Thanks largely to the foresight and dedication of geologists, activists, planners, the general public, and U.S. presidents, the United States National Parks are a treasured part of our national heritage. The Parks are extremely well-managed and make a visit comfortable or difficult, depending on whether you wish to drive or hike to a summit. There are currently 63 national parks in the United States.
The first U.S. national park, Yellowstone National Park, was founded when President Ulysses S. Grant signed The Yellowstone Act on March 1, 1872. Although Yosemite preceded Yellowstone as a park when it was established in 1864, the former was considered to be a “state” park at that time.
Listed in alphabetical order, the following is a brief account of my 10 best-loved National Parks, followed by 10 Tips for Visiting U.S. National Parks.
10 Tips for Visiting U.S. National Parks:
Based on their respective locations, the U.S. national parks offer a wide range of activities for the visitor. The following are some tips to help you plan your visit:
- Decide when you plan to visit a national park. I prefer a quieter experience at the parks, which is why I visit during early fall or spring.
- Plan how much time you wish to spend at a park. Some national parks are huge! For example, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. Research to build an itinerary and plan activities. Remember to share your itinerary with family members or friends.
- Most national parks have camping and/or lodging facilities. Some have glamping facilities at a distance. For example, near Lake Powell in Southern Utah. Make your reservations well in advance.
- Entrance fee to national parks can add up. Therefore, I recommend purchasing the U.S. Park Pass if you plan to visit a few during a period of 12 months. In addition to the national parks, the Park Pass provides access “to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country.” There are also Free Entrance Days at participating national parks.
- Stop by the visitor center at a national park. They have plenty of information to share. There are short films that run every half-hour or so. I recommend viewing these films because they provide valuable information about the park—how the efforts began, what it has to offer, etc.
- National parks have free programs and activities. Some of these are for children only while others are open to all ages.
- Chat with a Park Ranger. They are a source of excellent information regarding the park.
- Bring a daypack and carry an extra bottle of water. Please don’t leave traces of your visit.
- Maintain distance from and be respectful of the park’s animals.
- Explore travel ideas on the National Park Foundation website. The National Park Service website is also a good source of information. Get the National Park Service app. It’s free. Download the information you want before you visit a park and you won’t have to worry about phone signal.
California is quite different from any other state I have visited in the continental U.S. There is diversity in all aspects: topography, language, food, ethnicity.
From my point of view, here is an outline of what you can cover in a week in two major cities—San Francisco and Los Angeles. Consult a guidebook for details. Look up reliable sources online.
A ride from the airport to the city will be expensive, between $45-$75, depending on location and traffic delays. You might want to look into a rideshare option.
Take a conducted tour because it’s an easy way to get to know a city. You can then decide where you would like to spend more time within the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
If it weren’t for the harsh winters and chilly springs, Maine would be my favorite state in the U.S. I highly recommend a drive to explore coastal Maine, especially the DownEast Acadia region. There are several good facilities for hiking, sailing, and recreation.
There are several guidebooks to choose from for your trip to Maine, and the state’s information centers are great places to browse a wealth of brochures. My favorite information center is located in Yarmouth, a 15-minute drive on I-295 N from Portland. There are travel counselors to help you plan your Maine visit.
“I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.”
Standing along a coastline of Maine, I am reminded of 7th grade in northeast India where I first read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Arrow And The Song. Little did I know then that several years later I would be walking through the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, Maine. It’s sublime when life makes such interconnections.
Located in the northeast of USA, Maine is known for its coastlines, heavily forested interiors, moose, blueberries, lobsters, and more. You can fly into Portland to explore the city or state, or fly into Bangor if you wish to use the city as your base while you explore the different regions. You can also fly into Boston and drive up to Maine. Be warned that road traffic can be slow during the months of May through August.
During my travels in Maine, I found people to be genuine and generous.
There isn’t another city quite like New York City.
New York City [NYC] consists of five boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Over 60 million tourists visit NYC annually.
Discover neighborhoods, enjoy a show, satisfy your food cravings, visit a museum, and much more. Given the wide range of activities and attractions in NYC, it might seem overwhelming at first. The following tips will help you plan your visit.
The way to Taos from Santa Fe is the High Road, a scenic route through the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
The High Road to Taos provides a much deeper sense of history of the region. The valley seems like a series of plush oases. Small, traditional Hispanic villages surrounded by orchards and meadows make the drive worthwhile.
Not far from Santa Fe, the remains of pueblos, cliff dwellings, and volcanic eruptions stand as meaningful reminders of the passage of time.
New Mexico’s natural beauty captivates me.
The Pecos Valley has been continuously unfolding a story of human culture for over 10,000 years. The Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of this country, as well as evidence of a human presence that dates back to over 11,000 years. Ancestral pueblos were established around the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument during the 14th and 15th centuries.
All of these reminds us of the passage of time with an opportunity to reflect on where we came from and where we might be headed.
Kudos to U.S. National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management for their work in preserving these treasures for now and generations to come.
We often wander through the landmarks of a town or city without going off the beaten path. Sometimes it is the limited time on hand or access to the location; other times it is the lack of knowledge of that unusual landmark.
A culmination of points of interest converge at the Covered Bridge at Sugar Creek in Glenarm, Illinois. It’s a short drive south from Springfield, off of Interstate 55, on to the historical Route 66, and into the heartland of USA.
A city on rolling hills with parks, fountains, museums, jazz, and more, Kansas City is a jewel in the Midwest.
In Kansas City, there’s something for everyone, coupled with an array of free activities including the KC Streetcar. Bike KC is a network of on-street bicycle facilities.
Renowned for its rich jazz and blues legacy, Kansas City offers several nightclubs that feature jazz on a regular basis. For a sports fan, Kansas City offers the best of baseball, football, and soccer.
Dickson Mounds Museum is an on-site archaeological museum located on the grounds of Dickson Mounds State Park. The purpose of the Museum, which is a branch of the Illinois State Museum, is to document the journey of American Indians in the Illinois River Valley.
I did not see a “No Photography” sign, therefore I took a few pictures at the Museum. These pictures of exhibits and artifacts are a glimpse at the history and culture that resides within the Museum.