This year is a great year for visiting National Parks. Kids (and parents) are tired of being home and what better way to get rid of the pent-up energy. Families can view awe inspiring scenery, enjoy the fresh air, have quality bonding time, and get some exercise all at once. Whether your family is a frequent National Park visitor or a first time visitor there is always something new to discover. Keep reading for the 7 best kept secrets at the National Parks.
Yellowstone National Park
Anyone who is planning a trip to Yellowstone has heard of Old Faithful and probably has the famous geyser on their must see list if they have not yet seen it. However, Old Faithful can be quite busy and the crowds can take away from the awe inspiring event. For a more natural setting head to the Shoshone Geyser Basin. The basin is an 8.5 mile moderate hike so consider staying overnight to explore all that it has to offer. There is the second largest lake in Yellowstone as well as numerous hot springs and geysers that erupt at regular schedules. If the 8.5 mile hike is too long, consider the Lone Star Geyser Basin that is only a 2 mile hike. This geyser erupts approximately every three hours so plan accordingly.
Acadia National Park
Most people who visit Acadia National Park visit the part of the park on Mount Desert Island. However, part of Acadia National Park is on the Schoodic Peninsula. While it might take some extra driving to reach this peninsula the scenery is well worth it. There are numerous hiking trails with views of the crashing ocean waves as well as many interesting rock formations. For even more exploration visit Little Moose Island during low tide. Make sure to be aware of the tides or you will be stranded on the island until the next low tide!
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park in itself is a well kept secret. Located in western Texas, most people have never heard of it. However, it is one of the best places to view the desert flora and fauna as well as take magnificent hikes. Guadalupe Mountain National Park is a bird lovers paradise. There are many different kinds of birds to see throughout the park. This park is best explored by camping overnight. Many of the animals come out only at night or early in dawn so in order to see these elusive animals visitors must stay over. Another benefit of camping in the park? Star gazing. Guadalupe Mountains National Park has one of the best clear skies for star gazing.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is well known for hiking, climbing, backpacking and camping. However, many people don’t know that petroglyphs can be found in Zion National Park. The trail can be found off of State Route 9. There is no sign or parking lot so you have to be looking for the trail. The less than 1 mile walk has over 150 petroglyphs. Remember to not touch any of the rocks so the petroglyphs can be preserved.
Shenandoah National Park
When most people think of Shenandoah National Park, they think of driving Skyline Drive, hiking and scenic waterfalls. However, Shenandoah National Park also has caves below the Earth’s surface. The Luray Caverns have many interesting and unique geologic features. Dream Lake in the cavern is a shallow lake that reflects the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The Double Column is a stalagmite and a stalactite coming together to make a 47 feet tall structure. Another unique feature is the Great Stalacpipe Organ. It makes noise by striking stalactites in the cave!
Glacier National Park
Most people will drive Going-to- the-Sun Road and many will visit Logan Pass. However, there are many quieter areas of the park that most visitors never make it to. The Cobalt Lake Trail in the Two Medicine Area is a beautiful hike that has varied scenery and ends at the Cobalt Lake. The 11 mile round trip hike is not for beginners because there is a 11,500 foot elevation climb however, there are no difficult sections so it is family friendly for older kids. The awe inspiring views and low crowds make this trail a perfect one for people looking for peace and quiet.
Sequoia National Park
Seeing the towering sequoia trees surrounding you is a unique experience that can be found in very few places in the world. However, what if you could see a 360-degree panoramic view of the area. The little known Little Baldy Trail is a 3-hour hike that takes you through a mixed conifer forest to the top of a granite dome that has spectacular all around views.