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Exploring the Parks

Fall Spectacular: What's That Sound? Where To Listen To -- And Look For -- Wildlife in the National Parks

In the fall, animals and birds prepare for winter. Bears eat constantly to fatten up before they slow down. Many birds are already on their migration path. Elk and other ungulates are preparing for the mating ritual, the rut. Take a look -- or stop and listen -- in many national parks this fall and you'll catch a glimpse of this autumnal spectacular.

Fall Spectacular: Great Autumn Hikes in the National Parks

It's hard to beat autumn for prime hiking in parks from coast to coast. This season brings fine weather to most of the country and in many locations fall foliage is an added bonus. There are more hikes in national parks than we can take in a lifetime, so here are a few suggestions for some great ones all across the nation—including some alternatives to the most heavily-visited sites.

Paddling Into The Past On Rainy Lake At Voyageurs National Park

It was a calm and warm mid-September day when my friend Jeff and I put our canoe in the water at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center boat ramp. Jeff is a park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park and I was excited to show him the sites of some of the most interesting historic events that took place on Rainy Lake inside what is now Voyageurs National Park. As we paddled away from the boat ramp the North Woods were in all their splendor. A loon dove under the water no more than 50 yards away and an eagle soared overhead. The very first hint of fall color shone on a few of the scattered aspens on the lakeshore.

A Monumental Road Trip In Northern Arizona

Cool Ponderosa pine forests, ancient life, and volcanism are all within reach this fall in Arizona’s high country. The gateway town of Flagstaff makes a perfect basecamp to visit four national monuments that protect ancient Native American dwellings and tell the stories of their occupants’ lives. Of course, the Grand Canyon to the north is the main draw for many visitors, but take some time to explore these lesser-known sites as well.

Organ Pipe Cactus: A Sonoran Desert Treasure

The blue fluttering banner was whipping in the hot, dry, desert wind. It was easily spotted above the cactus garden. It did not signal a restricted zone but, rather, salvation. Beneath the flag was a barrel of water, or aqua. Border jumpers heading north from Mexico who couldn’t carry enough water to last through the trek would most likely find this life-saving liquid.

Exploring Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

The ferry pulled out of the Portland, Maine, harbor, turning towards the blue-sky horizon to begin the 6.5-hour journey to Nova Scotia. Though I lived in Maine for most of my life, I had never made the trek to our Canadian cousin to the east, a region home to an impressive history of fishing in the Atlantic Ocean as well as beautiful natural landscapes. My brother, sister, parents, and I would spend the rest of the next day exploring the Nova Scotia coastline, including a major item on my bucket list: Kejimkujik National Park Seaside.

Musings From Craters Of The Moon National Monument And Preserve

I headed up to Idaho to scout out a spot to watch the Great Total Eclipse of the Sun on August 21. Depending upon who you talk to, there is either fear or anxious anticipation about that coming event. Speculation (probably well founded) has it that millions of people will make a mass migration across the country and around the world as a band of blackness shoots across all of America from Oregon to Florida.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide