So, did Part One of our National Park series get your travel juices flowing? It certainly got Gildshire ready to pack our bags. And so we shall, just as soon as the COVID-19 stops raging. It will, you know. A little more time and a couple of more months’ worth of subscriptions to Netflix, and we will all be on our way. First, though, we need to tell you about three more parks. Under the radar? Perhaps, but with features all their own. So tuck in, my friends, and let us tell you more about some National Parks in the USA should visit.
What makes Badlands National Park famous?
Did you ever watch a space launch and think, “I would like to go to the moon.” Maybe that will never happen for any number of reasons. It has been since 1972 since there has been a moon launch with people on board. You don’t feel like going back to school. You’re afraid of heights. Whatever your particular reasons, there is a place on this planet that can make you feel like you are an Apollo astronaut. Badlands National Park (pictured above) is that place, and it is incredible.
You will want to enter from the north, near Wall, South Dakota. Immediately upon entering, you will be on the Badlands Loop Rd. On this road, you will pass many viewpoints and trailheads on your way to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Take some time during the day to figure out where else you want to go, but head outside with your camera just before nightfall. The world’s most amazing sunsets happen at the place the Lakotas call “mako sica” or “land bad.”
The Badlands aren’t just moonscape terrain. They are home to a varied ecoculture (including a fragrant juniper forest). You will find Bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, more prairie dogs than you thought existed, and a place where the earth turns yellow. Enjoy it all! Because it should not be overlooked as one of the National Parks in the USA that you should visit.
What is so special about Voyageurs National Park?
Way up north in the forests of Minnesota, find a National Park that both borders Canada and is one-third water! It is on the water that you can begin your adventure. Rent a houseboat (aka, an RV for the water) and find this beautiful place the way early explorers found it.
Are there rock lovers among you? Voyageurs is one of the few National Parks in the United States that contain rocks nearly three billion years old. Thes exposed rocks are older than those found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The Boreal Forest here makes it fertile ground for wildlife. Black bears, moose, lynx, grey wolves, deer, fox, beavers, ravens, eagles, and loons all call this place home. In fact, beaver lodges are everywhere inside Voyageurs. They are fun to watch as they swim in front of your boat. They will come to you, as curious about you as you are about them.
If you are planning to stay the night inside the park, the choice will be easy. There is only one hotel in the whole 218,055 acres (remember, most of it is water) of National Park. The charming white-and-red-trimmed building that is the Kettle Falls Hotel has a screened-in wraparound porch and is hosted with both pride and joyfulness. These are people who embrace hospitality as a way of life.
Your first day at the hotel should end outside because this part of the world is known for its dark night sky. The lack of light gives way to visible stars, planets, and meteor showers. If you are lucky, you may see the Aurora Borealis (aka, the Northern Lights).
If you have never considered a vacation afloat this is that time. Become a voyageur, and remember it for as long as you live.
Is North Cascades National Park worth visiting?
Gildshire finds everywhere worth visiting, so you already knew our answer. But, why would you skip the part of the country known as the American Alps? Indeed, while embraced by North Cascades National Park, you will believe the jagged peaks go on forever.
Before you go to some parks, one might wonder if there is camping available. North Cascades answers before you ask. What kind of camping do you have in mind? Car camping, group camping, boat camping, wilderness camping, and bicycle camping. All available and all in abundance at North Cascades N.P.
There are a few waterways in the world that are described as “turquoise,” but none deserve the description like Diablo Lake deserves it. This lake gets its stunning color from the glaciers that formed all of the mountains in this region. Finding Diablo Lake is easy. Just drive east on Hwy. 20 from the North Cascades Visitor Center.
The Sterling Munro Trail is a short walk with a big payoff. At the end of the 300-foot trek, the sky will open up to a stunning view of The Pickets. Jagged peaks that press against the vast expanse before you. Some have called this mountain range “haunting.” Looking at The Pickets as the sun rises behind them makes Gildshire agree. For a different but equally beautiful perspective, come back to the same view as the sun sets behind you.
Gildshire does not usually recommend particular towns within the boundaries of National Parks, but we’ll make an exception for Stehekin, Washington. It is a small (year-round population 71) town situated on the sparkling shores of Lake Chelan. It boasts brilliant hiking trails, a tour of nearby waterfalls, and one of America’s finest pastry shops. Stehekin qualifies as a place to appreciate more because it is so far from anything else. Access to Stehekin is only available via water or sky. Two different ferry companies provide service from Chelan (Lake Chelan Boat Company) or Fields Point (Stehekin Ferry).
While it is fun to read about National Parks in the USA that you should visit, it is far more fun to plan your visit. Use this as a guidepost to one, or more, of the National Parks. Then start your planning process! Good luck, and enjoy!