Grand Island National Recreation Area: Hiking Across 5,000 Years of History

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Fishermen may be pleased with the smallmouth bass population in the upper reaches of the river, or the largemouth bass and catfish in the lower reaches. Yosemite one of the most well known rock climbing destinations in the country thanks to its iconic wall, El Capitan has enough outdoor recreation opportunities and breathtaking scenery for everyone to enjoy. Both Yosemite Falls and Half-Dome are extremely picturesque—landscape photographers around the world travel for an opportunity to shoot in this park.

Consider exploring the Tuolumne meadows area on the west side of the park for a more private experience. Snowcapped mountains, incredible backcountry skiing, and lush vegetation are some of the biggest attractions that draw tourists to the state of Colorado. Because of this, many unknowingly miss out on the golden-orange dunes that are ignited in the afternoon sun.

Camp under the stars in this Sahara-like setting, or explore the surrounding meadows and view the dunes from afar. It can get windy in the dunes, so plan accordingly when setting up a campsite. This cross-country trail traverses mountain ridges and winds past scenic vistas, but also gives hikers a taste of New England culture as it passes through farms and historic Colonial villages.

The audacious may choose to through-hike the entire trail, while the more novice hiker may plan to hike a smaller section in just a day. Even though those searching for backcountry adventure often overlook this small state, the National Park Service does have some spectacular things to offer here. As the first state to ratify the constitution in , visitors are able to see an important piece of U.

Walk through the forested trails of Woodlawn, or visit the Court House where abolitionists stood trial for standing up for their beliefs. Keep your eyes open for manatees, crocodiles, or even a Florida panther. Fishermen will feel at home here, with opportunities to everything from acrobatic tarpon, to snapper or snook. Visitors can find solitude while camping under the stars in the 9, acres of designated wilderness area, or can see one of the many historic sites and structures such as Dungeness an abandoned mansion that was originally built as a hunting lodge in Access to the island is by ferry out of St.

Reservations are recommended, as the ferries do fill up. Located in the heart of the island, visitors to this National Park will remain busy for days on end. A drive to the 10,foot summit of the Haleakala Volcano to watch the sunrise or sunset is a Maui tradition—as is a loop around the coastal reaches of the park for spectacular views of deep blue waves and black sand beaches below. Between 2, and 15, years ago, eight major volcanic eruptive periods occurred, forming the deep cracks, craters, and lava fields currently found in the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

With over 50 miles of hiking trails located on 15, acres of federally funded land, visitors will find no shortage of prime kite-flying real estate, wildlife, wetlands, and dunes. Visitors will also discover quaint towns and a vibrant nightlife surrounding the lakeshore area. In , the case of Brown v. Take a tour of the historic Monroe School building, see a temporary exhibit, or wander through the galleries of this National Historic Site.

A relatively new acquisition for the National Park Service, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is still under development and becoming more and more accessible to visitors. Currently, five hiking trails exist, allowing people to explore the remaining 4 percent of the original million acres of prairie that once covered North America: The smells, sights, and culture are distinctly Louisianan.

Backpacking on Grand Island Michigan in Lake Superior next to Pictured Rocks

While here, be sure to take a boat tour through the swamps of the Bayou. Located right next to the bustling New England town of Bar Harbor, Acadia has a rugged seashore, great rock climbing opportunities, and more than enough hiking, camping, and paddling to go around. The adventurous and daring hiker may want to take on the metal rungs and wood bridges on the exposed Precipice Trail hike, while others may prefer to drive through the park and up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

From here, you can be the first in the country to watch the sun rise. Too many people driving across Maryland go right past the National Seashore, which is inhabited by wild horses, without even knowing to stop. Walking along the remote, wind-swept barrier island and spending the night on the waterfront alongside the horses is a very unique and memorable experience. Come in the fall, or in spring before the temperature rises and the bugs are out in full force.

Provincetown, commonly known by locals as P-town, is a colorful community where one can find nightlife, art, and great food. Dunes rising feet above the edges of Lake Michigan, countless miles of beaches, clear lakes, and spectacular views can be found at this National Lakeshore in Michigan.

This park also includes many inland lakes, meadows, wetlands, and northern hardwood and conifer forests. Visitors can access most areas by car, but there is also no shortage of hiking trails. Named after the first people to travel this part of the country—the French-Canadian fur traders known as Voyageurs—this park is famous for its water sports. Canoers, kayakers, and fishermen will find themselves in paradise in this National Park, as a third of its , acres is made up of water. Primary access to the park is by water, so be sure to arrange a boat rental upon.

In the wintertime, the park offers exceptional cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling opportunities. With our current method of mail transportation slowly shifting toward electronic transfer, it is difficult to imagine a country in which the main source of delivering mail was by horseback. Between April and October , mail was carried by horseback on an mile trail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in only 10 days. Today, visitors can follow the footsteps of these postal pioneers on an auto road route.

Traces of the original track, such as landmarks, graves, preserved structures, and markets, still exist and can be seen on the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Going-to-the-Sun Road, which connects the eastern and western halves of the park, makes the area accessible for those unwilling or unable to explore the backcountry by foot. Although the entire park deserves its fair share of exploration time, the east side is a bit more scenic and contains more of the aforementioned glaciers. Also save time for Two Medicine Campground, a car-camping site with RV hookups that makes a basecamp.

Go now, before our changing climate thaws these glaciers forever. Nebraska is generally thought of as flat and barren. Reaching over feet above the North Platte River at its highest point, the Bluff is an important and magnificent monument along the 19th-century Oregon and Mormon trails. Today, visitors hike both paved and unpaved trails, such as the North and South Overlook, for beautiful vistas. You can also see abandoned wagons while walking the historic Oregon Trail Pathway. Mountains towering over 13, feet above sea level, 5,year old pine trees, the smell of sagebrush in the desert, and some of the darkest night skies in the country are the rewards for travelers.

Stargazing, hiking, and fishing are common activities in the spring, summer, and fall, while skiers and snowshoers will have plenty of terrain and solitude for themselves in the winter. The miles of trail that pass through here feature more exposed, above tree-line terrain than any other state, affording hikers uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Washington, the tallest mountain in the northeast. Hikers should be aware that weather changes quickly on the high peaks, and while it can be sunny and 65 degrees in the valleys, it is not uncommon for it to be snowing simultaneously at higher elevations.

Many people associate New Jersey with the northeastern-most cities—and the Jersey Shore. A day hike up Mt. Minsi is moderate and yields panoramic views into the 1,foot deep water gap and across the river toward Mt. The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument contains caves that have been used as shelters by nomadic peoples for thousands of years.

Rooms have been built, pottery has been made, and families have been raised in these cliffs as peoples of different cultures came and went. The park service offers educational tours of the dwellings as well as bird watching, nature walks, and wildlife viewing tours. Backpackers and horseback riders will not be disappointed either, as the monument lies within the Gila Wilderness, an square-mile designated wilderness area that was the first in the country.

Historians may want to visit one of the many historic sites or museums such as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, while outdoor enthusiasts may prefer rock climbing in the Shawnagunks or hiking in the Catskills. The Hudson River Valley also boasts farmers markets, upscale restaurants, and impressive art and sculpture exhibitions. Adventure-seekers may want to take a few days to explore the Shining Rock wilderness area in the Pisgah National Forest, which can be accessed via the Graveyard Fields trailhead.

The Art Loeb Trail traverses a few significant peaks and balds over the 6,foot mark, and should not be overlooked. Many know the story of Lewis and Clark, but are unaware that the tale involved so much more than these two pioneers. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which stretches across the north-central and northwestern part of the country toward the Pacific Ocean, beckons visitors to walk the path of many women and men alike, including servicemen, scientists, and Native Americans.

The trail can be followed by car, bicycle, or boat, as many roads parallel the route and are marked accordingly. Located in close proximity to Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park gives visitors the opportunity to escape the daily grind of urban life and immerse themselves in nature.

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Thriving with diverse plants and wildlife, this park is full of beautiful forests, meandering rivers, rolling hills, and farmland. Take the kids on a vintage train ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, or hike through one of the flowering meadows on a stretch of the miles of trails that can be found within the park boundaries. Fisherman, boaters, and swimmers alike will find what they are looking for at Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma. Visitors find ample opportunities to cool down in the natural springs, streams, and lakes of the park.

Although popular and often crowded, Little Niagara is a great swimming hole to spend an afternoon at. Deep, impossibly dark blue waters have collected in the crater of an active volcano from pure rainfall and snowmelt over thousands of years. Today, Crater Lake National Park boasts, at 1, feet, the deepest and cleanest lake in the country, as there are no inlets or outlets to allow for contamination. The best views of the lake can be accessed from vistas along East and West Rim Drive, as well as from points that can be reached during one of many day hikes.

The solitude of this park in the wintertime is like no other, and cross-country skiers and snowshoers should not miss an opportunity to experience it. Gettysburg National Park, located in south-central Pennsylvania, is the site of arguably the most consequential battle of the Civil War. After a big success in the Shenandoah Valley, General Lee of the Confederate Army pushed north only to be stopped dead in his tracks at Gettysburg.

Today, visitors can almost hear the haunting cries of soldiers fighting on the preserved battlefields. Join an educational tour at this park, or watch a reenactment of the battle. Visitors are welcome to explore the small towns and villages of the valley, which are full of farmers markets, hiking trails, history, and outdoor recreation. Consider taking a tour of the Blackstone Canal, which is responsible for many mills and subsequent mill villages along the river. The hike includes stretches along Gulf Islands National Seashore.

In fact, it is the only section of any National Scenic Trail that flows through an ocean beach. Hikers can sink their tired feet in sugary white sands along the barrier island route and take in the salty breeze. Perhaps its most appealing stop is Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall in Georgia, which is a whopping feet tall. In addition to the waterfall, hikers can expect to see giant hickory, pine and oak trees. The trail leads to a rustic inn accessible only by foot.

Through a series of switchbacks and stairs, hikers gain a look at the unique geological and military history of the volcanic crater with views of the shoreline. The trail is just 1. Just two miles west of Stanley, Iron Creek to Sawtooth Lake Trail begins where alpine meadows and forests are there to welcome hikers.

However it offers an incredible overlook of the Illinois River and Dam at the highest point in the park. Starved Rock Trail also boasts a rich history linked to the American Indian tribe who lived in the area. The trail takes hikers past sandstone rock formations, unique trees and seasonal waterfalls down into a canyon.

Settled near Boone, Ledges State Park is home to four miles of hiking trails that head up and down steep slopes and scenic overlooks. The park has become a favorite spot for adventurers for its beautiful wildflowers and dramatic cliffs. The park is also home to archaeological evidence dating back around 4, years ago. The six mile loop takes hikers through the heart of the preserve with plenty of vista views along the way.


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Mammoth Cave Park is worth exploring afterwards to see the largest cave system in the world. The site boasts more than miles of underground passageways. The longest trail in the state at 26 miles, Wild Azalea resides southwest of Alexandria. A favorite for experienced hikers, the trail traverses several creek crossings, best visited in the spring when you can see the azaleas for which it is named in full bloom.

Measuring in at 4. Appropriately short and steep, Billy Goat Trail provides beautiful views of the Potomac River and its falls. Featuring wildflowers and scenic river views, the trail measures 7.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

It was this hike that friends Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville used for inspiration. Besides following in literally footsteps, hikers can appreciate views of the Southern Berkshires, caves, and Housatonic River Valley. Part of a trail spanning seven states, the Michigan portion of the North Country Trail averages an incredible one waterfall per mile. Just north of Bessemer, the trail hits seven waterfalls before eventually meeting Lake Superior. The mile jaunt follows where the Black and Presque Isle Rivers run parallel. Between Duluth and the Ontario border, the Superior Hiking Trail is often ranked as one of the best in the country.

The mile footpath flows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior. There are trailhead starts and parking lots every 5 to 10 miles, making it easy to pick and choose which sections you want to explore. Today, it boasts several trails you can take that span just over 60 miles.

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Covering more than miles, the Ozark Trail winds through the Ozark Mountains in the southeastern portion of Missouri. The trail features forest covered hills, knobs, valleys, waterfalls and streams. It is often referred to as the Beaten Path due to the amount of crowds that descend in the summertime, eager for one of the most scenic trails in the Beartooths. With 22 miles of hiking trails, the park is one of the best in Nebraska if you want to see hardwood forests and views of Missouri.

With something for everyone, Mt. Part of the northern Sierra Nevada Range, the Mt. Rose Trail heads up the second highest mountain in the Lake Tahoe Basin, winding through woods of pine and hemlock. With an elevation change of 4, feet, the loop lends hikers a sweeping panorama of peaks at the top. Near Vernon, Stairway to Heaven Trail covers boardwalks, a suspension bridge and hardwood forests.

Offering one of the best viewpoints New Jersey, the trail includes a series of rock slab steps heading up Wawayanda Mountain. It serves as the steepest and fastest route to the ridge connecting the highest peak in the state. Hikers are not just treated to New Mexico landscapes but also Colorado views from the trail. Hikers can select from endless sections, including trails that run up to Niagara Falls or over to Canandaigua Lake. The highest point east of the Mississippi, Mt.

Mitchell ascends 6, feet. Mitchell Trail, measuring in at 6 miles. Covering miles, Maah Daah Hey Trail is ideal for hiking and biking. Running from Theodore Roosevelt National Park through the Little Missouri National Grasslands, the trail hits majestic plateaus, jagged peaks, valleys and rolling prairie. There are six points of access for hikes of varying lengths. Don't be fooled by the name though, as this is no walk in the park.