Easily one of the United States’ greatest civic achievements is the National Park System. Every year, close to 300 million visits are made to national parks around the country. While you could take the clichéd route and go to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, there are many other, less-traveled parks worth visiting this summer. Here are just five excellent choices.
Whether you’re interested in a multi-day camping trip or merely a scenic drive through one of the country’s most gorgeous landscapes, Great Smoky is a must. The sheer diversity of flora and fauna gives photography enthusiasts plenty of material to work with. Thanks to its impressive size, Great Smoky never feels that crowded even when busy.
Located on a secluded island in the middle of Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is a hidden gem worth exploring. It boasts everything from beaver dams to roving wolf packs in a setting untouched by civilization. If you use your summer vacation to quietly recharge your batteries, Isle Royale is a tough choice to beat.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon
With more than 800 miles of trails, Sequoia & Kings Canyon is a backpacker’s dream. Situated in the shadow of Mount Whitney, it’s breezy and beautiful during the hot summer months. Though its location is somewhat remote, Sequoia & Kings Canyon is one of the most well-maintained parks within the greater National Parks Service.
If you’re in search of the quintessential Maine experience, look no further than Acadia National Park. Since the Gilded Age, Acadia has been one of the most popular summer vacation spots on the East Coast. It has an amazingly diverse landscape for one of the smaller national parks, including granite mountains, sandy beaches and pristine hardwood forests.
An oasis in an otherwise densely populated south Florida, Biscayne is one of America’s most exotic national parks. If you’re a fan of aquatic wildlife, this is the one for you. Featuring coral reefs, shipwrecks and West Indian manatees, Biscayne is paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. If you feel like taking it easy, glass-bottom boat tours are available.
The Perfect Summer Vacation
The right national park for you is ultimately a matter of personal taste. For many vacationers, the hard part is picking a single park to experience. Fortunately, there are many superb bus tours of all North America’s famous national parks that allow you to take in the sights, sounds and smells of each one.