Ready for crystal-clear water, white sandy beaches, and vibrantly colored tropical fish? How about a dose of history, complete with prison cells, an historic fort, and stories from one of our most iconic writers? Maybe you’d like to snorkel a coral reef or see hundreds of species of birds all in one place. Well, then, it’s probably time for a day trip out to Dry Tortugas National Park on the Yankee Freedom III.
Exploring the Parks
Up in the northwest corner of Yellowstone in the middle of the valley of the Lamar River lies a place known as the Buffalo Ranch. It’s the place where most of a few remaining bison in the world were saved from extinction. It’s also the place where wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995.
A unique and well-preserved slice of Western history can be found on the west side of Death Valley National Park below Wildrose Peak. While most park visitors come to see Furnace Creek and Badwater, a sidetrip to see the row of 10 charcoal kilns is time well spent.
Texas is a diverse state, with arid plains, bustling cities, unique history, and quiet coastlines. Take a road tour and experience all of it this spring.
If you find yourself in our 50th state this spring, take a break from the beach and crowds and tourist haunts to learn a bit about how these islands formed and who the original people were. You can get a good glimpse of this by hopping an inter-island flight from Oahu to the Big Island—Hawaii—and experiencing its fascinating geology and anthropology.
The view eastward from Point Loma, at just 422 feet above the Pacific, encompasses San Diego Bay, the city skyline, and the low silhouette of the Laguna Mountains against a brilliant sky. To the west, the surf pounds rocky cliffs and the steely-blue ocean stretches to the horizon. In 1542, Spanish conquistador Juan Cabrillo, the first “tourist,” gazed across the scenic landscape from this same viewpoint.
Famous naturalist John Muir said, “The Big Tree (Sequoia gigantea) is Nature’s forest masterpiece, and . . . the greatest of living things. . . . No description can give any adequate idea of their singular majesty, much less their beauty.”
With the countdown to the National Park Service’s centennial this August down to fewer than 180 days, anticipation is building, reservations are filling, and crowds are filing into the National Park System. Last year marked the second year in a row of record national park visitation, with more than 307 million visitors exploring the park system, this year almost certainly will stretch that run to three years.
What’s in a name? Well, when you hear Hance, the Big Drop, Lost Paddle, or Lava Falls, we’re talking about some of the largest, craziest river rapids in our national parks. Interesting names, for sure, but how do they rate? We posed this question to our river rats: What are the best rapids in the parks? They came up with quite a list. So, if you’re looking for exciting and death-defying whitewater in the parks…
There are many units of the National Park System where you can explore and have fun on sand dunes – Death Valley National Park in California, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado … and Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska.