By Planet Green
The Beauty of the Natural World
To have a picturesque vacation you don’t have to travel overseas or spend your savings on an extravagant trip. You can stay right within the United States and get to know Mother Nature a bit better. With over 58 National Parks all over the United States there is one bound to be close enough to drive to and have activities which fit your interests. Here are nine beautiful options, from East to West.
Acadia National Park is the first national park founded east of the Mississippi River. If you are planning to camp, you have two sites to choose from: Blackwoods and Seawall. Unfortunately there is no backcountry camping allowed. Bikers have the option to ride along old carriage trails, and hikers can roam to 1530 feet in an eclectic range of forestry and beauty.
In the early 1900s settlers in the south Florida region thought it would be a good idea to transform the dense, damp swamp land into dry farm land. Wrong. With the decision to drain came the erosion of miles of land and loss of valuable habitats. So in 1947 the Everglades National Park was formed. The park contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
Mammoth Cave (Kentucky)
Learn to appreciate nature from the inside out while touring the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Since 1816, tours have been given to curious thrill-seekers to discover the 392 miles of connected tunnels and caves. If you get claustrophobic, horseback riding is offered along with hikes and multiple water activities.
Image credit: daveynin / Flickr
Badlands (South Dakota)
No, this is not where Simba and Mufasa live, but home to 244,000 acres of preserved space. This kid-friendly park satisfies easy-going tours through the mix-grass prarie fields, wildflower identification classes, and learning with fossils. The best part of your trip to the Badlands will be after sunset when the night sky tours begin. Sit back and see the universe open up overhead.
Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)
Founded in 1872, Yellowstone is the first national park within the United States. Spanning across three states, this expansive landscape is home to multiple species of wildlife and the famous Old Faithful geyser. By having over 130+ years of travelers and random happenings, this park is great for the history buff.
Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
Explore 117 formed caves in the underbelly of New Mexico. Visitors are welcome to say hello to the cavernous bats who have taken up residency in the caves which were formed as sulfuric acid ate through the limestone. You can even join in the Bat Flight Program where you watch the critters fly out into the night in search of dinner.
If geology is more your thing, the 2,000 natural sandstone arches in Arches National Park in Utah will amaze you. Travel the trails by foot or by car to see sensational views. Stop by Landscape Arch, the longest natural creation, to see 306 feet of pure nature.
Mount Rainier (Washington)
We all know that camping, hiking, horseback riding are perfect activities to participate in while getting back to nature, but what happens when winter arrives? You sled and take snowshoe tours with park rangers, thatís what! You can even snowmobile to visit Sunrise, the highest point accessible by vehicle.
Founded in 1890 by the concerned conservationist, John Muir, Yosemite is one of original national parks. If you are more of a gawker, you donít want to miss the waterfalls, especially during May when the flow is fierce due to slowly melting snowfall. If you choose a more interactive activity, such as hiking, you can opt for a guided or independent route.