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Showing posts from February, 2019

National parks of the Pacific West

National parks of the Pacific West By Damien Martin
     The Pacific West national parks region includes the West Coast of the continental U.S. plus Hawaii and territories in the Pacific Ocean. The parks of the region show off the wonders of plate tectonics and house some of the oldest living organisms on Earth.

     Featuring the tallest trees on Earth, this Northern California park falls under national and state jurisdiction. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and served as a shooting location for several movies, most notably serving as the forest moon of Endor in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Several options for a scenic drive take visitors through ancient forests (including iconic drive-through trees), along the coast and into flowering prairies. The wildlife ranges from banana slugs to gray whales. The star attractions are the Coast redwoods, which live on average 500-700 years, with a few known to be 2,000 years old.

Mount Rainier
     Peaking at 14,410 feet above sea…

National parks of the Intermountain region

National parks of the Intermountain region By Damien Martin
     As you move west, the competition for top national parks gets a lot stiffer. The Intermountain region has a lot of open space that is uninhabitable because of arid deserts and the plate tectonic that created the Rocky Mountains. Thus, there are a lot of wide open spaces that really bring it when it comes to outdoor activity and unforgettable vistas.

     It became a national park in 1872, 44 years before there even was a National Park Service, and it may very well be the first designated national park in the world. Covering more than 2 million acres in three states (Wyoming, Montana and Idaho), Yellowstone features crowd favorites such as Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. There’s also a thriving bison population, along with many other types of wildlife and a huge amount of geothermal activity. Plus, Grand Teton National Park is nearby and combines very well with Yellowstone in terms of trip planning.

National parks of the Midwest

National parks of the Midwest By Damien Martin
     Continuing with our series celebrating the national parks, this week we look at the Midwest region, stretching from Ohio in the east to Arkansas in the south and the Dakotas in the northwest.
Isle Royale         In Lake Superior off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Isle Royale is an outdoor haven. The park is a UNESCO international biosphere reserve. The park is set to be the new home of 20 to 30 relocated wolves in the next three to five years after the population was reduced to one female in 2017. About 400 islands make up the park, so kayaking and canoeing opportunities are just about endless. The artist-in-residence program enables artists in all mediums to capture the beauty of the park and share it with others.
     Unlike Isle Royale, which closes from Nov. 1-April 15, this northern Minnesota park stays open all winter. Visitors can explore by snowmobile, cross-country skis, snowshoes or driving along the ice road. The time-h…

National parks of the Northeast & Southeast

National parks of the Northeast & Southeast By Damien Martin
     With the government shutdown over, at least temporarily, our national parks are back open. Many of them require a lot of cleanup work to get back into their usual pristine beauty. Not having them officially open for a few weeks reminded us how great our national parks our, so we thought we’d do a series highlighting some of our favorites from each region. The 60 parks are divided into seven regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Intermountain and Pacific West, plus Alaska and the national capital area. We’ll start with the Northeast and Southeast.
     Featuring Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the East Coast and one of the first places in the U.S. to see sunrise each morning, Acadia is the oldest designated national park east of the Mississippi River. Covering several islands off the coast of Maine, the park is an excellent destination for birdwatchers and rewards hikers with stunning ocean views. Th…