Sometimes, going to national parks can feel like time travel. Exploring Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado gives you a chance to experience the preserved cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the park contains 5,000+ known archeological sites – from the cliff dwellings to mesa top sites of pithouses, pueblos, masonry towers and farming structures. A visit here is like going 1,000 years into the past. Photo by Scott Reynolds (www.sharetheexperience.org).
With over 11 million people enjoying the park’s rolling splendor each year, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee is always near the top of the list for yearly visitation. With epic views from Clingmans Dome and the sublime beauty of Cades Cove, it’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to this special place. Keep your eyes open for waterfalls, fireflies, black bears and amazing summer sunsets. Photo courtesy of Bob Carr.
This cute, little ball of fur is a baby snowshoe hare. 🐰 Brown in the summer and white in the winter, these adorable hares live in Alaska and forests in the upper elevations of the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. Besides being shy, their natural coloring makes them hard to spot. This one was photographed at Denali National Park in Alaska before bounding away on its big, back feet. Photo by Tim Rains, National Park Service.
We’re kicking off National Park Week with a gorgeous scene from our first national park. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was established in 1872 to protect the area’s incredible natural scenery, unique geothermal features and wonderful wildlife. Every day, bison herds move through picturesque valleys and geysers erupt in towering clouds of steam. Each visit to Yellowstone – and all our national parks – is a chance to see something new and connect yourself to the natural world and generations of human history. Photo of steamy bison by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.
Rising 8,751 feet, high above the dry plains of West Texas, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in the state. From the top of Texas, visitors can see the wide expanse of Guadalupe Mountains National Park and stand on an ancient reef, born under an inland sea over 250 million years ago. The geology, history and views in this park are all spectacular. Photo by E. Jackson, National Park Service.
Are you planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park this summer? To get the full experience, take a walk along the rim or hike into the canyon. Trails range from easy to strenuous, but all provide spectacular views. Just remember, every step down has to be repeated as a step up on the return trip. The bright line you see here shows the numerous switchbacks and change in elevation. Be sure to pack water, snacks and common sense. Photo by National Park Service.
This sunrise photo was taken last year, but it paints a lovely picture of what Shenandoah National Park will look like as the weather gets warmer. Over 850 species of flowering plants grow in the Virginia park. The variety of colors and petals are fun to discover as you wander the trails and enjoy the gorgeous mountain views. Photo by N. Lewis, National Park Service.
Last month, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was redesignated as America’s 61st national park. Located in northwest Indiana, the park includes 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 15,000 acres of beaches, woods, prairies and marshes. If you love sand, surf and sun, start planning your visit to Indiana Dunes National Park. Photo by Rafi Wilkinson, National Park Service.
Acadia National Park in Maine has many claims to fame. It was the first national park east of the Mississippi. Generations of artists have immortalized its mountains, forests and rocky coastline. Over 3 million people visited last year. And of course, Acadia is the first place the see the sunrise in the continental United States. That’s a lot to be proud of! Photo courtesy of J.K. Putnam.