The National Parks Like You’ve Never Experienced Them Before

Veteran travelers of national parks may think they’ve done it all, but not so fast: There are 417 sites managed by the National Park Service, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy each of them. Non-profit friends groups and NPS officials compilde a short list of National Park activities and spots that are a bit off the beaten path, and just plain cool.

Lookout Point Trail at Wind Cave National Park – Most people who go to Wind Cave don’t go beyond the national park’s namesake, but there’s plenty of exploring to do above ground. Lookout Point Trail offers views of the prairies in the Black Hills. If you’re looking go farther than the roughly two-mile hike, you can add on the more demanding trails Centennial and Highland Creek.

Kayaking to Sea Caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Check out the sea caves at Apostle Islands from right on the water. Kayak to Devils Island, Swallow Point on the eastern part of Sand Island and the western part of the mainland. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you leave Lake Superior’s shore.

Joshua Trees in Mojave National Preserve – The largest concentration of Joshua trees isn’t in Joshua Tree National Park. Instead, it’s close by in Mojave National Preserve. Drive to the Teutonia Peak Trailhead on Cima Road. On the trail, you’ll gain 700 feet in elevation and hike for 3.4 miles through the Joshua trees. At the peak, look out and see the Cima Dome, a granite rock that towers several hundred feet over the desert floor.

And here’s the best news. On August 25, 2017 all national parks will be free in celebration of the National Park Service’s 101st birthday. Waiting are you waiting for? Get on out there.

Here are more off the beaten path national park destinations…


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