Grab the family, pack your hiking-friendly shoes, and take a road trip to one of our breathtaking national parks! Summer time is a perfect time to visit them. Here are 7 national parks you should visit this summer.
The National Mall is America’s most visited national park. Each year, millions of people visit the National Mall and Memorial Parks. The National Mall is America’s front yard, featuring the Washington Monument, WWII, and Lincoln Memorials. It is home to ten of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution offering a variety of exhibits ranging from art to space exploration. Other major attractions include the national monuments and memorials, the U.S. Capitol Building, the National Gallery of Art and the U.S. Botanic Garden.
There’s always something to see and do, as the Mall plays host to events of all sizes almost every week.
Situated near the town of Seward, this park is on the stunning Kenai Peninsula. It was established in 1980 and it is a popular destination for cruise ship travelers making port in the nearby town. The park’s proximity to the coast ensures that the views are breathtaking and an abundance of wildlife, including bears, seals, bald eagles and humpback and orca whales. Evidence of the Ice Age can be seen everywhere. In the summer, long daylight hours and mild temperatures in the 50s and 60s are ideal conditions to try the park’s many adventurous activities like kayaking, hiking, and stand-up paddle boarding.
Channel Islands National Park is made up of five remarkable islands and their ocean environment. Although it lies just off the coast of Santa Barbara, this five-island archipelago is one of California’s least visited national parks. Often called the Galápagos of North America, the Channel Islands are teeming with wildlife, including nearly 400 bird species and hundreds of thousands of seals and sea lions. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was. A short ferry island will help you escape from the traffic and overly crowded city of Los Angeles to a beautiful national park where you’ll find quiet beaches. Visitors can also snorkel or dive amongst the kelp forests, kayak through sea caves, and hike mountains to scan the horizon for migrating whales.
The real treasure of Carlsbad Caverns National Park lies deep underground. Hidden underneath the cactus, grass, and thorny shrubs of the Chihuahuan Desert are more than 118 caves left behind from ancient sea ledges. The primary attraction is the show cave, Carlsbad Cavern. It includes a large cave chamber, called the Big Room. This natural limestone chamber is the third largest chamber in North America and the seventh largest in the world. Limestone formations riddle all of the 118 known caves, and likely began growing during the last ice age. You’re free to tour the caves on your own or you can take a ranger-lead tour. Between May and October, you can check out nightly bat feedings when the natural inhabitants of the caves leave to feed.
The wilderness of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks protects one of America’s most superlative scenic landscapes. Magnificent glacial canyons, broad lake basins, lush meadows, and sheer granite peaks form the core of the largest expanse of contiguous wilderness in California. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are home to huge mountains, deep caves, black bears, and groves of giant sequoia and are visited and valued by people from around the world.
There’s always plenty to do, like camping, horseback riding, skiing, rock climbing, and cave tours.
Attracting some 27,000 visitors per year, North Cascades National Park ranks as the sixth least-visited national park—but hey, that’s part of its charm. We love it for what it’s not: It’s not easy to get to, it’s not all that busy, and it’s not a simple park. The North Cascades is one of the most biologically diverse parks in the U.S. This forested area is an impressive place for the avid hiker. The Pacific Crest Trail, stretching from Mexico to Canada, passes through the area. With almost 400 miles of trail total from easy hikes to huge leg-burners, the North Cascades is a great place to visit.
Keep in mind though, the higher elevated areas are known to remain snow-covered well into the summer, so check with the local ranger station for conditions before heading out.
Why not take in the awesome beauty of Mount Rainier this summer? A lifetime of discovery awaits. Mount Rainier is the centerpiece of its own national park. It rises 14, 410 feet above sea level and stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. Mount Rainier is still an active volcano and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Luckily it hasn’t erupted in the past 100 years. Wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. The renowned wildflowers—glacier lilies, bear grass—bloom for a very limited season that generally peaks in mid-July and August. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems.
Summertime is a wonderful time in our nation’s parks. These are my suggestions for 7 national parks you should visit this summer.