Exploring the Parks

Exploring The Parks: Chatham Manor At Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

"Chatham." That one word captures a rich and poignant chapter of American history spanning nearly 250 years.

Exploring the Parks: New River Gorge National River

Deep in West Virginia, the New River has cut a 1,000-foot gorge that, in places, froths with whitewater. Its V-shaped mountainsides are covered in trees. Outcrops of Nuttall sandstone packed with quartz, the gorge’s bones, show near the tops of the cliffs.

Exploring The Parks: Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

A slice of the Old West is preserved at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana. The following high-definition video of the historic site was taken by Skyworks, a British company that specializes in aerial filming, using a specially equipped helicopter.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec has nothing to do with the Aztecs of Mexico and Central America. But it does have everything to do with Ancestral Puebloans. It may be one of many places people from Chaco moved to when Chaco was abandoned. Occupation here began in about the late 1000's and flourished until around 1130. By the late 1200's, this settlement was abandoned as so many others had been. As is the case elsewhere, no one knows why.

Exploring The Parks: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, The Video

Hugging the coast of California, Golden Gate National Recreation Area might on first blush come across as a human-congested landscape, but there are places you can go that speak to the purely natural side of the park, as this video shows.

Exploring The Parks: Rendezvous at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site recently hosted its 32nd annual Fort Union Rendezvous that takes place each year during the third weekend in June. This year’s event commenced Thursday with Kids Day in the fort courtyard. Activities throughout the weekend included demonstrations of pottery making, gunsmithing, blacksmithing, bow making, flintlock firing, and frontier cooking. Muskrat skinning and brain tanning were offered for the strong of heart.

Enjoy The Wilderness Of Saguaro National Park Through This Video

With The Wilderness Act's 50th birthday being celebrated throughout the year, various units of the National Park System are taking pride in their backyard wilderness areas. In a new video produced by the National Park Service, the Saguaro Wilderness Area in Saguaro National Park is showcased.

Exploring The Parks: Dingmans Falls At Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Straddling the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a 70,000-acre swath of forests cut by a river, with tributaries flowing in throughout the parkscape. It offers a quick and easy escape from urban areas of the metropolitan New York-New Jersey, as well as from the Philadelphia area.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Island In The Sky At Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers into three distinct districts. Needles, Island in the Sky, and the Maze. There are no roads connecting them because the rivers and some very deep ditches are in the way. Island in the Sky is about a two-hour drive north of the Needles. The Maze is another matter. It can be reached only via a very long and circuitous route.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From The Needles District In Canyonlands National Park

It’s hot here. Welcome to the beginning of summer in the Southwest. Two days ago it was raining and near freezing and I was complaining about it at Mesa Verde and now it’s sweat time. But those rains have turned the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park into a veritable flower garden. Everywhere I look there are blooms.

Exploring The Parks: Fontana Lake At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Video

Fontana Lake, which ebbs along the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, is a watery aspect to the park that might get lost among the forests and mountains. But it offers a rich recreational side to the park, as this video shows.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is an old friend. I’ve been here many times. But I still have lots more to see. It’s one of those places where you could spend a lifetime and still miss some of it.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Chaco Culture National Historical Park

It’s a long, rough and dusty road from anywhere to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. But, boy, is it worth the trip! The fact that it’s such a rough trip may have a lot to do with determining the kind of people who come to visit this place carved out of the high desert of northwestern New Mexico. Unlike visitors to so many other parks, these folks have a certain quality about them that hit me right off the bat.

Exploring The Parks: Floating Nebraska’s Niobrara National Scenic River

The Niobrara River flows eastward 535 miles from the high plains of Wyoming to its confluence with the Missouri River in northeastern Nebraska. Over its course the river cuts through nearly the entire width of northern Nebraska, much of which is in the state’s scenic Sandhills region. Unlike most rivers that are fed by rainwater runoff, nearly three-quarters of the Niobrara’s flow is the result of groundwater from the vast Ogallala Aquifer.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument is one of the little gems in the crown jewels of our national parks, and even though it may not be as noticeable as its bigger cousins, it is precious just the same.

Exploring The Parks: Return To Shiloh

Over the years the two of us have visited numerous Civil War battlefields, memorials, monuments, and museums (sometimes referred to as “the cannonball circuit”), but none better than Shiloh National Military Park. Shiloh is a world apart from better-known and much busier Gettysburg. It is a superb place to walk, bike, and simply linger during an exploration of the site of this important battle during the early part of America’s Civil War.

Exploring The Parks: Fort Pickens At Gulf Islands National Seashore

Fort Pickens in GUIS
Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore is an oasis of history and nature in a sea of Florida development. It's also one end of the Florida National Scenic Trail, a flat but challenging walk.

Exploring The Parks: A Day At Buck Island Reef National Monument

From the top of the observation tower
Buck Island Reef National Monument, off the coast of Christiansted in St. Croix, the US Virgin Island is an island paradise. Snorkel, hike,watch birds and drink rum punch.

Exploring The Parks: Salt River Bay National Historical Park In St. Croix, Virgin Islands

SARI beach
Salt River Bay National Historical Park in St. Croix stirs up the imagination. It's the only known place where Christopher Columbus landed in the United States. Walk the beach, kayak and swim in the bay and check out the bioluminescent organisms in the water.

Exploring The Parks: The Forts Of San Juan National Historic Site

SAJU San Cristobal
San Juan National Historic Site, located in Old San Juan, is the highlight of any visit to Puerto Rico. Go up and down circular stairs and ramps, enter secret tunnels, look out on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and take a tour with enthusiastic, lively rangers.

Exploring The Parks: Hungary's Aggtelek National Park

Aggtelek National Park in Hungary is truly a unique park, with a sprawling and surprising cave system, an equestrian center, and miles of hiking and biking trails. Dan Swartz, a marketing assistant for the park, provided the following overview for Traveler readers.

Exploring The Parks: Gates Of The Arctic National Park And Preserve

Visiting Gates of the Arctic National Park is not easily done, but if you make the effort, the payoff is outstanding.

Exploring The Parks: Laughing Bird Caye National Park Along The Belize Barrier Reef

In less than a minute I had crossed Laughing Bird Caye National Park, a tiny sliver of sand, coconut palm trees and a tangle of mangrove along the Belize Barrier Reef in the Caribbean Sea.

Exploring The Parks: Christiansted National Historic Site

Christiansted fort
Here at the Traveler we recently asked you to comment on Which Is The Most Overlooked, Or Under Appreciated, Unit Of The National Park System? Well, after my trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, I can answer with great conviction that the three intriguing parks in St. Croix -- Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument, and Salt River Bay National Historical Park -- qualify for both overlooked and under-appreciated.

Exploring The Parks: Big Bend National Park In December

Happy Holidays, everybody! It’s almost the end of the year and after digging up some extra vacation days from beneath the couch cushions, I decided to take a mid-December road trip to Big Bend National Park

Exploring the Parks: Up And In The Mounds In Ocmulgee National Monument

OCMU - funeral mound
Ocmulgee National Monument, in Macon, Georgia, protects earth mounds from the Mississippian Period. The Earth Lodge Mound still has the original floor from more than a thousand years ago. The surrounding grounds offer a relaxing, easy, place to walk while you're exploring the monument.

Exploring The Parks: Andersonville National Historic Site--A Sad History

ANDE commemorative wall
Andersonville National Historic Site is a sad reminder of the Civil War. It's so well interpreted, it's been called the South's Holocaust Museum.

After 125 Years, Pinnacles National Monument Becomes The Nation’s Newest 'National Park'

Pinnacles National Park took 125 years to become the nation’s newest designated parkland. But it took immensely longer for the mountains to arrive at the present location 40 miles southeast of Salinas, California.

Exploring The Parks: Tracing LBJ's Footsteps

A visit to Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park allows a person to understand why our 36th U.S. president chose to return and spend the remainder of his life in the Hill Country of Texas following his five-year term in the White House.

Exploring The Parks: George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

On a warm, early fall day with brilliant sunshine and the Wabash River glistening as it flowed past the large limestone and granite building that locals affectionately call “The Memorial,” I stopped to visit George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.
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