National parks are some America’s greatest treasures, but unfortunately, they often go unseen by those who are distracted by the everyday stresses of school and work and those choose to visit beaches or amusement parks instead. And sure, those kinds of trips can be fun, but the national parks deserve a little love and recognition when it comes to getting outdoors. So here are some parks you should try to visit this summer while the sun is shining and the days are long.
1. Zion National Park — Utah
With epic mountain panoramas and steep cliffs, it’s pretty clear that Zion National Park is one place you don’t want to miss out on visiting. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions, Zion boasts beautiful Navajo sandstone and is the perfect place to catch unique wildlife, take pictures or go one of the many hikes that the Zion Valley has to offer.
2. Yosemite National Park — California
You can’t talk about national parks without talking about Yosemite. Located in Northern California, Yosemite’s towering mountains and rock structures will sweep you away as you wonder how it is possible for such scenery to exist in real life. Well, it does. And it comes with rock climbing expeditions, tours and hikes, all with the chance of spotting one of the infamous Yosemite bears along the way.
3. Joshua Tree National Park — California
If you’re up for a desert camping trip, consider visiting Joshua Tree National Park, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet. Reserve one of the many sites and sleep under the stars, or take a hike and catch some of the coyotes, tortoises and other wild animals that live in the park.
4. Isle Royale National Park — Michigan
Embrace isolation and take a trip to Isle Royale National Park, a remote island located in Michigan. Catch wildlife such as moose and wolves, and enjoy a hike through the lush greenery and clear waterways. If it’s hot out, you can also take a canoe or kayak out, or even go on a dive (if you’re certified) in Lake Superior to discover shipwrecks hidden beneath the waters.
5. Cuyahoga Valley National Park — Ohio
A park with culture and tradition embedded in its roots, Cuyahoga Valley is a place that will feel like home. Visit Brandywine Falls, one of the park’s most popular attractions, or check out Beaver Marsh, a wetland with extraordinary wildlife. There are also many activities in the park such as “questing,” which is the park's version of geocaching, and music and arts events taking place throughout the summer.
6. Congaree National Park — South Carolina
For a beautiful and peaceful trip, visit Congaree National Park in South Carolina, where you are guaranteed to reconnect with life and with nature. Described by many to have a certain "quietness" to it, Congaree is a lesser known park that will leave a big impact on you. And if you visit soon, you can still catch the fireflies, which put on a light show from mid-May to late June.
It’s easy to overlook the beautiful nature that surrounds us, but this summer, take the time to appreciate it. Who knows, you just might end up making some great memories. The national parks have a free entrance day on August 25 so mark your calendar, but don't delay visiting.
You can find more information about the national parks on their website.
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