“Go Wild” is the theme for 2015’s National Park Week, from April 19 – 27. Take advantage of free admission the first weekend to visit any one of America’s 59 national parks, including these magnificent locations:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee:
The most visited national park in the U.S. hosts its Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage April 21 – 25. Nature lovers will appreciate a variety of beautiful wildflowers, including trillium, lady slipper orchids, and violets. The park offers guided tours, birdwatching hikes, nature talks, photography & art workshops and indoor seminars, as well as child-friendly walks on insect identification. Don’t miss Cataloochee Cove, an historical site where a dozen abandoned houses, barns, churches and other buildings offer testament to the life of settlers in Southern Appalachia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Zion National Park, Utah:
Massive cream, pink and red sandstone cliffs soar 2000 feet above the valley floor, offering a great opportunity for climbing, scrambling and rappelling enthusiasts. Non-mountain climbers can enjoy backpacking, camping, hiking, biking, birdwatching (over 200 species live in the area), white water rafting or guided horseback riding trips. Join a ranger program and learn about geology, plants, animals, human history and more. Youth programs are also available for children accompanied by an adult.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado:
Created by winds sweeping the San Luis Valley floor, the ever-changing sand dunes stretch for over 30 square miles. Take a scenic drive, sled or sand board down a dune, camp, hike, horseback ride and more in this park containing 8 different life zones, from salty wetlands to ancient pine forests to frozen alpine peaks. Stroll the Montville Nature Trail, an easy hike offering the chance to see mule deer, chipmunks, desert cottontail and even coyotes.
Yosemite National Park, California:
Established in 1890, Yosemite is the third oldest American national park. Home to 400 animal species, it offers an abundance of activities including guided tours, nature and history walks, horseback riding, overnight back packing, and camping. Popular destinations include El Capitan, the world’s tallest granite monolith and one of the world’s top climbing sites; Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America; and Mariposa Grove, home to giant sequoia trees like Grizzly Giant, nearly 100 feet in circumference and estimated at 1800 years old! Finally, don’t leave without visiting the reconstructed Indian village of Ahwahneechee and the Yosemite Museum.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio:
This refuge for native plants and wildlife is located surprisingly near the cities of Cleveland and Akron. Natural attractions include the Brandywine Falls, and eroding bluffs of sandstone dating back 320 million years. Ride the vintage train for a scenic tour of the park (weekends only), take a guided birdwatching tour, canoe or kayak down the Cuyahoga River, or have a quiet picnic with your family. Try your hand at EarthCaching, an offshoot of geocaching. In this activity, participants navigate to a specific location using the GPS system in order to learn about a unique geological feature of the Earth.
Now gather your necessities in water resistant baggage such as ecbc’s Hercules Laptop Backpack or Harpoon Daypack, made of nearly indestructible materials. Add ecbc’s Portable Power Pack to keep your electronic devices fully juiced, and “Go Wild” at the U.S. National Park of your dreams.