Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler
While spring in some parks (mostly those in the Rockies, Sierra, and Pacific Northwest) is rightfully described as “mud season,” there are some great early season hikes—and some wonderful camping—to be found across the National Park System. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights.
I had two job offers the summer before my junior year of high school. I chose the job that came with new boots.
West Yellowstone is one of the smaller gateway towns you’ll find in the National Park System...which isn’t such a bad thing.
Often the health of our rivers, lakes, and streams in the National Park System is endangered by something we don’t immediately see. Such is the case in Arkansas, where a hog farm less than 6 miles upstream from the Buffalo National River poses an industrial threat to the river.
“Pirates used to hide in these keys,” Carlos, our guide, tells us as our boat swings behind a small, steep-sided island. Numerous forested islets dot the shoreline like floating haystacks. “English and French pirates hid in Samaná Bay to ambush Spanish gold ships leaving Santa Domingo. The 58 cays and inlets made perfect hiding places.”
Winter had loosened its icy grip on the high country. Faint stirrings from burrows and dens and caves led the young critters into a new world of running water, budding plants, and warm sunshine. Warm weather and life springs abundant.
Spring. It's a fresh, vibrant season in the National Park System, one of renewal, for the parks’ wildlife, vegetation, and even for human visitors. After long, dark months of cold and snow across much of the system, the arrival of March, April, and May provide greater warmth, daylight, and access in the parks.
They are some of the most acrobatic fish you’ll ever encounter, hurtling their silver bodies high out of rivers when motorboats pass by. But Asian carp that have been invading the Mississippi River drainage the past two decades pose a serious threat to both the native fish in the Great Lakes and Minnesota’s waters and to regional economies.
It’s just two days on the river, but the section of the Colorado River that flows through Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park is one of the best not only in the West but in the entire country for whitewater aficionados and admirers of spectacular red rock scenery.
Of Minnesota’s fabled 10,000 lakes, none are so pristine, so haunting, so alluring to anglers, boaters, and campers as the rockribbed lakes of the north woods, where the cry of loons and howl of wolves soar over the gray water.
“Running on empty” unfortunately is a very apt description of the Colorado River Basin, which long has had its water overcommitted. Today, the vast watershed that stretches from the mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California and helps nourish some 30 million residents in the Southwest and Mexico is mired in a long-running drought that threatens to dramatically recast the already-arid region.
Channel Island Outfitters can lead you through the caves and down into the kelp forests of Channel Islands National Park, a remote and isolated realm that is home to a unique faunal assemblage.
You have to get wet to truly appreciate Biscayne National Park in South Florida. Gazing out across Biscayne Bay, and beyond Hawk Channel into the Atlantic Ocean, you can take in the expanse of the park’s surface, but none of the wonders that lurk beneath.
With the travel season not too far off, you should be planning your national park adventures. If you're looking for a great scenic drive, we offer the following for your consideration.
Dinosaur National Monument's two rivers, the Yampa and the Green, should be justification enough to formally describe Dinosaur as a "national park;" they offer some of the best rafting in the West.
Despite its size, the 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake Bay Watershed struggles with pollution problems that degrade its waters.
Roderick Nash's 5th edition of his seminal work, Wilderness and the American Mind, should serve as a reminder of the underlying value of nature in the raw, a value that shouldn't be trivialized.
Massive, water-stained bluffs soaring over 500 feet above your canoe or kayak; the highest waterfall between the Appalachians and the Rockies; potential campsites on gravel bars along over a hundred miles of clear, free-flowing river; all this and more make the Buffalo National River a worthy addition to your list of must-do float trips.
We look to national park vacations as a healthy lifestyle ingredient, one filled with fun, laughter, and lasting memories. Not on our agendas is worrying about mercury in the fish we pull from mountain streams, droughts that would beach our boats, or industrial and agricultural pollution that impairs the very waters we enjoy in the parks. Sadly, those issues aren’t foreign to the National Park System.
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.
How can you decide on a paddling trip in the National Park System, and how do you find an outfitter who can help you have the time of your life? Here are some pointers to follow.
Visiting Gates of the Arctic National Park is not easily done, but if you make the effort, the payoff is outstanding.
I've often said that if you've seen one Grand Canyon you've seen them all. Well, that does make some sense because, after all, there's really just only one in the world. And deep in the bottom of this desert chasm lays the main culprit of erosion, the granddaddy of all American waterways: the Colorado River. It's the big ticket, the plum, the one that challenges all paddlers and rowers.
Paddling down a river or across a lake in a national park setting is truly a wonderful, memorable experience, one that carries thrills and life-long memories. You can retrace the historic 19th-century journey of John Wesley Powell, or land on a lodgepole pine-studded shore where camp is set under swaying trees and the evening brings a vivid sunset.