Skip to main content

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-honored Minnesota tradition of ice-fishing goes on all winter. On the right nights, the Northern Lights put on a show across the sky, and in summer the August Perseids meteor shower dazzles. Lakes make up about 40 percent of the park and are its lifeblood, becoming a highway to adventure when the ice melts.

Hot Springs

     The eponymous thermal springs have been in use for 8,000 years, and visitors can take a dip in the traditional Buckstaff Bathhouse or get a 21st-century experience in the Quapaw Baths and Spa. Direct federal supervision of this Arkansas park began in 1877, making it the oldest park managed by the National Park System, predating the system by decades. Once you pass Bathhouse Row in the National Historic Landmark District, there are 26 miles of hiking trails and campsites at Gulpha Gorge.


      Covering 380 square miles of the largest undisturbed mixed-grass prairie in the U.S., Badlands in South Dakota is home to impressive modern animals such as bison and bighorn sheep, as well as fossils of some of the most fearsome and fascinating creatures such as ancient rhinos and saber-toothed cats. The South Unit of the park is co-managed by the Oglala Lakota tribe, who have inhabited the area for hundreds of years and held Ghost Dances in the 1890s.

Theodore Roosevelt

     Roosevelt, one of the champions of establishing the National Park System, came to the Dakota Territory in 1883 and found a landscape full of majestic creatures. The North Dakota park is home to bison, elk, badgers and prairie dogs among many others. Scientists in the park are studying bison DNA to gain a better understanding of how to maintain and grow the population after our national mammal was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800s. “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune,” Roosevelt said in encouraging conservation. The park named after him is doing its part.

Popular posts from this blog

Virtuoso Travel Week highlights

Virtuoso Travel Week highlights By Damien Martin      It might not be that big, tucked on the side of Spain on the western edge of Europe, but Portugal is the hottest destination going this year. Combine the capital of Lisbon -- think a European San Francisco -- with second city Porto and the beach-laden Algarve region with the diverse islands of Madeira and the Azores, and Portugal becomes a lot bigger than you might have previously imagined. That was one takeaway from Virtuoso Travel Week this month in Las Vegas, where more than 6,000 attendees from 100 countries shared the latest and greatest in the travel industry.

      Another important trend is the rise of sustainability. From resorts such as The Brando in French Polynesia, where 95 percent of the energy used is renewable. Buildings made from local, renewable and recycled material blend with their natural surroundings, and even waste is turned into compost that is used in organic gardens. The resort’s conservation program focuse…

World Cup semifinals: ranking the destinations

World Cup semifinals: ranking the destinations By Damien Martin
     Though the final isn’t until Sunday, we do know one thing for sure about the team that will hoist the World Cup: The winning country will hail from Europe. With the last remaining South American teams, Uruguay and Brazil, ousted in the quarterfinals we’re left with an all-Europe final four. While each team has a unique story of making it this far and its own collection of stars who led the way, we’re making our picks based on what the semifinalist countries have to offer for travelers.

France vs. Belgium
      It’s matchup of haute cuisine vs. comfort foods. Cassoulet and escargot vs. waffles and chocolate. Those French fries we’re all so fond of? The origin is highly in dispute. Ask a Belgian, and he’ll say that Belgium invented the delicious potato everyone knows and loves, and that the term “French fries” comes from a French gastronomic hegemony that subsumed neighboring cuisine under the French umbrella. One thin…

World Cup 2018: Whom to root for based on your travel style

World Cup 2018: Whom to root for based on your travel style By Damien Martin
     The World Cup is in full swing in Russia, and as you must know by now, the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify. Despite that fact, there’s still a month’s worth of games to be played, so you might need a new team to root for. Sure, you could trace your ancestry and pull for that country. Or, you could back a team based on your travel style.

      The nation of about 330,000 people is in its first World Cup after a quarterfinal run in the 2016 European championships. The soccer team’s rise has coincided with a spike in tourism to the land of fire and ice. Iceland as a team is the plucky underdog that everyone is abuzz over, much like the country itself. With beards covering their chiseled Nordic jaws, ‎Gylfi SigurĂ°sson and the crew are the hipsters of the World Cup, the soccer world’s answer to lumbersexuals. When you hop on the Iceland bandwagon, just remember, we liked them before it was …