By- Angela Padrón
Every summer, students are faced with the same question—what is there to do? Well, how about visiting the national parks of the United States? The National Park Service is a governmental agency that was created to preserve and maintain our country’s national parks so visitors can enjoy unique scenery, go camping, or learn about nature. Although all our national parks are filled with beauty and awe-inspiring sights, each one is unique in its own way. Here is a list of some of the top parks to visit:
#1- Grand Canyon National Park – Located in the deserts of Arizona just north of the city of Phoenix, the Grand Canyon is about 10 miles wide, 275 miles long, and a mile deep. It was formed by the Colorado River cutting through the reddish rocks over many thousands of years. It is best to visit this park in the summer, for the winters can be quite cold. But no matter when you have time to go, the magnificent size of this natural wonder will be inspiring and breathtaking.
#2-Yellowstone National Park-
This amazing 3,500 square mile park is located in Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho. There visitors can see canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and Old Faithful, the most famous of the park’s gushing geysers. Many different animals can be seen at the park, including bears, wolves, bison, elk, and antelope.
#3- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Located in a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains known as the Great Smoky Mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most popular of all of the U.S. national parks. An average of nine million visitors go to this park annually. Even with that many people, though, the park will never feel crowded. With over 520,000 acres of woods, it is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. Visitors can see over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants, lush forests, streams, rivers, and waterfalls as they hike or ride bikes along parts of the Appalachian Trail.
#4- Sequoia National Park – This park is located in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Visitors will be in awe of its huge sequoia trees, especially the General Sherman Tree, which is the tallest tree in the forest. In addition, there is an underground cave where people can see streams and various rock formations.
#5- Shenandoah National Park – Also along the Blue Ridge Mountains sits Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The park mostly has forests, but also wetlands, waterfalls, and rocky peaks. Many species of birds, as well as deer, squirrels, and black bear can be seen at this park.
#6- Mammoth Cave National Park – Who would have thought that a place called Mammoth Cave would be located in Kentucky? This park houses a cave system of chambers and subterranean passageways to walk through. Visitors can also see rivers and sinkholes!
#7- Acadia National Park –
Matt Flanagan, of Winthrop, MA, shares a photo of sunrise at Boulder Beach on Feb 24. “There is no better place than Acadia for a sunrise. The sound of the waves crashing as you wait for the sun to come up is as peaceful as it gets.” (Photo courtesy of Matt Flanagan @mflanaganphotography Used with permission.) More @ http://go.nps.gov/YourAcadiaNPS
This Atlantic coastal park consists of 47,000 acres along Mount Desert Island in Maine. There are woodlands, rocky beaches, and granite peaks, including Cadillac Mountain, which is the highest point on the east coast of the U.S. Just look out for large animals, such as moose, bear, and whales!
#8- Zion National Park – This park is located in the southwest part of Utah. Zion Canyon has steep red cliffs, and there are forest trails along the Virgin River that lead to the Emerald Pools with its waterfalls and a hanging garden.
#9- Kenai Fjords National Park – Established in 1980, this park covers about 670,000 acres of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Visitors here can see glaciers as they hike along the Harding Icefield Trail, take a boat, or go kayaking.
#10- Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – At the northern tip of Wisconsin, visitors can visit this park on Lake Superior. Here, people can see cliffs and sea caves along the Lakeshore Trail or visit the beaches and marinas on some of the park’s twenty-one islands. You may also encounter bald eagles, falcons, and black bears. Be sure to look for a few nineteenth-century lighthouses and the Lucerne shipwreck.
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