Even if you’re not the most outdoorsy person these five U.S. National Park sites need to be on your bucket list. All of the National Parks have something special about them, which is why they are protected in the first place, right? So why visit these ones? Well let me tell you a little about them and you’ll see why.
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Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located in the north eastern part of Texas, this National Park site is very isolated. It can only be accessed from the eastern side. While you can certainly hike in to explore more of this amazing mountain range, just be aware of it’s seclusion. You will love learning about the interesting history and exploring the unique landscape.
If you are up to the challenge, this is the place where you can hike to the highest peak in the state of Texas. It’s a 3,000 foot climb to reach the top, make sure if you go to allow yourself plenty of time and bring lots of water. There are plenty of other great hikes, like Devil’s Hall Trail, if you want something less challenging.
Make sure you start your visit in the Pine Springs Visitors Center. The Park Rangers always have great information and are very helpful in making your experience a good one. Visit the Frijole Ranch to learn about the ranchers that tried to settle the area. You will find it very interesting to get a glimpse into their life. If you want to see some of the areas wildlife this is the place to go.
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Camping is available in the park, but amenities are limited. It makes a great day trip for those of you that may be visiting Carlsbad Caverns which is nearby. The cave system is actually part of this mountain range. It is not well known so it doesn’t get as crowded as the more popular parks, but it is just as beautiful and full of history.
Big Cypress National Preserve
National Park sites can go by many names, National Preserve is one of these names. Big Cypress is located just north of Everglades National Park in the very southern tip of Florida. Many people do not even realize it’s there until they are in it.
There are so many activities available in this National Preserve to choose from you will have a hard time deciding what to do. The area is a mixture of swamp, estuaries, as well as tropical and temperate plant communities. Wildlife is abundant here too and you’re sure to see something new.
There are several campsites to choose from for tents or RV’s. It’s close to the city so you’re never too far from other lodging options as well. Take a canoe ride with a ranger or go on a guided walk. These activities can help you learn more about the area and what lives there.
Birding, hiking, boating, and wildlife observation are just some of the great things you will want to do while you are here. Take the time to walk some of the trails and you are sure to spot some alligators lazing in the sun.
Hundreds of species of bird migrate through this area every year, so spotting one you’ve never seen won’t be hard. Bring your canoe, rent one, or join a ranger program to explore the beautiful waters that are so vital to this Eco-system. Bring your bug spray, hat, and sunscreen and enjoy Big Cypress National Preserve.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Site
This National Park site can be found in Ohio just south of Cleveland. Walking and biking are some of the main attractions to this park. The Towpath trail takes you along the historic path of the Ohio and Eerie canals. It leads to some of the historic sites that can be found within the park.
While this may not be the most beautiful park in the US it does have an amazing story to tell. The transformation it has made since first being populated by early settlers is incredible. Visit the Canal Exploration Center to learn some interesting facts about the history of the canals. It has some great hands on learning activities that all will enjoy.
Make sure you visit the Everette Covered Bridge to get some beautiful photos. Walk or ride along the Towpath Trail to experience what it was like on the canal. Take the boardwalk to see the Beaver Marsh, a wetland created by beaver. This is a great spot to see some wildlife, like Great Blue Herons and turtles.
This National Park site has a great story to tell which I think you will appreciate. The people of Ohio had to fight hard to make Cuyahoga Valley what it is today. They did this for a reason, it is an important place, for the environment as well as for its history.
Petrified Forest National Park
The hot dry deserts of Arizona have many unexpected sights held within them. One of these sights is Petrified Forest National Park found on the eastern side of the state. This is a place like no other. Petrified wood and pieces of trees can be found all over the world, but not like here in this park.
This place contains the most petrified wood found in a single area in the world. It is an amazing sight to behold. These petrified trees look as though they have been cut down. They are laying on the ground as if someone just chopped them down, there are even slivers of wood like you would see near a chopping block. It is amazing. The only difference is some of the beautiful coloring in the petrified wood.
One of the great things about this National Park Site is that you are able to hike many off the
beaten path trails. You will love getting to explore deeper and see things most others miss. Visit the Painted Desert Visitors Center for more information on trails that are off the beaten path.
Possibly the most interesting sight in the park from a historical perspective is the Agate House. This building is constructed entirely of petrified wood and even though it is only a replica, it is impressive. The ancient people that inhabited the area actually built and lived in houses constructed of the petrified wood.
It is a place unlike any you will visit anywhere else on Earth. The dry desert climate helps to preserve the petrified wood. It just goes on for miles and miles in all directions. It is something you will never forget once you’ve seen it. Just remember to leave it all where you find so that all future generations will see it just like you.
Congaree National Park
Congaree is probably not one you’ve heard of. It is small and not well known. This National Park site is located east of Columbia South Carolina. Perhaps you’re wondering what is so special about this small park.
Well, it is a very important old growth bottomland hardwood forest. In fact, it is the largest intact one remaining in the southeastern United States. This Eco-system is very important to the watershed and was almost destroyed by development and the logging industry.
Lucky for us it wasn’t because it is beautiful. There are several hikes available within the park, all of which are fairly easy. This is due to the constant flooding the area gets. This place is a must see just because it is so rare to find something like this. It is what you would imagine Everglades to look like.
You will likely get a glimpse of snakes, frogs, and plenty of birds too. Don’t worry though they like to stay in the water and out of sight as much as possible. Be sure to take time to look into the forest because you never know what you will see.
If you want to explore the area on the water make sure you bring your own canoe or rent one nearby. The park does not have them available. Backcountry camping is available in the park, find out more at the Harry Hampton Visitors Center. Frequent flooding can occur so be prepared for some trail closures, they are common.
Now You Know Why You Need to Add These U.S. National Park Sites to Your Bucket List
There are so many National Park sites that it’s hard to know which ones to visit. If you are looking for some amazing scenery without the crowds these five U.S. National Park sites are for you. They provide beautiful scenery, some interesting history, and plenty to do while you’re there. So get out there and enjoy some National Park Sites.
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About the Author
Sarah Bloomfield is a travel writer on a grand family adventure to explore America. With her family she explores museums, zoos, state capitols, and National Parks. Her kids are taught while the family travels and they learn in a hands on way through educational stops. Since the family is planning on visiting every state capitol in America, their website is called statebystate.net.
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