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Exploring the Parks

Traveler peels back the layers to help you enjoy your national park experience to the max.

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.

Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most remote national parks in the United States. Visitors can only access the park via boat, seaplane, or aboard the official Dry Tortugas National Park ferry, the Yankee Freedom III. As a result, the park boasts some unusual facts that not all park travelers might know.

Photography In The National Parks: Padre Island National Seashore In Early Summer

While on assignment to Padre Island National Seashore for the Traveler, contributing photographer Rebecca Latson compared and contrasted the difference between her early spring visit to this early summer visit. In her latest article, Rebecca offers up those comparisons as well as more photographic tips for you to apply if you decide to visit this national seashore in Texas during the summer.

Exploring The Parks: Valles Caldera National Preserve

New Mexico Highway 4 climbs steadily, sometimes steeply, west out of Los Alamos, through forests scorched by wildfire in recent decades, and over a pass at the top of Bandelier National Monument. The road drops slightly then bursts out of the trees. Spread suddenly before us is a vast grassland, the Valle Grande, in Valles Caldera National Preserve, a recent addition to the national park system. This huge meadow seems the bottom of a bowl and we are on its south rim. Eleven miles to the north is the north rim of the caldera, rising to 10,000 feet. The 87,000-acre National Preserve, established in 2000, was placed under the care of the National Park Service in 2015.

3 Days In Heaven

Known as the “Crown of the Continent,” I prefer to think of Glacier National Park as the Crown Jewel of the National Park System. I was born 24 miles away from this setting of pine-, cedar-, and fir-fragrant forests, rugged mountains, glacial U-shaped valleys, abundant wildlife, flower-filled fields, pristine lakes and trail choices suitable for all walks of life.

Sandy Solitude On Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the traditional start of the summer tourism season. In places like the Four Corners region, it may be the busiest time of the year as people try to visit the national parks before the summer heat arrives. I love the region but I dislike crowds. So, when I found time for a week off at Memorial Day last year, the challenge was clear: could I visit a Southwestern national park without the crowds? As a lover of wilderness, the challenge was even greater: could I find solitude in that park?

Exploring The Parks: Quitobaquito Springs At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

In far south Arizona, so far south that you could cross into Mexico if you wanted, there's an oasis in this prickly Sonoran Desert landscape that has been drawing thirsty travelers for centuries. Protected by Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Quitobaquito Springs has many stories to tell.

Exploring The Parks: A Day At Cumberland Island National Seashore

The two of us recently spent a sunny spring day on Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. Ninety percent of the 30,000-acre island is owned and managed by the National Park Service as a national seashore. This was our fourth visit to the island, but it had been a number of years since we last walked the beach and marveled at the beautiful live oak trees. Early spring is a good time to visit the national seashore that can become uncomfortably hot during the summer months.

Musings From Fort Davis National Historic Site

Every few minutes a bugle call sounded across the empty parade ground at Fort Davis in the rocky hills of west Texas. Every time I heard one, I expected to see John Wayne riding in front of a long column of blue-clad cavalry troopers galloping to rescue me from Apache or Comanche warriors. The morning breeze was gentle and I was the only visitor in sight that early in the morning. It wasn’t hard to let my imagination run for awhile.

Visit The Florida Keys On Your Next Spring Vacation

One of America’s most quintessential road trips often starts by renting a convertible or RV in South Florida and organizing a tropical journey to the southernmost point in the continental United States. Visitors to this island oasis encounter a lifetime’s worth of natural wonders preserved by our State and National Park Services, along with plenty of fun in the sun, eco-adventures, and an opportunity to disconnect from the real world.

The Falling Waters Of Yosemite

An atmospheric river of moisture took aim on California and the High Sierra over the last few months, dumping snowfall in amounts that haven’t been seen in years. While the state’s multi-year drought isn’t entirely over, the Pineapple Express (as the storms raging in over the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii are referred to) has been hammering California with rain and snow.

Lesser Known Parks To Paddle

Has anyone not heard that the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best places on Earth to paddle or float? Or that the New River Gorge National River has one of the best one-day whitewater paddles in the National Park System? If you’ve heard of those, and other iconic paddling spots in the park system, perhaps you are looking for something new, and not so thick with other boats that you’ll slap each other’s paddles. Let us offer you some suggestions, in no specific order.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide