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Tag Results: National Parks
Jiuzhai Valley National Park, or locally known as Jiuzhaigou (Chinese for “Nine Village Valley” because there are nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the park), is one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Sure, that’s a lofty phrase, what with the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but it’s true (and we have the photos to prove it). With over 220 species of birds, countless endangered plants and animals (like the giant panda!), the national park has plenty to see other than just the landscape. Read more
I’ve often said that visiting a U.S. National Park in the off-season is something that any park aficionado should consider. After all, there are few things better than natural splendor sans the crowds, right? Well, perhaps there’s one thing that’s better: visiting a U.S. National Park just as it opens. As spring slowly creeps up on us, the first shoulder season of park visitation is beginning, and it’s an excellent time to beat the masses to the parks you’ve had on your bucket list. Let’s take a look at a few that are opening their gates soon, or are transitioning from partly operational to fully functioning. Read more
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for travelers who enjoy America’s national park, with the hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite and now a way-too-close encounter between a young park guest and a very large bison at Yellowstone National Park. It’s not uncommon for visitors to Yellowstone to witness wildlife up close, and bison present the majority of those opportunities. However, nearly every map, brochure, posted sign, and announcement from the Parks Department urges people to maintain a safe distance between themselves and the park’s four-legged inhabitants. The folks in the video below, however, chose to ignore these warnings and narrowly avoided disaster.
Bison frequently cross over paths that have been installed for park visitors. Common sense dictates that you give these massive creatures a wide birth as they go by. Park rules require that guests stay 25 feet away from large animals and 100 feet from bears. The people shown in this video are closer to the bison than most commuters are to each other in a New York City subway. Before too long, they were running for their lives, and one young guest was nearly trampled. Sound terrifying? The adults involved seemed to find the whole incident delightfully amusing. Read more
Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer – and with it, the beckoning of warmer weather and the great outdoors – and in the upcoming months, there’s a slew of ways to do just that at national parks across the country. Since there are parks in four U.S. territories and every state except Delaware, chances are there’s one within easy distance for you, and entry fees are usually no more than $20 per car.
Here, some of the best offerings guaranteed to inspire you to lace up the hiking boots and get outside. Some highlights: a full moon hike this weekend and the fourth annual National Get Outdoors Day on June 9, which comes with free entry into many popular parks, including Grand Canyon National Park and state parks across the country.
If you’re looking for ways to take advantage of the long weekend for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, consider the national parks. From January 14-16, entry to all 397 national parks is free. (Although the parks you’re familiar with may not charge fees, more than 100 national parks do; to see the list of parks that are fee-free only on designated fee-free dates, click here.)
Specifically MLK, Jr. and Civil Rights themed parks and monuments include the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia (MLK, Jr.’s birthplace), the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama that follows the route of the 1965 Civil Rights March, and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Certain parks are also holding events to commemorate Dr. King, including tributes at the D.C. Memorial, Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey, Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Tennessee, and Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. (where the tribute is an MLK Film Festival).
Yosemite National Park might be lacking in snow so far this year, but the lack of picturesque snowy landscapes means that areas of the park that are ordinarily closed for the winter still remain open. Visitors to the park can expect the rare opportunities that the usual winter temperatures but unusual dry weather provide: As of now, your winter getaway to Yosemite can still include a drive along Tioga Road (which usually closes in November) with a stop at Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake, a visit to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia, and a view of the iconic Glacier Point.
The park also boasts its usual winter activities, which include ice skating at Tenaya Lodge and Curry Village, skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area, and even hiking and backpacking. Note: The National Parks Service keeps up to date information on what activities are available and what the current conditions are, and you should make sure to check before your visit if the roads are likely to remain open.
Attention, hikers, mountain bikers, and nature lovers: Mark your calendars for September 24, National Public Lands Day. You’ll be joining more than 170,000 volunteers doing upkeep and improvements at more than 2,000 sites across the country – think of it as physical goodwill for all those trails you’ve slogged up in your hiking boots or bombed down on your mountain bike.
It’s as simple as locating a volunteer project in your area and signing up. If you want to make a mini volunteer-vacation out of it, stay the night (or the whole weekend) in a campground or at an on-site lodge (though expect popular spots like Yosemite National Park to fill up early). For your time, you’ll get a voucher to return for free.
Nationwide heat waves have made it feel like summer is in full swing, but the year’s steamiest season officially kicks off June 21. To celebrate, the National Park Service is waiving entrance fees at its 394 parks for that day only.
That means you won’t have to spend a penny to witness the Grand Canyon’s vertigo-inducing cliffs or be dwarfed by Yosemite’s massive sequoias.
The only drawback here is that the solstice falls on a Tuesday. If you’re bound by vacation days instead of a school calendar, we still suggest playing hooky and checking out one of our Top 10 National Park Hikes. Favorite picks include spelunking in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave, exploring Bryce Canyon’s otherworldly hoodoos, and retreating to Shenandoah National Park’s leafy section of the Appalachian Trail.
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Last summer when I posted about the merits of a national park family vacation, an annual national park pass was only $80. Surprisingly that’s still the cost, and as I noted it still might be a good bet even if your brood’s only hitting one park, since per-person park admission fees can add up.
The good news is that if you’re heading next week to one of the 100-plus parks, like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, that do levy per-person or per-vehicle fees, April 16 to 24 is National Park Week, when all the parks that normally charge waive their entrance fees.
Also good news is that several hotels, restaurants, and shops will be offering discounts during these fee-free days, a fact brought to my attention by the not-for-profit National Parks Promotion Council (www.nationalparksonline.org), which lists a bunch of these offers on its site.
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