National Parks: This Just In

You probably are one of many who call Yosemite National Park a beloved place. Breathtaking is a hackneyed phrase, but bursting into daylight after passing through the last tunnel on Highway 41 and seeing Yosemite Valley below draws audible gasps from first time visitors. Even novice photographers cannot botch a shot of the Half Dome knob along with the gray rocks of the walled valley and the flowing waterfalls.

Less than five percent of crowds touring Yosemite actually see the entire valley park because of the visitor population is so large. Still people are more inclined to withstand the crowds in Yosemite because of its almost vertical nature than they are in parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Travelers tend to look to the sky unmindful of the people around them. Fewer people visit in autumn as well as winter and springtime compared to the multitudes of the summer months.

When it comes to fave national parks the Great Smoky Mountains is usually at the bottom of the list. People must traverse the park trails to really say they visited the place. Grand Canyon trip takers are almost just half of the annual 9.2 million that go see the park. I’ve been there three times and endured crowded packed roads and pretty but, for a lifelong Westerner, relatively unspectacular scenery. Gateway towns like Cherokee and Gatlinburg are filled with tourist traps and casinos. Air quality has dipped considerably for years now. National Parks are known for this feature but with so many soaking it in it failed to last.

The Wrangell Saint Elias is one more national park of interest. The Gates of the Arctic and the Kobuk Valley belong to the Alaska parklands totaling 55 million acres. However few have traveled farther southeast of Anchorage to what park services dubs The North American Mountain Kingdom. This is where the most mountains and glaciers measuring 16000 feet can be found.

Grand Canyon visitors often look forward to retouring its national park in the North Rim. Grand Canyon crowds in the South Rim deter most tourists from traveling there and instead opt to drive all the way to the North Rim. A little isolation comes to mind when repeat visitors come back to the Grand Canyon and again encounter the large crowds longing to quietly appreciate the awesome canyon vista.

My favorite wildlife is the Everglades where I’ve seen buffalo in Yellowstone and grizzlies in Kobuk Valley. A bunch of alligators usually sun themselves on mudflats covering the Anhinga Trail of Everglades which is also a fun to watch. People find it terrifying to be face to face with these sharp toothed monsters and get even more disturbed by the sight of them slipping into the water all the while never breaking their gaze.

Many assume that Monument Valley is one of the national parks. After all the red monoliths are closely associated with the West. The space sitting between Arizona and Utah form a portion of the reservation for the Navajo Indians and has been used as backdrop for several flicks. There however is no way of making it a national park as it currently is classified as an autonomous area. Given this many still find it a preferred travel location.

National parks should exclude Hot Springs is how many visitors feel. Bathhouse Row in Arkansas serves up awesome back rubs done in the traditional spirit. It may not cut it as a national park but it has all the makings of a historical landmark. Although it belonged to the federal lands since the 1830s the area was grandfathered in the same year 1916 the National Park Service showed up. Once in the club, it’s next to impossible to get out.

A couple of perks await at the Glacier Waterton International Peace Park.

The end result is one international peace parkland for you to enjoy. One of my favorite stops is the faux Tudor Prince of Wales Hotel on the Canadian side, with it’s oh so British Empire era tea hour.
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