Climbing up the first few steps of a brand new year, hopefully you have had the chance to look into what 2016 has in store for you. Besides great success and easily-met resolutions, be sure to mark on your calendar August 25, because that is when the National Park System celebrates its 100th year of existence, also known as its centennial. To properly commemorate this special birthday, top scientist agree that you should put as many National Park System adventures on your to-do list as possible, and while there are over 400 units to choose, to help you on your way here are 10 National Park adventures to consider in 2016:
See a Different Shade Green at Olympic National Park
Located at the furthest northwest tip of the country, Olympic National Park stands as one of the most unique National Parks in terms of ecosystems, landscapes, and rugged terrains. While the green you see there may not be any different than back home, the abundance of it is, and that is much in thanks to one of the largest temperate rain forest in the United States located squarely in the boundaries of Olympic NP, the Hoh National Rain Forest.
Hike through Sequoia, Kings Canyon & Yosemite National Park on the John Muir Trail
Named after one of the top figures in conservation history, the John Muir Trail is a 215-mile, premier hiking trail that spans across central California. Sought after by many, the John Muir Trail earns its celebrity status by weaving in and out & up and down the Sierra Mountains, including in its path three major National Parks worth putting on your bucket list. The optimal time to go is summer, and you’ll meet some other people on the trail, but conquer this quest and you’ll have your wanderlust filled for the rest of the year.
Feel the Immensity of Mother Nature at Grand Canyon National Park
Ask anyone who has been there, the view from atop the rim of the Grand Canyon is deceivingly real. What looks like a canvas portrait crafted by the gentle strokes of Mother Nature herself is realistically miles and miles of land for you to explore. Whether you hike down to the bottom, trek around the rim, or just enjoy the scene while staying at the Grand Canyon Lodge, this is one National Park that needs to be checked off your lifelong bucket list.
Visit the Fabulous 5 in Utah
Utah is an adventure dream come true. Not only do each of the five different National Parks that inhabit this land of red rock provide countless hours of exploring (Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef & Zion), but they all are really not spread out far from each other. At the furthest east, Arches National Park is separated by less than 400 miles from the furthest western park, Zion. The Patchwork Parkway connects many of the destinations in between, and that ride alone is worth the travel.
Don’t be Disappointed at Yellowstone National Park
Speaking specifically about the Old Faithful Geyser that systemically erupts every day of the year, you won’t be disappointed by your visit to Yellowstone National Park. Speaking figuratively, Yellowstone National Park was the first official National Park within the NPS, and for good reason. This wild area of land which spans three states is an active volcanic hot spot, and with gorgeous Rocky Mountains sprouting into the air, this is an amazing place to visit where you’ll surely not be disappointed.
Drive into the Sun at Glacier National Park
While driving straight into the sun isn’t literally possible, driving on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is very possible. The peak season for this sensational drive is summer, and shuttles are available and encouraged to cut down on the congestion. Public transportation is the best method as well, because as you’re spanning the 50 miles that comprise this engineering feet, you won’t want to be looking at the road as you travel through the Rocky Mountains of Northwest Montana.
Find Your Own Way at Voyageurs National Park
A hearty combination of land and water, Voyageurs National Park is a true wilderness that boasts both land and water habitats where wildlife flourishes and nature takes over. With 40% of the park consisting of water, a boat or ferry goes a long way in exploring these ancient shores, and no matter the season, whether you’re fishing for walleye in the summer or cross country skiing in the winter, you’ll be set up for a wilderness situation you won’t soon forget.
Find Some Light at Mammoth Cave National Park
With more than 400 miles of explored passageways, Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system, and what that means for you is hours of fun beneath the ground. A great to way to gain a little different perspective, the NPS offers multiple cave tours ranging from lantern-led walks on grated paths to 8-hour mud-filled wild cave explorations. Don’t forget your flashlight for you next visit to Mammoth Cave National Park located in in Kentucky, and no matter the adventure you choose, you’ll be sure to come out of it appreciating the light just a little bit more.
Don’t Feed the Wildlife at The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Stick to the trails instead and see for yourself why this is the Great Smoky Mountains. Saturated in dense early-morning and late-evening fog, the Great Smoky Mountains can provide endless hours of enjoyment as you make your way through dense forest and steep trails, and if you play your cards right you can even hop on the sections of the Appalachian Trail that cuts through the park. If you do run into some wildlife, which isn’t uncommon, appreciate it discreetly and never feed or approach a wild animal.
Escape the Hustle & Bustle at Shenandoah National Park
Located just 75 miles south of our nation’s capitol, Shenandoah National Park is a sounding board for the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and an invitation to peaceful thinking as you look across the horizon. Camping, hiking, animal watching, Shenandoah has it all including Skyline Drive, one of the nation’s premier National Scenic Byways that cuts horizontally through the park. For the traveler that relies more on their own foot power, the Appalachian Trail zig-zags across Skyline Drive all the way throughout Shenandoah National Park.