Spring is a wonderful time to visit Acadia National Park. You’ll find empty parking spots at Acadia’s top destinations, “vacancy” signs at your favorite lodgings, and a more relaxed feel in and around the park as it gears up for the busier seasons of summer and fall.
Exploring the Parks
Horace Kephart roamed the Smoky Mountains in all seasons, but he held springtime here in high esteem.
As soon as we slid the canoe into the river, the current grabbed it and pulled us towards the first rapid on our 26-mile guided trip down the East Branch of the Penobscot in the heart of Maine’s north woods. Now mid-May, it was the perfect time to run the Stream of Light, as the native Abenaki called it, in part because the black flies weren’t yet biting.
They were strangers to each other, collected by common calamity, disfigured, mortally sick, banished without sin from home and friends, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about the Kalaupapa Leper Colony in 1889.
With more than 400 units in the National Park System, trying to zoom in on any one particular park for a visit can be a challenge. Over the past 12 months the Traveler has "explored" quite a few parks, and we list those stories here to help you plan your next national park adventure.
There’s one sure-fire way for avoiding the crowds at Yosemite National Park: visit during the winter. Gone until May are the crowds that fill the Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove. You’ll love the freedom from take-a-number tourism, and be mesmerized by the pure, clean, quiet whiteness. It just might seem like you have the place all to yourself.
In the early 1800s, following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, a host of scouts, soldiers, trappers and traders began venturing from St. Louis, eager to explore and exploit the natural riches to be found in the wilderness of the West. It was America’s new economic frontier. The expansion of the fur trade would introduce new cultures and trading partners to farsighted business entrepreneurs.
Okay, let’s get the most important thing out of the way right off the bat. If you are thinking of camping using a big RV or even a small camp trailer at Caves Creek Campground not far from Oregon Caves, I have some very important advice: DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!
Quiet spreads across Big Bend National Park during the winter months, both in the lack of visitors to this grand rumpled slice of parkland in southwestern Texas as well as audibly. Silence pervades the Chihuahuan Desert, both day and night. The wind blows, but it’s felt more than heard. The Chisos Mountains are quiet as well. The cactus and Ocotillo plants look drab and thornier than usual without their brilliant spring blooms to grace and hide the sharp spikes. Cooler temperatures prevail, and occasional snow- or hail-storms punctuate the season.
As I traveled this fall, people I met would ask where I was heading. Whenever I mentioned Lassen in my list, I heard the same refrain from people who had already been there: “You’ll absolutely love it. It’s such a neat and wonderful place.” They were right. I do and it is.