Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question

User fees are becoming more and more prevalent on public lands used for recreation. Are they worth it? Occasional contributor Lee Dalton, retired from a National Park Service career, muses on that matter after visiting Timpanogos Cave National Monument in central Utah.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec has nothing to do with the Aztecs of Mexico and Central America. But it does have everything to do with Ancestral Puebloans. It may be one of many places people from Chaco moved to when Chaco was abandoned. Occupation here began in about the late 1000's and flourished until around 1130. By the late 1200's, this settlement was abandoned as so many others had been. As is the case elsewhere, no one knows why.

Essential Summer Guide '14: Mix History And Wilderness At Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cast across more than 36,000 acres, Cumberland Island National Seashore is, as its name implies, on an island, the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Make the ferry boat crossing from St. Marys and you’ll discover history of those long ago enslaved here, blueblood manses, about 18 miles of waveswept beaches, and nearly 9,000 acres of official Wilderness.

150 Years Of Preservation: Yosemite And The Constitutionality Of National Parks

With the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant here, we should accept that Yosemite, not Yellowstone, was the birthplace of the national park idea.

Cape Hatteras, Where The 'National Seashore' Concept Was Born

Sun, salt spray, and sand are the main ingredients for a traditional Outer Banks vacation. Here on the North Carolina coast, where barrier islands bare the brunt of the Atlantic Ocean, families have been coming for decades to enjoy not only those aspects of summer but some of the best fishing along the Atlantic coast.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Island In The Sky At Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers into three distinct districts. Needles, Island in the Sky, and the Maze. There are no roads connecting them because the rivers and some very deep ditches are in the way. Island in the Sky is about a two-hour drive north of the Needles. The Maze is another matter. It can be reached only via a very long and circuitous route.

Biological Diversity, Refreshing Lake Michigan Waters, And Great Beaches Await At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore shares Lake Michigan with Sleeping Bear Dunes, which is 275 miles to the north. Indiana Dunes is a quilted landscape of sorts, interspersed as it is with industrial sites and a state park. Yet this lakeshore provides an escape to the beach and offers a cultural window into the past.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From The Needles District In Canyonlands National Park

It’s hot here. Welcome to the beginning of summer in the Southwest. Two days ago it was raining and near freezing and I was complaining about it at Mesa Verde and now it’s sweat time. But those rains have turned the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park into a veritable flower garden. Everywhere I look there are blooms.

Wilderness, Legends, And A Refreshing Escape From Summer's Heat Can Be Found At Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Bears, water, and sand are the main themes that run through this lakeshore that hugs the main arm of Lake Michigan; bears that drew life in Anishinaabek legend, water that flows both rhythmically and tempestuously, and the sand that towers over the landscape.

The Strange Case Of The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

The following is the second of a two-part article on the significance of religious symbolism at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana, symbolism that the National Park Service has largely overlooked. The author, Richard Sellars, was a historian for the National Park Service for three decades.

Traveler's View: National Parks Are Boring, Outside Magazine? Really???

Did you hear the news? National parks, those wondrous and scenic expanses of Nature's eye candy, those wild and rumpled landscapes that test your skills and will kill you if you're not careful and prepared, or maybe just in the wrong place at the wrong time, are boring. They've been transformed -- or, perhaps, kept since their creation -- as "drive-through museums."

Abraham Lincoln: God And Man In Indiana, The Strange Case Of The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Why has the National Park Service largely overlooked the religious symbolism at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial?

Exploring Mount Rainier National Park's Trails

The three kids—my 12-year-old son, Nate, and 10-year-old daughter, Alex, plus my 15-year-old nephew, Marco—are slightly less than enthusiastic about our plan to hike the Skyline Trail Loop above Paradise, on the south side of Mount Rainier National Park. My 76-year-old mom, Joanne, normally an eager hiker, shuffles along this morning, still recovering from a long, hard hike up Mount St. Helens two days ago.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is an old friend. I’ve been here many times. But I still have lots more to see. It’s one of those places where you could spend a lifetime and still miss some of it.

What To Do In The National Parks This Summer? Take A Hike!

Summer can pose a difficult problem for national park travelers: Where do you go and what should you do? Traveler’s Facebook audience had some great ideas for family hikes in the parks, and we’re happy to share them with you.

Cape Cod National Seashore : Clambakes, Whales, And Beach Time

Summer vacations at the Cape have long been an American tradition, dating back well before the national seashore was authorized in 1961. So popular is the seashore, in fact, that the vacation season has stretched out, going well beyond Labor Day and creeping into October. And why not? Waters, whether you’re talking about the Cape’s freshwater kettle ponds, Cape Cod Bay, or the Atlantic, remain relatively warm through September.

Ruby's Inn: Western Hospitality On The Doorstep Of Bryce Canyon National Park

It sounds counterintuitive to head to the Utah desert this summer to cool off. But Utah is an enigma: it is desert, canyons, and high mountains in one trip. You find groves of Ponderosa pines and wildflower meadows in abundance in Bryce Canyon National Park. The days are warm, the nights are chilly. The view of the desert is astounding, and at night visibility is measured in light-years.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Chaco Culture National Historical Park

It’s a long, rough and dusty road from anywhere to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. But, boy, is it worth the trip! The fact that it’s such a rough trip may have a lot to do with determining the kind of people who come to visit this place carved out of the high desert of northwestern New Mexico. Unlike visitors to so many other parks, these folks have a certain quality about them that hit me right off the bat.

Exploring The Parks: Floating Nebraska’s Niobrara National Scenic River

The Niobrara River flows eastward 535 miles from the high plains of Wyoming to its confluence with the Missouri River in northeastern Nebraska. Over its course the river cuts through nearly the entire width of northern Nebraska, much of which is in the state’s scenic Sandhills region. Unlike most rivers that are fed by rainwater runoff, nearly three-quarters of the Niobrara’s flow is the result of groundwater from the vast Ogallala Aquifer.

Sea Turtles, History, And Solitude At Canaveral National Seashore

Though Florida is one of the most populated states in the country, there still are places where you can flee humanity in the Sunshine State. Canaveral National Seashore, just north of the Kennedy Space Center, is one of them. Here on the Atlantic Coast the seashore’s beaches draw surfers, swimmers, surfcasters...and turtles...lots of turtles.