Sometimes you have a million things planned when you get to a park, and then a tropical storm hits right in the middle of your visit, and all that’s left is a serene paddling and snorkeling trip through the mangroves, meeting jellyfish along historic keys.
Big thanks to Biscayne National Park Institute for taking me out on a blustery day and helping me fall in love with the incredible history of Biscayne National Park.
Alligators, lilypads, mahogany hammocks, and wonderful boardwalk trails through dense swamps teeming with bird life. That’s the wonder of Everglades National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States. It packs in twice as many visitors as the runner-up, the Grand Canyon.
While I was expecting it to be crowded, I wasn’t expecting it to be so rugged! With over 800 miles of trails winding through the park’s boundaries, including 71 of the Appalachian Trail, I learned that it is possible to escape the throngs if you’re willing to wake up early and hike big miles.
Highlights include: Clingman’s Dome, Charlies Bunion, and Alum Cave.
Mammoth Cave National Park is such a strange hidden gem in the middle of rural Kentucky! First brought to prominence as a saltpeter mine to make ammunition during the War of 1812, the cave has been a tourist destination for 200 years, far longer than more famous parks like Yellowstone.
Unlike many other famous caves in the parks system, Mammoth Cave is not home to much flow stone or stalactites. Instead, it gets its immense size and shape from a huge, underwater river that once flowed through these walls.
For more photos of the park, head to my Instagram: @brazenbackpacker
Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia, has a complicated past. Once known as the breadbasket of the south during the Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley was the site of three major campaigns. The park is now confronting its racist history, launching research projects and interpretive installations about its segregated past.
It is also a mecca for hikers and autumn leaf peepers, with 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail running the length of the park.
I know we’re all doomscrolling today, but please accept this peaceful fall foliage in Acadia National Park as a breath of fresh air on an otherwise nail-bitingly stressful day.
Hands down, one of the highlights of Acadia National Park was hiking the adventurous Precipice Trail, though the term “trail” is used loosely. Your mission here, should you choose to accept it, will involve hundreds of feet of scrambling on steep, rocky cliffs and exposed metal rung sections. Not for the faint of heart!
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