By Dana Perkiss
The National Park Services system protects a staggering 423 national monuments and lands in the United States, with 63 of those being designated as National Parks. They encompass about 84.6 million acres in the U.S., yet they often get overshadowed by vibrant cities like New York or San Francisco.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer the bustle of city life or if you’re a natural nature-lover, because National Parks are special for everybody. Here are 8 reasons you should visit more National Parks!
National Parks are the perfect destination for people of all ages, and their low costs make them especially more ideal. You could get a 7-day vehicle pass for the Grand Canyon National Park for just $35, or walk for just $20. If you’re traveling on a budget, National Parks are a prime destination, and you have your pick of 63! Plus, they often offer free admission on national holidays and other occasions.
2. Easily Accessible
Spanning over 27 states, it’s pretty easy to find a National Park to visit — or optimize to visit a state with multiple! California, Alaska, and Utah have the most (a total of 22 combined) so you could take advantage of your time in those states. Alternatively, you could take an adventurous road trip along the West Coast from Washington down to Arizona, or head East to Utah and Colorado. On the East coast, new River Gorge National Park has opened in West Virginia as the newest National Park.
3. Fun and Educational
National Parks provide the perfect combination of fun and education. As you explore through the parks, you’ll be able to spot plaques and other signs along the way with information about the area. Many visitor centers have a museum and/or tours with professional guides, so you can have a firsthand learning experience about the park’s conservation, history, and nature. It’s safe to say that visiting a National Park will be the best environmental lesson you’ve ever had.
4. Marvel at Nature’s Wonders
Going to a National Park is unlike any other park experience — you won’t just see some woods and creeks, but instead natural wonders that you probably never believed were in the U.S. Try to picture it: you can watch cascading waterfalls at Yosemite Falls, witness active volcanoes shooting lava at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, snorkel in the bright coral reefs of Biscayne National Park, and explore the largest cave system in the world at Mammoth Cave National Park. The U.S. is filled with spectacular natural wonders, and you’ll be stunned by the National Parks.
5. Choose your Season
Since National Parks span all over the U.S., you can choose your pick of which ecosystem you’d like to visit. Do you prefer the dry heat of the Grand Canyon, or want to brace the cold in Alaska? Whatever type of weather you prefer, there’s a good chance one of the 63 National Parks will offer that.
6. They Improve your Health
We could probably all use extra time away from our screens, and National Parks are the best technological escape. Step away from the hastle of everyday life and walk into something healthier where fresh air and greenery surround you. Spending time outside is good for your health as it helps boost your immune system, provides physical activity, and nature will surely improve your mood and creativity. Not to mention, in the world of COVID-19, parks are a safe public space where you can easily stay more than 6 feet apart from people.
It’s definitely tempting to take as many Instagram pictures as one can while visiting a National Park, but it’s worth putting your phone away for some time to appreciate nature.
7. National Parks are like Adult Playgrounds with ADVENTURES
Zip lining, rock climbing, scuba diving, oh my! Most, if not all, National Parks offer thrilling activities that’ll get your adrenaline racing. Whether you’d like to zip line over sand dunes, climb craggy cliffs, or dive with the fishes in the beautiful coral reefs, there’s an adventure awaiting everyone. You can even go horseback riding or cycling through the parks if that’s what you prefer. National Parks are basically an adventurous amusement park and interactive museum in one, so let yourself play.
8. They’re also Perfect for Relaxing
Just because National Parks offer adrenaline-inducing activities doesn’t mean you have to participate. They're just as perfect for casual strolls through nature or meditating in a serene spot. Plus, you can easily enjoy National Parks solo if you’re traveling alone, so you can truly relax in solitude.
National Parks are a true testament to the natural wonders and diverse ecological landscapes of the U.S., and their low-cost with easy access over 27 states make them the perfect getaway — especially during COVID-19. Yet, even before, National Parks were always incredible destinations beyond worthy of overshining any of the big cities.