Summer Travel: National Parks, Trails, and Wilderness Areas

Summer Travel: National Parks, Trails, and Wilderness Areas

If you're making plans for a family get away, why not celebrate this year's centennial of the National Park Service by visiting one of the country's national parks? Or try a national scenic trail or a beautiful wilderness area. There's something for everyone, from easy strolls to demanding mountain hikes. Check out some of our favorites.

  • Acadia National Park, Maine

    Acadia National Park, Maine

    The first officially designated national park in the eastern United States, Acadia's 47,000 acres boast woodlands, rocky beaches and granite peaks, among them Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the east coast.

     

  • Sunrise in the Adirondacks

    Adirondack Mountains, New York

    From Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State, to family-friendly Mount Jo and popular Algonquin, the Algonquin's 46 High Peaks, each at or near 4,000 feet high, provide ample opportunities for hiking and other forms of outdoor recreation.

     

  • A winding stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

    The Blue Ridge Parkway, the most frequently visited attraction in the National Park System, weaves and winds it way though 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to be enjoyed along this scenic route.

     

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

    This park, encompassing more than 800 square miles, boasts 150 hiking trails that cater to every interest. Whether you'd like to enjoy a waterfall, old-growth forest, or scenic views, you'll find a trail just perfect for you.

     

  • A view of the Appalachian Trail as it passes through New Jesey

    The Appalachian Trail, Maine to Georgia

    Connecting 14 states from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail is the world's longest hiking-only footpath in the world, covering some 2,190 miles. In the neighborhood of 3 million people a year hike all or some portion of the trail every year.

     

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

    This lakeshore follows the Lake Superior shoreline for more than 40 miles, boasting sandstone cliffs, dunes, waterfalls, lakes and forest, in addition to beaches and sand dunes. Hiking, camping and a variety of other seasonal outdoor activities beckon travelers.

  • Big Bend National Park, Texas

    Big Bend National Park, Texas

    This Texas-sized park, covering 801,163 acres, features more than 150 miles of hiking trails, with elevations ranging from 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande to 7,832 feet on Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains. That range of elevation makes for a wide variety of plants, animals, and scenic vistas.

     

  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

    Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

    This often spectacularly scenic park covers 415 square miles and boasts more than 300 miles of hiking trails. As you might expect, the park boasts a wide range of elevations, from 7,500 to over 12,000 feet.

     

  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    Bryce Canyon, a national park since 1928, is best known for its colorful limestone rock carved by nature's forces into unusual shapes including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called "hoodoos." Small by National Park standards, the park covers just 56.2 square miles.

     

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

    This inspiring example of nature's handiwork is 277 river miles, up to 18 miles wide, and, most important for anyone considering a hike to the bottom, a mile deep. A trip all the way down and back up takes more than a single day, but the park offers many day hikes, too.

     

  • Yosemite National Park, California

    Yosemite National Park, California

    Covering nearly 1,200 square miles, Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls, but it also boasts deep valleys, grand meadows, giant sequoias and more than 750 miles of trail to explore. First protected in 1864, Yosemite was designated a national park in 1890.

     

  • Pacific Crest Trail, California, Oregon and Washington

    Pacific Crest Trail, California, Oregon and Washington

    The first recorded proposal of a trail that would traverse Washington, Oregon and California dates to 1926, and in the decades since, many have worked to make that dream a reality. The Pacific Crest Trail, approximately 2,650 miles in length, was named a National Scenic Trail in 1968.

     

  • Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

    Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

    The Three Sisters Wilderness area covers 281,190 acres, with approximately 260 miles of hiking trails. It boasts peaks of more than 10,000 feet, alpine meadows, waterfalls, lava fields and glacial lakes.

     

  • Eagle Cap Wilderness in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon

    Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon

    This forest's 2.3 million acres extend from the Blue Mountains and rugged Wallowa Mountains down to the canyon country of the Snake River on the Idaho border and include more than 2,700 miles of trails. In addition to hiking, activities such as camping, bicycling, fishing and horseback riding can be enjoyed.

     

  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

    Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

    An active volcano, Mount Rainier rises to an elevation of 14,410 feet above sea level, and the best way to experience it is the Wonderland Trail, which celebrated its centennial last year. As park ranger superintendent Roger Toll wrote in 1920: "There is a trail that encircles the mountain. It is a trail that leads through primeval forests, close to the mighty glaciers, past waterfalls and dashing torrents, up over ridges, and down into canyons; it leads through a veritable wonderland of beauty and grandeur."

    READ MORE: 7 TIPS TO GET YOUR KIDS OUTSIDE

     

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