Hello again, travelers. Your friends here at Gildshire have had a lot of travel on our minds of late and enjoy nothing more than sharing our thoughts with you. For one thing, the coronavirus won’t last forever. Second, there are places to go even now. So unleash your best speaking voice to your GPS (I find I have to lower mine and sound commanding to “navigate!”), and get ready to go places you have not gone before. These are the National Parks in the USA that you should visit. Why these, you ask? Because these are National Parks that will be less crowded and easier to see while remaining socially-distanced. Sure we want to travel, but we don’t want our little bugs to inhabit someone else’s body and kill them dead. So have your mask at the ready, and hit the road.
How many National Parks are there in the USA?
There are 62 National Parks in the USA.
What?? How come I only know…3?
Because you have only been to three of the most popular ones. We are guessing you know about Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. It will probably surprise you to know that a couple of National Parks are more popular than those. In fact, the top-ranked National Park, by 2019 attendance, is Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee. Second is the Grand Canyon, and the third is Rocky Mountain. All of those N.P.s are great in their own way, but today, we are all about lesser-known but no less spectacular places. National Parks that are less-seen and safer to visit during COVID-19. Let us get started because we want to tell you about some National Parks in the USA that you may not know.
Is Redwood National Park worth visiting?
Good question, because you may be thinking that you have been to Yosemite, so you have seen big trees. The Sequoias in Yosemite are impressive, to be sure. But, the Coast redwoods live in groves that span hundreds of square miles. Redwood N.P. (pictured above) is an International Biosphere Reserve. It protects a majority of the old-growth redwoods on Earth, including champion specimens more than 370 feet in height. In other words, five stories taller than the Statue of Liberty, and here during the time of Jesus! At Redwood National Park, you can walk, bike, camp, or horseback ride along 200 miles of trails. Redwood N.P.’s forests, rivers, and coastline support a cauldron of life. Roosevelt Elk, seals, whales, and seasonal wildflowers such as rhododendron and lupine. The sprawling park system is also a scenic drive that you will never forget and want to do again and again.
What Makes Lassen National Park Famous?
First, a little bit about Lassen’s primary feature. A plug lava dome is a small steep cone of cooled lava that forms when viscous lavas are extruded out of the planet interior. Think of it like a scab over a wound on the surface of the Earth. Lassen Peak is the largest such volcano in the world. It is also the southernmost of the 13-volcano Cascade Range. (Mount Meager in British Columbia is the northernmost.) Established as a National Park in 1916, Lassen is home to lovely meadows sprinkled with wildflowers and clear mountain lakes. These contrast with the bubbles, steams, and roars that emanate from the many smaller volcanoes in the park.
Our favorite spot in Lassen is actually a trailhead called Warner Valley. The 4.2-mile round-trip Devils Kitchen Trail meanders across marshes and meadows before arriving at its destination. It is actually Mt. Lassen National Park’s second-largest geothermal area. Here you will see fumaroles, mud pots, and streams of steam. Side routes off the main trail lead to blue alpine lakes. Just to drive through the park is maybe a couple of hours at the 35 mph limit, but how much fun is that? Plan for a couple of days and do some hiking, looking, and being amazed at what God wrought.
That’s enough National Parks in the USA for now. Allow these to settle into your travel plans. In Part Two, we will talk about Voyageurs, Badlands, and North Cascades National Parks. We can’t wait! Talk soon.