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62 NATIONAL PARKS CLASSIFICATIONS, TIPS, AND COOL FACTS

There are presently 62 U.S. National Parks. 20 of them are a stone's throw away from civilization, 34 are remote or borderline remote, and 8 Parks are very remote.

Those near civilization include Acadia, Mount Rainier, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Badlands, Great Smoky Mountains, Joshua Tree, Hawaii Volcanoes, Haleakala, Zion, Saguaro, Cuyahoga Valley, Mesa Verde, Arches, Virgin Islands, Shenandoah, Mammoth Cave, Gateway Arch, Indiana Dunes, and Hot Springs.

The 8 "very remote" parks are Dry Tortugas, American Samoa, Big Bend, Katmai, Lake Clark, Kobuk Valley, Gates Of The Arctic, and Wrangell-St. Elias

Kobuk River, to Kobuk Valley

The smallest parks, are Hot Springs and Gateway Arch, postage stamp sized compared to the others. The largest, Wrangell-St, Elias, is larger than the country of Switzerland.

Hot Springs
Wrangell-St. Elias

The highest park is Denali at 20,310 ft. The lowest is Death Valley, where Badwater Basin sits 282 ft. below sea level. The highest paved road is to Mt. Evans in Rocky Mountain and the best stargazing has to be at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The quietest place in North America is in the Hot Rainforest of Olympic National Park.

Denali, "the high one"
Moon and Venus setting, Badwater Basin, Death Valley

ACCESSIBILITY = There is a program to make all of them more accessible by 2020. Seniors are very much encouraged to visit the parks. An annual senior pass costs $20, while a lifetime pass for seniors is currently $80. Glacier Park has a shuttle taking in the hot spots along Going To The Sun Highway. The Great Sand Dunes have big-wheeled wheelchairs for easy going in sand. Grand Canyon South Rim have easily accessed overlooks and, of course, mule rides down into the canyon. Yellowstone has accessible fishing sites.

Going To The Sun Highway (autumn)

The 17 parks most visited are Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, Zion, Acadia, Cuyahoga Valley, Joshua Tree, Arches, Grand Canyon (South Rim), Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Yellowstone, Mesa Verde, Haleakala, Hawaii Volcanoes, Glacier Park, Rocky Mountain, and Grand Tetons. The busiest park of these is unquestionably Great Smoky Mountains with 9 million visitors a year. But, with 800 miles of hiking trails in and near the park, you can still find peace in the back spaces.

Grand Tetons
Zion

The least visited are Isle Royale, Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, North Cascades, Dry Tortugas, Great Basin, Congaree, Guadalupe Mountains, Lake Clark, and Wrangell-St. Elias. The least busy of these is Kobuk Valley. On a day of 80 degree sunshine, I shared this amazing park with my pilot, another explorer named Joy, and a bush plane which had landed below us on the dunes.

Kobuk Valley
Lake Diablo, North Cascades

The dominating features of these parks are:

1 INTERNATIONAL PEACE PARK = WATERTON-GLACIER

Lake McDonald, Waterton-Glacier

2 WITH FJORDS = KENAI FJORDS; SOMES SOUND OF ACADIA

Kenai Fjords

3 WITH SAND DUNES = GREAT SAND DUNES; KOBUK VALLEY; and WHITE SANDS

Sangre de Cristo Mountains above, Great Sand Dunes below

3 WITH HOODOOS = BRYCE CANYON; TEDDY ROOSEVELT NORTH UNIT; BADLANDS

Badlands
Bryce Canyon

3 RAINFORESTS = VIRGIN ISLANDS; AMERICAN SAMOA; HOH RAINFOREST OF OLYMPIC

American Samoa

4 WITH DEEP HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE = MESA VERDE; CUYAHOGA VALLEY; DRY TORTUGAS; GATEWAY ARCH

Cuyahoga Valley

4 KNOWN FOR CAVES = MAMMOTH CAVE; CARLSBAD CAVERNS; WIND CAVE; LEHMAN CAVES OF GREAT BASIN

Carlsbad Caverns

5 WITH VALLEYS = DEATH VALLEY; SHENANDOAH; YOSEMITE; CUYAHOGA VALLEY; KATMAI’S VALLEY OF TEN THOUSAND SMOKES

Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai
F18 fighter jet diving into Death Valley
Yosemite Valley

6 CANYONS = GRAND CANYON; CANYONLANDS; KINGS CANYON; BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON; ZION; GRAND CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE

Grand Canyon, north rim
Kings Canyon

6 WITH GLACIERS = WATERTON-GLACIER; GLACIER BAY; KENAI FJORDS; WRANGELL- ST. ELIAS; GREAT BASIN; GATES OF THE ARCTIC

glacier, Kenai Fjords
Kenai Glacier

7 NOTED FOR ROCKS OR ROCK CLIMBING = ACADIA; JOSHUA TREE; ARCHES; CPITOL REEF; YOSEMITE; PINNACLES; ZION

Joshua Tree
Pinnacles

8 VOLCANOES = YELLOWSTONE; LASSEN VOLCANIC; HALEAKALA; HAWAII VOLCANOES; MOUNT RAINIER; CRATER LAKE; KATMAI'S VALLEY OF TEN THOUSAND SMOKES; MOUNTS REDOUBT AND ILIAMNA OF LAKE CLARK

Mount Redoubt
crater and caldera, Crater Lake

9 ISLANDS = VIRGIN ISLANDS; AMERICAN SAMOA; DRY TORTUGAS; CHANNEL ISLANDS; ACADIA; ISLE ROYALE; VOYAGEURS; HALEAKALA; HAWAII VOLCANOES

American Samoa
Anacapa Is. from Santa Cruz Is., Channel Islands

9 KNOWN FOR THEIR TREES = JOSHUA TREE; SEQUOIA; REDWOODS; PETRIFIED FOREST; SAGUARO; BRISTLECONES OF GREAT BASIN; ANCIENT HARDWOODS OF CONGAREE; SEQUOIA GROVE OF KINGS CANYON; HOH RAINFOREST OF OLYMPIC

Joshua Tree
bristlecone pine, Great Basin
Redwood

13 NOTED FOR WATER OR WATER ENJOYMENT = CRATER LAKE; HOT SPRINGS; BISCAYNE; EVERGLADES; DRY TORTUGAS; VIRGIN ISLANDS; LAKE CLARK; ISLE ROYALE; VOYAGEURS; AMERICAN SAMOA; BIG BEND; GLACIER BAY; GRAND CANYON

deepest and clearest, Crater Lake
mineral baths of Hot Springs
mineral water root beer, Hot Springs

15 ANIMAL PARADISES = YELLOWSTONE (bison, bear, and elk); DENALI (caribou, moose and grizzlies); KATMAI (alaskan brown bear); ROCKY MOUNTAIN (bighorn sheep, bear, and elk); EVERGLADES (birds, gators, dragon and butterflies) ; GLACIER BAY (orcas and eagles); BIG BEND (javelina and wildcat) ; PINNACLES (condor); VIRGIN ISLANDS (coral fish and coqui frog); AMERICAN SAMOA (flying fox and coral fish); GLACIER (grizzlies and mountain goats); GRAND TETONS (grizzlies and moose); KENAI FJORDS (sealion, orca, grizzly, mountain goat); ISLE ROYALE (moose and grey wolf); BISCAYNE (seabird and coral fishes); DRY TORTUGAS ( coral fish, grouper, and tarpon)

moose, Isle Royale
Alaskan Brown Bear, Katmai
deer buck, Waterton-Glacier

20 WITH LOFTY MOUNTAINS RANGES = SHENANDOAH; GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS; GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS; NORTH CASCADES; OLYMPIC; CHISOS MOUNTAINS OF BIG BEND; MESA VERDE; GRAND TETONS; ROCKY MOUNTAIN; HIGH SIERRAS OF YOSEMITE AND KINGS CANYON;YELLOWSTONE; THE PANAMINTS OF DEATH VALLEY; WATERTON-GLACIER; MOUNT RAINIER; KILAUEA AND MONA LOA OF HAWAI’I VOLCANOES; GATES OF THE ARCTIC; SANGRE DE CRISTOS OF GREAT SAND DUNES; WRANGELL-ST. ELIAS; DENALI

Grand Tetons
Grand Teton
North Cascades
Eielson Mountains, Denali
Wrangell-St. Elias
El Capitan, Guadalupe Mountains
Gates of the Arctic

SEASONAL TIMING

AUTUMN = ACADIA (mid-week); SHENANDOAH (mid-week); CUYAHOGA FALLS (mid-week); GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS (mid-week); CONGAREE; VOYAGEURS (but not too late); McClintock Canyon of GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS; CARLSBAD CAVERNS (because they are near to Guad. Mtns.)

WINTER = DEATH VALLEY; BIG BEND; SAGUARO; PINNACLES; BISCAYNE (no hurricanes); EVERGLADES (no hurricanes); CHANNEL ISLANDS

Death Valley, winter
devil's postpiles, Death Valley
Pinnacles

SPRING = WATERTON-GLACIER (when rivers are high); YOSEMITE (when waterfalls are in their prime); KINGS CANYON (when river is high);SEQUOIA (because it’s close to Kings Canyon); CANYONLANDS (to avoid the heat); DRY TORTUGAS (driest weather then)

SUMMER = ISLE ROYALE; NORTH CASCADES; OLYMPIC; DENALI AND ALL ALASKAN PARKS; CAPITOL REEF(but camp in higher elevations west of the park); YELLOWSTONE (but camp outside the park); BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON (cold there otherwise); GREAT BASIN (gets cold otherwise); LASSEN VOLCANIC; TEDDY ROOSEVELT; GRAND CANYON NORTH RIM

Scoville Point, Isle Royale

ANYTIME PARKS = VIRGIN ISLANDS (constant temps); AMERICAN SAMOA (always hot and humid there); HOT SPRINGS; BRYCE CANYON (can be pretty in winter too); PETRIFIED FOREST

Sadies By The Sea Beach, American Samoa

SHOULDER SEASON IS BEST DUE TO CONGESTION OR COST: ZION; ARCHES; GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM; CRATER LAKE; JOSHUA TREE; GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS; MOUNT RAINIER; YELLOWSTONE; MESA VERDE; HALEAKALA; HAWAI’I VOLCANOES; GLACIER PARK; REDWOOD; ROCKY MOUNTAINS

shoulder season in Glacier

MY 12 GOLD STARS = ACADIA; GRAND CANYON; ZION; YOSEMITE; YELLOWSTONE; WATERTON-GLACIER; ROCKY MOUNTAIN; MOUNT RAINER; GRAND TETON; DENALI; DEATH VALLEY; HALEAKALA

Grand Tetons
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Zion
the narrows of Zion
Glacial Melt, Denali
Golden Dome, Death Valley
Artist's Palette, Death Valley
Grand Canyon

MY 17 RED RIBBONS = GLACIER BAY; CRATER LAKE; REDWOODS; ISLE ROYALE; VIRGIN ISLANDS; BIG BEND; CARLSBAD CAVERNS; ARCHES; BRYCE CANYON; MESA VERDE; PINNACLES; GREAT SAND DUNES; OLYMPIC; NORT CASCADES; KENAI FJORDS; DRY TORTUGAS; KATMAI

Redwoods
SANTA ELENA CANYON, BIG BEND
North Cascades
creature of Carlsbad Caverns
draperies, Carlsbad Caverns
Katmai
Bryce Canyon

BEST ROADS, IN OR OUT, OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS =GOING TO THE SUN HWY, GLACIER PARK; WYOMING 296 THROUGH BEAR TOOTH PASS, YELLOWSTONE; US ALT. 89 UNDER VERMILLION CLIFFS TO GRAND CANYON NORTH RIM;CALIFORNIA 299 TO US 101, US 101 THROUGH REDWOODS; TRAIL RIDGE ROAD, ROCKY MOUNTAIN; UTAH 9, ZION;SKYLINE ROAD, SHENANDOAH; US 50 TO GREAT BASIN; CALIFORNIA 25 TO PINNACLES; US 160 TO GREAT SAND DUNES;US 285 TO COLORADO 17 TO GREAT SAND DUNES; US 50 TO BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON; UTAH 12 BETWEEN CAPITOL REEF AND BRYCE CANYON; WASHINGTON 20 THROUGH NORTH CASCADES; BUSH PLANE TO LAKE CLARK; US 85 TO TEDDY ROOSEVELT NORTH UNIT; ROAD TO WETHERILL MESA, MESA VERDE; US 1 TO KEY WEST, GATEWAY TO DRY TORTUGAS; CALIFORNIA 120 TO YOSEMITE

Going To The Sun Highway, Glacier
U.S. Alt 89 , to north rim Grand Canyon
Nabesna Road, Wrangell-St.Elias
Whiskeytown Rd. to Lassen Volcanic
CA 120 east to Yosemite
California 25 from Pinnacles
U.S. 101, Redwoods

BEST LODGES = PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL, WATERTON PARK;

EL TOVAR HOTEL, GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM; GRAND CANYON LODGE, GRAND CANYON NORTH RIM; ZION LODGE, ZION; PARADISE INN, MOUNT RAINIER; HOTEL TERRA, JACKSON HOLE, GRAND TETON; CRATER LAKE LODGE, CRATER LAKE;

DANCING BEAR LODGE, GREAT SMOKY MTNS.; GLACIER PARK LODGE, EAST GLACIER, GLACIER PARK; OLD FAITHFUL INN, YELLOWSTONE; ASTICOU INN, ACADIA; MAJESTIC YOSEMITE HOTEL, YOSEMITE; ROCK HARBOR LODGE, ISLE ROYALE; TAKE YOUR PICK OF HOTELS ON ST. THOMAS OR ST. JOHN, VIRGIN ISLANDS; HOTELS OF PALM SPRINGS, JOSHUA TREE

OTHER COOL LODGINGS : ZION UNDER CANVAS, ZION (tents up); THE REDWOODS OF YOSEMITE (cabins); ANY HOTEL ON MAUI (HALEAKALA) OR HAWAII, (HAWAI’I VOLCANOES);

SOME OF THE BEST CAMPS = PLEASANT CREEK SOUTH OF CAPITOL REEF ON UTAH 12; PINYON FLATS, GREAT SAND DUNES; BROOKS CAMP, KATMAI; LOCATOR LAKE, VOYAGERS; PINE SPRINGS, GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS; KINTLA LAKE, GLACIER

texas springs, Death Valley
Brooks Camp, Katmai
Lizard Creek, Grand Tetons

SOME OF THE BEST HIKES = HIDDEN LAKE (DIFFICULT), NORTH CASCADES; THE NARROWS (MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), ZION; ANGEL’S LANDING (MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), ZION ;

CHAIN ASSISTED, ANGEL'S LANDING...ZION

SANTA ELENA CANYON (EASY TO MODERATE) BIG BEND; MCCLINTOCK CANYON (EASY), GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS; HIKE TO DELICATE ARCH (MODERATE), ARCHES; PEEK-A-BOO LOOP EASY TO MODERATE), BRYCE CANYON; BRISTLECONE MEADOWS (MODERATE), GREAT BASIN; ANY TRAIL IN YELLOWSTONE; CASCADE CANYON (MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), GRAND TETON; PAINTBRUSH CANYON (EASY, MODERATE, DIFFICULT DEPENDING ON HIGH U GO), GRAND TETON; ANY TRAIL IN MESA VERDE; HIGH PEAKS TRAIL (DIFFICULT), PINNACLES; ASK LOCALS FOR DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAIL THAT GOES THROUGH RAINFOREST TO WORLD WAR 2 CANNONS (MODERATE); SMUGGLERS COVE (MODERATE), CHANNEL ISLANDS; GOLDEN DOME TRAIL (EASY TO MODERATE) DEATH VALLEY; BADWATER BASIN (EASY), DEATH VALLEY; HIKE THE DUNES AT DAWN (MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), GREAT SAND DUNES; ENCHANTING VALLEY OF HOH RAINFOREST (MODERATE), OLYMPIC; TRAIL THROUGH JEDEDIAH SMITH PARK (EASY TO MODERATE), REDWOODS; MCKINLEY TRAIL (EASY TO MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), DENALI; TANALIAN TRAIL (MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), LAKE CLARK; VALLEY OF TEN THOUSAND SMOKES (MODERATE TO DIFFICULT), KATMAI; EXIT GLACIER (DIFFICULT), KENAI FJORDS

hidden lake trail, North Cascades
Peek-a-boo Loop, Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
life comes back, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai
hike to Paintbrush, Grand Teton
from Dante's View, Death Valley
high peaks trail, Pinnacles
High Peaks Trail, Pinnacles
Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Big Bend
smugglers cove trail, Channel Islands
chambered nautilus , smugglers cove, Channel Islands

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS =

---YELLOWSTONE WAS OUR 1ST NATIONAL PARK (3/1/1872 SIGNED INTO LAW BY U.S. GRANT); BUT YOSEMITE WAS THE FIRST LAND PROTECTED BY OUR GOVERNMENT ( A. LINCOLN SIGNED THE YOSEMITE GRANT DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1864)

IT WAS PROTECTED TO PREVENT ANOTHER NIAGARA FALLS

--- IN AUTUMN OF 1869, JOHN MUIR WALKS FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO YOSEMITE….LATER IN LIFE HE TRAVELED TO GLACIER BAY AND MOUNT RAINIER

--- YELLOWSTONE WAS ALREADY A NATIONAL PARK WHEN CUSTER ENGAGED THE SIOUX AND CHEYENNE AT LITTLE BIGHORN (6/25/1876)

--- MACKINAC WAS OUR 2ND NATIONAL PARK (1875); BUT BECAUSE THE FORT THERE WAS DECOMMISSIONED 20 YEARS LATER, MICHIGAN TOOK BACK ITS PROTECTION)

--- SEQUOIA THEN BECAME OUR 2ND PARK (9/25/1890) AND YOSEMITE OUR 3RD (10/1/1890)

--- IN 1903 TEDDY ROOSEVELT TRAVELED TO YOSEMITE TO CAMP FOR 3 DAYS WITH JOHN MUIR. THESE TWO FORGED A VISION OF OUR NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM

Muir's poetic inspiration, Yosemite

TIPS

--- VIRGIN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK ENCOMASSES ¾ OF THE ISLAND OF ST. JOHN; THEREFORE VISITORS MAY USE THE BEACHES (BUT NOT THE ACCOUTREMENTS) OF CERTAIN RESORTS SUCH AS CANEEL BAY (ALSO CAN USE THEIR SHUTTLE TO ANY OF THEIR 5 BEACHES);

---- DRY TORTUGAS = THESE "TURTLE ISLANDS" HAVE THE 3RD LARGEST BARRIER REEF IN THE WORLD. IF YOU SNORKLE OUT, AWAY FROM THE FORT, YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF SWIMMING IN A LARGE SCHOOL OF TARPON - A FISH ALMOST AS BIG AS YOURSELF

---- DEATH VALLEY = HIKE GOLDEN DOME AT SUNSET FOR FULL, GOLDEN EFFECT; THEN DRIVE DOWN TO BADWATER BASIN (ABOUT 20 MINUTES AWAY) TO WATCH THE FINAL GLOW OF SUN BEHIND THE PANAMINT RANGE. IF YOU'RE LUCKY, YOU WILL ALSO VIEW THE MOON SETTING. AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE ARE GONE, WALK OUT INTO THE BASIN (WITH A FLASHLIGHT FOR YOUR WAY BACK). EXPERIENCE THE LOWEST PLACE IN NORTH AMERICA IN DARKNESS

Golden Dome Trail, Death Valley

---- HOT SPRINGS = IF YOU TIME YOUR VISIT TO HOT SPRINGS AFTER THE ARKANSAS DERBY (IN APRIL), HOTEL PRICES REDUCE DRAMATICALLY; BUT, IF YOU LIKE THE PONIES, GO FOR THAT GRADE 1 RACE. ROCKY'S CORNER IS A GREAT LITTLE ITALIAN JOINT ACROSS FROM THE RACETRACK (ORDER THE HOUSE SALAD DRESSING)

great little Italian joint, Hot Springs

---- ISLE ROYALE = YOU BASICALLY HAVE TWO OPTIONS FOR LODGING, THE LODGE OR BACKCOUNTRY CAMPING. HOWEVER, OUT OF ITS 20 CAMPSITES AT ROCK HARBOR, 9 OF THEM ARE SHELTERED. IF IT LOOKS LIKE RAIN OR YOU WANT TO REST AFTER A LONG MORNING ON LAKE SUPERIOR, ONE OF THESE MAY COME IN HANDY; DON’T EAT THE BITTER BLUEBERRY LOOKING FRUIT IN THE UNDERGROWTH, FOR IT IS POISONOUS. BUT THE RED THIMBLEBERRIES ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD

the bounty of Isle Royale

---- MAMMOTH CAVE = YOU CAN BE TEMPTED TO DO THIS PARK IN LESS THAN A DAY; BUT TAKE TIME TO HAVE LUNCH OR DINNER AT ITS BEAUTIFUL PICNIC AREA

---- ACADIA = IF YOU HAPPEN TO VISIT IN SEPTEMBER OR EARLY OCTOBER, BE SURE TO BUY SOME MAINE BLUEBERRIES

---- MOUNT RAINIER = IF YOU LOVE WILDFLOWERS, THIS IS THE PARK FOR YOU

---- WRANGELL- ST. ELIAS = IF YOU HAVE TIME AFTERWARDS, TAKE THE HIGHWAY SOUTH FROM MCCARTHY ROAD TOWARD VALDEZ FOR AT LEAST A FEW MILES. NOT ONLY ARE THE WRANGELL MTNS A DISTANT TREAT, BUT THE LUPINE NEAR YOU AT THE HIGHWAYS EDGE IS RESPLENDENT IN ITS PERFUME. TAKE TIME TO SMELL THE FLOWERS

lupine, Wrangell-St. Elias

---- WRANGELL - ST. ELIAS = IF TRAVELING THE NABESNA ROAD, YOU MAY BE TEMPTED TO DRIVE TO KLUANE AND THE YUKON. BUT DEFINITELY CHECK WITH YOUR CAR RENTAL AGENCY FIRST, AS SOME DO NOT ALLOW ; ALSO KNOW THAT THESE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHEST MOUNTAINS IN THE WORLD. IF YOUR FLIGHT TO ANCHORAGE IS ON A SUNNY DAY, YOU CAN SEE THE GLACIERS AND ICEFIELDS OF WRANGELL-ST. ELIAS FROM THE WINDOW OF YOUR PLANE. SOME OF YOUR BEST PHOTOS OF THIS PARK MAY BE THOSE TAKEN FROM YOUR SEAT.

glaciers of Wrangell-St. Elias
the 17ers, Wrangell Mountains

---- GRAND TETON, KATMAI, YELLOWSTONE, DENALI, ROCKY MOUNTAIN, GREAT SMOKY MTNS, WATERTON-GLACIER, OR ANYWHERE ELSE YOU MAY HAVE A BEAR ENCOUNTER =

grizzly

BLACK BEARS MAY BE SCARED AWAY BY LOUD NOISES, BUT DO NOT CHASE THESE FOR A PHOTO OP. TOO MANY PEOPLE CHASE THEM AWAY BY DOING SO. BROWN BEAR (GRIZZLIES) SHOULD BE AVOIDED FOR THEY ARE UNPREDICTABLE. SING, TALK LOUDLY, OR MAKE OTHER NOISES ON YOUR HIKE BEFORE ANY ENCOUNTER. THIS WILL LIMIT THE POSSIBILITY OF SURPRISE. IF YOU DO ENCOUNTER, DO NOT THROW FOOD, EVEN TO DISTRACT THEM. ONCE THEY TASTE HUMAN FOOD, THEY USUALLY NEED TO BE DESTROYED. CALMLY BACK AWAY, TALK IN A LOW VOICE, AVOID EYE CONTACT, AND BACK AWAY. IF THEY CHARGE, HOLD YOUR GROUND. THEY USUALLY STOP A FEW FEET AWAY. IF THEY CHARGE INTO YOU OR TOUCH YOU IN ANYWAY, FALL TO THE GROUND ON YOUR STOMACH HOLDING YOUR HANDS OVER YOUR NECK AND FACE. OFTEN, AFTER ASSERTING THEIR DOMINANCE, THEY WILL LEAVE. SINCE THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO THE SMELL OF FOOD, I VERY RARELY COOK FOOD IN WILD PLACES. RATHER, I EAT TRAIL MIX, CRACKERS AND CHEESE, POWER BARS, OR JERKY. AND I PICK UP ANY CRUMBS.

---- MOUNTAIN LION COUNTRY = MORE UNPREDICTABLE THAN BEARS, BUT ALSO LESS LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER. THE KEY HERE IS NOT TO BE RUNNING OR RIDING A BIKE, ETC. THEY ARE DRAWN TO MOTION AND WILL ATTACK. IF ATTACKED, FIGHT WITH ALL YOU MIGHT KICKING AND SCREAMING. OTHERS NEARBY WILL HELP

cougar country, Joshua Tree

---- ISLE ROYALE, VOYAGEURS, DENALI, YELLOWSTONE AND ANY OTHER WILDERNESS HABITATING WOLVES. = DESPITE ANCIENT TALES AND MYTHS, WOLVES VERY RARELY ATTACK HUMANS. THEIR KEEN SENSE OF SMELL HELPS THEM AVOID HUMANS.

---- CONGAREE, EVERGLADES = GATORS AND COTTONMOUTH LURK IN THE WATERS, ALWAYS BE MINDFUL. PREVENTION IS THE KEY

---- BIG BEND, BADLANDS, AND OTHER DESERT PARKS = RATTLESNAKES SURPRISE. ALWAYS VIEW AHEAD OF YOUR FEET

---- HALEAKALA = KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN, EVEN ON MISTY AND FOGGY DAYS. THIS IS WHEN CAN HAPPEN A BROCKEN SPECTRE. A PERSON’S SHADOW MAY BE PROJECTED IN THE CLOUDS FROM A RIDGE NEAR YOU. EVEN ON PARTLY SUNNY DAYS, THE VIEW TO THE OCEAN IS ENHANCED AND IS DIFFICULT TO DETERMINE WHERE SKY ENDS AND SEA BEGINS

---- GATES OF THE ARCTIC; KOBUK VALLEY; DENALI; VOYAGEURS; ISLE ROYALE = ANY OF THESE MAY OFFER AN AURORA BOREALIS

---- BRYCE CANYON, PINNACLES = WATCH FOR CONDOR IN THE HIGH PLACES. THEY HAVE BEEN REINTRODUCED TO THE WILD AFTER NEAR EXTINCTION

CALIFORNIA CONDOR, PINNACLES

---- GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS = TRY TO VISIT IN AUTUMN TO WITNESS THE CONTRAST OF DECIDUOUS TREES AND DESERT SHRUB. THE AWESOME, TEXAS MADRONE GROWS HERE TOO

texas madrone, McClintock Canyon Trail, Guadalupe Mountains
texas madrone

---- CANYONLANDS AND CAPITOL REEF = BOTH HAVE COOLER CAMPSITES IN HIGHER ELEVATIONS OUTSIDE THE PARK BOUNDARIES. IT IS MORE OF A HASSLE TO GET TO THE PARKS IN THE MORNING, BUT YOU WILL HAVE HAD A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

---- YELLOWSTONE = OUR NATION’S FIRST PARK IS OFTEN CROWDED. I HAVE FOUND THAT THE BEST CAMPSITES ARE OUTSIDE THE PARK IN GRAND TETON TO THE SOUTH AND ALONG THE BEARTOOTH PASS TO THE NORTHEAST. THE NORTHEAST IS ALSO WHERE A VARIETY OF LARGE MAMMALS LIVE. AT PULLOUTS YOU WILL SEE PEOPLE WITH SPOTTING SCOPES. THEY USUALLY WILL SHARE THEIR TELEPHOTO EXPERIENCE, IF YOU ASK. IT IS A GREAT WAY TO SEE THE HERD OF BISON ACROSS THE WAY, OR A GRIZZLY PLAYING WITH A BEEHIVE IN THE ELEVATED SLOPES ABOVE.

---- GRAND CANYON = THE GRAND CANYON ACTUALLY HAS TWO RIMS. THE SOUTH’S VIEWS ARE SLIGHTLY MORE DRAMATIC, BUT THE NORTH RIM IS VERY LESS CROWDED. THOUGH HARDER TO TRAVEL TO, THE ROAD SCENERY IS SPECTACULAR. AT ABOUT 1,000 FT IN ELEVATION HIGHER THAN SOUTH RIM, THE AIR IS COOLER. ROAD FROM JACOBS LAKE CLOSES FROM MID- OCTOBER TO MID-MAY

Vermillion Cliffs, near Grand Canyon N. Rim

---- SAGUARO = THE WEST UNIT HAS SPLENDID TREES. BUT THE AIR IS SO DRY THAT PICTURE TAKING CAN BE TRICKY AS THE RESULTS MAY LOOK SURREAL. IT IS BEST TO ADD A PERSON OR OBJECT TO THE SHOT TO ADD DIMENSION. TRY AVOIDING MID-DAY SHOTS TOO. THE EAST UNIT HAS A NICE DESERT ANIMAL EXHIBIT. ALSO, ENJOY A RODEO IN TUCSON

"the old man"

---- GREAT BASIN = A UNIQUE PARK. THE DRIVE FROM THE WEST IS HUNDREDS OF MILES OF BASIN AND RANGE. IT SEEMS LIKE NOTHING CAN EXIST OUT THERE, BUT THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE HIGHWAY ARE SO UNUSUAL. GREAT BASIN ALSO HAS A MAGNIFICENT GROVE OF BRISTLECONE PINES. THE BRISTLECONE IS THE OLDEST LIVING ORGANISM ON EARTH. SOME OF THESE TREES ARE 3,000 YEARS OLD. THINK KING TUT

BRISTLECONE PINE

---- MESA VERDE = NOT ONLY GO THERE FOR THE KIVAS AND ANCIENT CLIFF DWELLINGS, BUT ALSO THE HIGH DESERT SCENERY. IF TRAVELING THE ROAD TO WETHERILL MESA, LOOK TO THE DISTANCE FOR SHIPROCK. THOUGH SCORES OF MILES AWAY, THE DESERT AIR BRINGS IT MUCH CLOSER. SOMETIMES THE CLOUDS OF THE AIR SIT BELOW THE MESA AND SHIPROCK LOOKS LIKE A GALLEON SAILING ON A PUFFY WHITE SEA.

---- ZION = THOUGH THE NARROWS HIKE IS AT THE LAST STOP ON THE BUS SHUTTLE, BE PREPARED TO RENT WATER SHOES AT THE PARK ENTRANCE. THESE ARE DESIGNED AS A CROSS BETWEEN WATER SHOE AND HIKING BOOT AND MAY COME IN HANDY WHEN TREKKING THE VIRGIN RIVER OVER ITS SLICK ROUND ROCKS AND RUSHING COLD WATERS. THESE RENTALS ARE AN OPTION. YOU CAN USE YOUR OWN WATER SHOES OR BOOTS DEPENDING ON YOUR PREFERENCE. BUT THESE ARE A SAFE ALTERNATIVE

the narrows, Zion

---- ZION = NOT ONLY ARE THE NARROWS A HIGHLY REGARDED TRAIL, BUT ANGEL’S LANDING IS ONE OF OUR NATION’S MOST ICONIC. THERE IS A 1,500 FT ELEVATION GAIN AND THE LAST THIRD OF A MILE IS DIFFICULT BORDERING DANGEROUS. CHAINS ARE ATTACHED TO THE CLIFFSIDES TO ASSIST YOUR ASCENT AND DESCENT. SOME STEPFALLS ARE WIDE, WITH NOTHING BUT 1,000 FT OF AIR BENEATH YOU. BUT EVEN IF YOU DON’T DO THE LAST PART OF THIS TRAIL, YOU SHOULD TRY TO GET UP TO IT. SCOTT’S LOOKOUT IS A NEAT PLACE IN AND OF ITSELF.

view near Scott's Lookout, Zion

---- AMERICAN SAMOA = TRY TO COUPLE THIS TRIP WITH A STAY (BEFORE OR AFTER) ON OAHU. THE FLIGHT FROM HONOLULU IS 5.5 HOURS. FIJI IS AN OPTION TOO. ONCE THERE, BE WISE NOT TO FALL FOR PEOPLE WITH SAD STORIES WHERE MONEY IS INVOLVED. BUT THIS IS A LOVELY ISLAND AND YOU WILL FIND ENJOYABLE PEOPLE HERE TOO. THE BUS RIDE TO THE PARK GOES THROUGH INDIGENUOUS VILLAGES, SO BE PREPARED FOR A POSSIBLE CULTURE SHIFT IN YOUR MENTALITY. THE BUSES ARE COLORFUL AND AN EXPERIENCE IN AND OF THEMSELVES. WHILE AT THE PARK, LOOK FOR THE UNIQUE FLYING FOX, THE LARGEST BAT SPECIES IN THE WORLD. ALSO - RENT A LONG BOAT TO PADDLE WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND PADDLE PAGO PAGO HARBOR

putting in, Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa

---- CHANNEL ISLANDS = THE WALK TO SMUGGLERS COVE ON SANTA CRUZ ISLAND IS AMAZING. THE PASTURES ARE AS EMERALD AS IRELAND’S AND THE TRAIL IS A DEEP, EARTHY BROWN. BE SURE TO GET A WHIFF OF THE JUNIPER’S FRAGRANCE AT THE END OF THE TRAIL NEAR THE PICNIC TABLE!!!

Santa Cruz, Channel Islands

---- HAWAI’I VOLCANOES = REMEMBER THAT THIS IS WHERE MOTHER EARTH REBIRTHS HERSELF

---- YOSEMITE AND KINGS CANYON = IT’S BEST TO COME TO THESE PARKS IN SPRING OR EARLY SUMMER WHEN YOSEMITE’S WATERFALLS ARE FALLING AND THE KING RIVER IS RUNNING HIGH. EACH PARK HAS STANDS OF SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON SPORTS THE LARGEST GROVE OF THESE IN THE WORLD

sequoia grove, Kings Canyon

---- SEQUOIA = THESE AMAZING, ANCIENT TREES HAVE A FIRE RETARDANT CALLED TANNIN. NOTICE THE BARK OF THESE GIANTS WHICH ARE COVERED WITH A FINE, REDDISH FUR

Sequoia Dendrongiganteum, Sequoia

---- LAKE CLARK = THE SEAPLANE RIDE TO THIS PARK IS VERY DRAMATIC. GLACIERS STRUT BETWEEN MOUNTAIN RIDGES. MOUNTS REDOUBT AND ILIAMNA ARE ACTIVE VOLCANOES AND YOU MAY SURELY SEE PUFFS OF SMOKE. YOU FEEL VERY SMALL AS AIR CURRENTS PROPEL THE CRAFT BETWEEN THESE HIGH MOUNTAIN WALLS

---- KOBUK VALLEY = THE GREAT CARIBOU MIGRATION TAKES PLACE IN KOBUK VALLEY AT ONION PORTAGE. IF YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT AIR SERVICES, YOUR PILOT MAY WELL LAND HIS SEAPLANE AT THIS LOCATION.

ONION PORTAGE, KOBUK VALLEY

---- KENAI FJORDS = THE FJORDS ARE THE DOMINATING FEATURE OF THIS PARK. BUT THERE ALSO IS A SECTION OF THE PARK HIGH ABOVE RESURRECTION BAY CALLED EXIT GLACIER. THERE IS A SMALL CAMPGROUND HERE AND GREAT HIKING NEAR THE GLACIER AND ON THE ICEFIELDS.

Harding Ice Fields, Kenai Fjords

---- DENALI = THE MOUNTAIN IS USUALLY COVERED IN A SHROUD, SO YOU WILL HAVE TO PRACTICE PATIENCE IN ORDER TO WITNESS ITS UNVEILING. TAKE THE BUS ALL THE WAY TO WONDER LAKE. IF THE MOUNTAIN BECOMES EXPOSED, THE DRIVER WILL STOP. (HE OR SHE ALSO STOPS FOR ANIMAL VIEWINGS). WHEN YOU GET TO WHATEVER DESTINATION, YOU CAN GET OFF THE BUS AND WAIT FOR A LATER ONE.

patience pays, Mount Denali

---- KATMAI = HOME TO THE ALASKAN BROWN BEAR, THESE BRUINS KNOW THAT THIS IS THEIR HOME AND THEY WANDER EVERYWHERE, EVEN IN THE CAMP. LUCKILY, OVER THE DECADES OF HUMAN COHABITATION, THEY SEEM MORE TOLERANT OF US VISITORS. THE LAST FATAL BEAR ATTACK HAPPENED IN OCTOBER OF 2007 WHEN TIMOTHY TREADWELL (OF GRIZZLY MAN FAME) AND HIS FEMALE COMPANION WERE MAULED. IF YOU HAVE EVER SEEN THE MOVIE, YOU MIGHT SURMISE THAT HE HAD TEMPTED FATE BY LIVING IN THEIR PRESENCE. SINCE THEN, BECAUSE OF CAUTION AND BEAR AWARENESS, NOTHING ELSE LIKE THAT HAS HAPPENED. NEVERTHELESS, ALWAYS BE MINDFUL WHEN WALKING ANYWHERE IN THIS AREA.

grizzly bear, Katmai

---- CRATER LAKE = CRATER LAKE IS THE DEEPEST WATER IN AMERICA, AND THE CLEAREST IN THE WORLD. HOWEVER, THE PUREST WATER COMES FROM A FAUCET IN MAZUMA CAMPGROUNDS CALLED ANNIE SPRINGS. SEASONED HIKERS OF THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL CONGREGATE HERE, JUST OUTSIDE THE GENERAL STORE. SHOULDER YOUR WAY BETWEEN THEM, AS IF YOU OWNED THE PLACE, AND BOTTLE UP SOME OF THIS SWEETWATER. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT

purest of waters, Crater Lake
Annie Spring, Mazuma Camp, Crater Lake

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NORTH UNIT = HERDS OF BISON WANDER PLAINS BUT ALSO CROSS THE ROAD HERE. IF YOU GO FOR A HIKE OR A JOG, YOU OFTEN COME UPON THEM. GRAZING HERDS USUALLY HAVE A SENTINEL OR TWO SPLIT AWAY FROM THE OTHERS. THESE ARE THE BULLS YOU HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT. TRY WALKING VERY SLOWLY, OR BETTER YET, AWAY FROM THE HERD. THE SENTINEL WILL THEN VISIBLY LOWER HIS GUARD; THE BEST HORIZON IN AMERICA (EXCEPT PERHAPS OF WEST TEXAS OR HALEAKALA) IS ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THIS PARK; LOOK OUT FROM US 85 LOOKING WEST. THE VIEW EAST ISN’T BAD EITHER

---- WATERTON-GLACIER = REMEMBER THAT THIS IS AN INTERNATIONAL PARK. I STRONGLY URGE YOU TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT TO VISIT WATERTON LAKES. THE PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL SITS ATOP A HILL OVERLOOKING THE LAKE WHICH MEANDERS INTO THE HORIZON OF MOUNTAINS, EVEN IF YOU DON’T LODGE HERE, THEY HAVE A WONDERFUL RESTAURANT. AND IN TOWN, WHICH IS TINY, THERE IS A DINER AT THE END OF THE STREET THAT MAKES FINE BREAKFASTS. THERE ARE ALSO BEAUTIFUL HIKES THAT GAIN ELEVATION FOR DRAMATIC VIEWS OF THE LAKES. SING IN ORDER TO MAKE BEARS AWARE OF YOUR PRESENCE

---- GLACIER PARK = THIS IS A MAGNIFICENT PARK. THERE IS A ROAD THAT IS LESS EXPLORED THAN GOING TO THE SUN HIGHWAY. IT TRAVERSES THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE PARK TO KINTLA LAKE. IN YEARS PAST IT WAS MUCH LESS DEVELOPED. PTARMIGAN COULD BE SEEN SCUTTLING ACROSS AND HIDING IN THE GRASSES. BUT IT STILL HOLDS SOME OF ITS GLORY. THERE IS A SMALL CAMPGROUND AT KINTLA LAKE. DEER WANDER PEACEFULLY INTO THE CAMP, BUT COUGAR MAY LURCH WITHOUT. THERE IS A SMALL STREAM FOR FLY FISHING. THE COLD, CLEAR WATER OF THE LAKE REFLECTS THE MOUNTAIN PEAKS ACROSS THE WAY. OSPREY FISH THE LAKE. IT IS WORTH THE VISIT. AND IF A SITE IS AVAILABLE, IT IS WORTH THE STAY.

---- GREAT SAND DUNES = IT IS BEST TO HIKE THE DUNES EARLY IN THE DAY TO AVOID THE SCORCHING HEAT OF THE SAND. YOU MAY ALSO SEE WILDLIFE AT THIS TIME. MEDANO CREEK USUALLY RUNS INTO LATE SUMMER. PEOPLE USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO SUNBATHE. I HAVE SEEN PEOPLE SITTING IN BEACH CHAIRS WITH THEIR FEET IN THE WATER (THE WATER IS BARELY DEEP ENOUGH TO COVER THEIR ANKLES) WHILE PLAYING WITH A BEACH BALL. SO BRING YOUR BATHING SUIT!!

Great Sand Dunes

---- OLYMPIC = IN THE WESTERN PART OF THIS PARK IS THE HOH RAINFOREST. TAKE A HIKE BEHIND THE MOSS LADEN TREES TO EXPERIENCE THE QUIETEST PLACE IN AMERICA. THERE ARE SPACES IN THIS FOREST THAT ONLY CHIME THE SOUNDS OF NATURE. HOW LONG WILL IT LAST, KNOWING THAT SEA- TAC AIRPORT IS ONE OF THE BUSIEST IN THE WORLD?

---- WIND CAVE = THE LAKOTA SIOUX BELIEVE THAT THE FIRST PEOPLE CAME FROM THIS CAVE SYSTEM AND THAT THE CREATOR (WHO HAD WARNED THEM NOT TO EXIT THE CAVE BECAUSE THEY WOULD EXPERIENCE HUNGER AND COLD) TURNED HIMSELF INTO THE BISON SO THEY WOULD NOT GO HUNGRY OR DIE OF EXPOSURE. TRY TO REMEMBER TO BE SOULFULLY REVERENT WHEN ENTERING THE CAVE

Wind Cave, original entrance

Credits:

John Syron