Nearly 100 countries–the U.S. included–have lands classified as “National Parks.”
National parks are designed to protect the natural heritage, history, beauty, and wildlife of millions of acres across the globe. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner once referred to our national park system as the “best idea we ever had.” And he may be right.
For one week each April, America’s National Park Foundation celebrates the nation’s “best idea” with National Park Week, a time to pay tribute to the public lands we all share and enjoy. Here is a rundown of the highlights during National Park Week:
National Park Week 2018
April 21 – Fee Free Day (Yes, for every national park in America!)
April 21 – National Junior Ranger Day
April 21 – National Volunteer Day (part of National Volunteer Week)
April 22 – Earth Day — & the 50th anniversary of the National Trail, Wild & Scenic Rivers System!
April 28: Military & Veteran Recognition Day
April 29: National Park Rx Day
Each of our national parks is unique; an experience all their own. To highlight and celebrate this amazing diversity, we’ve highlighted three iconic parks below–all very different–to illustrate the wide and varied experiences that are available to active travelers everywhere.
Montana – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park – and widely held as the first national park in the world, setting a historical precedence for the protection of public lands. Spanning over 3,500 square miles across Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the Yellowstone wilderness features gigantic canyons, rolling forests, and a host of hot springs and geysers atop the largest volcanic hot spot on the entire planet. This park is not only the first of its kind, but an untouched and wild wonderland in a league all its own, and one of the best-loved destinations for adventure travelers across the globe.
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Oregon – Crater Lake National Park
Yes, Crater Lake really is that blue. There’s a legend in Oregon that when the first Crater Lake visitors with color cameras took their photos to be developed, they were reimbursed for what Kodak assumed was an error in the printing process. Little did Kodak know, the impossibly bright blue hue of Oregon’s Crater Lake is in fact, real. Adventure travelers will find gorgeous hiking (and biking) trails along the Pacific Crest Trail and thrilling rafting opportunities on the world-famous Rogue River. And for those more dramatically inclined, the evenings bring live performances to one of the most beautiful outdoor theatres in the world – Ashland Shakespeare Festival. This national park is a consistent favorite for couples looking for action, relaxation and a touch of romance.
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South Dakota – Black Hills National Park
Black Hills National Park has a lot to enjoy – but it really shines as a family-friendly adventure that’s both action-packed and educational. Long before the Black Hills became a national park, it was at the heart of the Wild West in its lawless days. Its historical legacy lives on in towns like Deadwood, where legendary figures like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Buffalo Bill made history. Black Hills National Park is also home to Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial and many other enduring symbols of democracy, making this park truly unique in its blend of thrilling outdoor activities and stirring historical presence. If you’re looking for a family-adventure that’s action-packed and educational, designed to make learning fun and exciting for the kids (and you!), visit our Black Hills National Park vacation page for a full-detail itinerary.
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Planning a trip to one (or three) national parks this year? Our FREE Guide to Planning the Ultimate National Park Vacation combines insider vacation planning tips and ideas into one 17-page PDF guide. Download our free guide for inspirational ideas and practical advice to help you easily plan the best national park vacation.
DOWNLOAD FREE NATIONAL PARKS PLANNING GUIDE