1. Biscayne National Park – Homestead, Florida – When you travel to Miami, you probably have more on your mind that a national park, but if you can find a way to pull yourself out of bed after a wild night in South Beach, I suggest you venture out to Biscayne National Park to learn about and explore North America’s coral reef ecosystems.
2. Katmai National Park & Preserve – King Salmon, Alaska – Who says you have to go to Hawaii to see active volcanoes? Or perhaps you’ve already seen the ones in Hawaii and are ready for a new challenge? Katmai is home to 6 active volcanoes, and another 10 volcanoes that have not erupted in the last 250 years.
3. National Park of American Samoa – Pago Pago, American Samoa – While American Samoa isn’t exactly next door, it is a pristine area so far left pretty much untouched by Western civilization, particularly in the park. The sky is the limit in American Samoa, literally. To enjoy it, you have to fly there, and it’s well beyond Hawaii. Another plus is the opportunity to discover the wonders of the rich Samoan culture, which has fueled everything from the American tattoo culture to the National Football League!
4. Inyo National Forest – Bishop, California – While not technically a national park (being governed by the U.S. Forest Service, not the Natinoal Park Service), Inyo has something to share with all of us about Mother Nature that you may not have heard before unless you have taken a Botany class or two, like me. Believe it or not the oldest living on the planet is not a tortoise, its a tree, more specifically a bristlecone pine tree, even more specifically a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva). See, even their scientific name refers to them being really old. And the oldest of olds can be found in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest.
5. Great Basin National Park – Baker, Nevada – Once again, not nearly as famous as Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada’s Great Basin National Park offers something a little more special than some gambling and a drunken shotgun wedding! Great Basin’s name comes from the Great Basin, the large, dry, desolate region between the Sierra Nevada in California/Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Interestingly, the park’s biggest attraction is found straight up. It’s the Milky Way in all its beauty, clearly visible without interference from any city lights!
6. Isle Royale National Park – Houghton, Michigan – Here’s a challenge: a national park accessible only by seaplane or boat. It’s not even actually located in Houghton, but that’s where the Ranger III, the NPS’s largest ferry boat to the park is located. Isle Royale is located closer to the Canadian shore than it is to the Michigan shore. And its remote location has only added to its pristine nature.
7. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve – Gustavus, Alaska – How many of y’all have seen a glacier in person? Glacier Bay is home not only to a slew of scientific teams exploring climate change but also to a wilderness sanctuary (both on land and in the water). If a trip to Alaska isn’t exactly your style, you can try a cruise! Most Alaskan cruises hit their northern peak of the trip at Glacier Bay.
Thanks for stopping by, and come back again for the next installment of MotherNaturesPen!