relax and enjoy a scenic wagon ride through the park to discover some of the natural and cultural jewels of Oxon Cove Park. Event details here.

Take your love bird on a birding adventure at Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)

Padre Island National Seashore is one of the top birding places in the nation. Join us as we take you on a birding tour to various parts of the island. Event details here.

Walk along the beach at Virgin Islands National Park (Virgin Islands)

Take a stroll along Trunk Bay, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and then spend the afternoon exploring the 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail. Event details here.

Whether it is on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, it is the generous support of individuals, foundations and corporations that allow the National Park Foundation to continue its Congressionally-chartered mission to support and protect America’s treasured national parks.

Details

National Park Foundation

You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites—all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. Working hand in hand with the National Park Service, the Foundation connects you and all Americans to the parks, and ensures that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.

Join the National Park Foundation in supporting your national parks—this is your land.

Website: nationalparks.org

National Park Foundation Online Store

Do you love your national parks? Show your support by wearing National Park Foundation gear.

Website: YourParkStore.com

Worth Pondering…
Look at the stars lighting up the sky: no one of them stays in the same place.
—Seneca

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L.L.Bean Celebrates 100th Anniversary with National Park Foundation Partnership

The National Park Foundation, the official non-profit of America’s national parks, and L.L.Bean announced a year-long effort to increase outdoor recreation among families and introduce more children to America’s national parks than ever before.

The Million Moment Mission is a program created in celebration of L.L.Bean’s 100-year anniversary to provide $1 million in support to the National Park Foundation’s “America’s Best Idea” program through a national movement to share stories, ideas, and photos of outdoor experiences.

This program is launched on the heels of a survey jointly created by L.L.Bean and the National Park Foundation which found that not only are children today not spending as much time outdoors as their parents did, more than a third of parents say they prefer to spend time indoors and 59 percent report that busy schedules often make it a challenge to get outside.

“Our founder, Leon Leonwood believed that spending time outdoors was fundamental to happiness in life. This belief was the guiding principal our company was founded on and still continues to drive us in all we do, 100 years later,” said Chris McCormick, CEO of L.L.Bean, in a news release.

“Through the decades we have received many letters and stories from people sharing their passion for nature and outdoor recreation. In the world we live in today we have the ability to share and influence the conversation in a way we hope will re-ignite America’s love affair with the great outdoors and help families pass that passion on to the next generation.”

“There is no better way to safeguard our nation’s treasures and inspire new generations of outdoor enthusiasts then by introducing a young person to our national parks,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. Through the America’s Best Idea grant program the National Park Foundation is helping to bring youth from underserved communities into the parks for outdoor excursions year round where they will participate in a variety of educational and experiential activities.

“We’re passing on a legacy to the next generation and we hope individuals will get outdoors, show their support for the national parks, and help L.L.Bean reach their Million Moment Mission.”

National Parks — A Year-Round Treasure

According to National Park Foundation, many people don’t realize winter is one the most magnificent times to visit our national parks with beautiful scenery and smaller crowds. The survey showed slightly more than one in four people (28 percent) say they have never visited a national park.

Whether viewing the snowcapped rim of the Grand Canyon, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the magical backdrop of Maine’s Acadia National Park, or enjoying the temperate waters of south Florida’s Biscayne Bay—winter is an excellent time to experience the magic of America’s national parks in a whole new way.

At Yellowstone National Park, for example, just five percent of the annual three million visitors come during the winter months, and at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave State Park and many other parks across the country, it’s possible to receive a personal guided tour by park rangers who, in the summer, would be hosting tours for large groups.

Making the Most of Winter Outdoor Moments

Let's Go RVing to Montezuma Castle National Monument. Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“One of the barriers to getting outdoors this time of year can simply be the temperatures for many,” L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School guide Rob Hutchison said.

In fact, weather was the number one reason parents gave for staying indoors.

Note: This is the first of a 2-part series on the L.L. Bean partnership with National Parks Foundation

Part 2: L.L.Bean Supports National Park Foundation’s with Million Moment Mission

Worth Pondering…
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

The winds will flow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

—John Muir

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Celebrate the Season with Hooray for the Holidays Sweepstakes

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, yesterday (December 19) launched its Hooray for the Holidays sweepstakes.

From December 19 through December 23, the National Park Foundation celebrates the holiday season by giving away exciting national park prize packs to five lucky entrants. By going to the National Park Foundation Facebook page, visitors can enter to win one of the five National Park Foundation prize packs which include plane tickets, the “America the Beautiful” park pass, gift cards, apparel, and more!

Between December 19 and 23, a new national park prize pack will be awarded. Entrants are encouraged to enter once daily for the duration of the sweepstakes. For full sweepstake rules and description of prizes, go to the National Park Facebook page.

During this season of giving, there are many ways to show your support of America’s national parks. Below, are just a few of the ways your holiday gift can help preserve America’s most treasured places.

Give the Gift of the Parks

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Look no further! Visit the National Park Foundation and give the gift of America’s national parks. Make a donation this holiday season to the National Park Foundation on behalf of your friends and loved ones and you will receive a special printable certificate to include in a stocking or under your Christmas tree.

You will have the satisfaction of knowing that your gift to the National Park Foundation, the only national non-profit that directly supports the national parks, will make a difference in preserving America’s treasures.

This year, donations to the National Park Foundation between now and December 31 will be doubled! Thanks to the generosity of the National Park Foundation board, all year-end gifts will be matched up to $75,000! Your year-end gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar—ensuring that our national parks will be here for the next generation to enjoy.

Park enthusiast can also use the National Park Foundation’s Gift Guide to shop for gifts that give back to the parks.

Unique gifts available include National Park Games, Tango Card, National Park Coins, J. Crew T-Shirts, Passport To Your National Parks, and National Park Foundation Collection of Fine Canvas and Leather Goods.

Details

National Park Foundation

You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites—all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. Working hand in hand with the National Park Service, the Foundation connects you and all Americans to the parks, and ensures that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.

Join the National Park Foundation in supporting your national parks—this is your land.

National Park Foundation Website: nationalparks.org

National Park Foundation Facebook page: facebook.com

National Park Foundation on Twitter: twitter.com

National Park Foundation Holiday Gift Guide: nationalparks.org/explore

Worth Pondering…

Wilderness settles peace on the soul.

—E.O. Wilson

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Happy Holidays from the National Park Service

The National Park Service is rolling out videos carrying holiday greetings from national parks across the country. The videos feature rangers from Joshua Tree National Park in California to Arches National Park in Utah to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

The Joshua Tree is just one of hundreds of plants native to this national park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every day through December 31, one of the videos will be featured on the National Park Service’s YouTube channel and announced via Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent news release.

“We welcome more than 280 million visitors to their national parks every year,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The videos are a great way to send our best wishes for the holidays to those folks who spent time in a national park this year or may be thinking about a trip in the future. Our rangers are a creative bunch, and their greetings reflect the spirit of the parks they care for on behalf of the American people. I hope people enjoy them.”

A handful of these videos were shared with more than 20,000 people assembled on the Ellipse in Washington, DC, on December 1 for the National Christmas Tree Lighting in cooperation with the National Park Foundation.

The schedule:

December 13 – Yosemite National Park, California
December 14 – Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska (video #1
December 15 – Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi
December 16 – Biscayne National Park, Florida (video #1)

Arches is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

December 17 – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (American Sign Language)
December 18 – Glacier National Park, Montana
December 19 – Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida
December 20 – Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia
December 21 – Everglades National Park, Florida
December 22 – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (Spanish)
December 23 – Biscayne National Park, Florida (video #2)
December 24 – Arches National Park, Utah
December 25 – San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico
December 26 – Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
December 27 – Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina
December 28 – Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Georgia
December 29 – Biscayne National Park, Florida (video #3)
December 30 – Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska (video #2)
December 31 – Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Tennessee

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National Park Service

The Native Indians named the valley Shenandoah, mean¬ing Daughter of the Stars, for the expansive firmament that roofed their world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites in America’s 397 national parks.

Website: nps.gov

National Park Service’s YouTube channel

Website: youtube.com

National Park Service Facebook

Website: facebook.com

National Park Service Twitter

Website: twitter.com

National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation is the national charitable partner of the National Park Service.

Website: nationalparks.org

Worth Pondering…

The nation behaves well when it treats the natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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