The big national parks are popular for a reason, but here are 10 other national parks and forests you may not have visited, and some fun activities to do while you are there. Consider one of these off-the-beaten-path parks for your summer round-trip:
Acadia National Park is a beautiful piece of the Maine coastline. Bring your alarm clock so you can wake early and hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain just before dawn. From this spot, you’ll be the first person to see the sun rise over the US!
The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire has some of the most rugged hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Mount Washington is located here and has the highest recorded winds on the planet. Take the train to the top and check out the buildings that are literally chained down so they don’t blow away!
While the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park, few travelers leave their car. Take a few days to hike the Appalachian Trail here. It bisects the park and delineates Tennessee from North Carolina. See if you can count the 100 tree varieties found in the region.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, has the tallest sand dunes in the nation (Star Dune is over 750 feet). Bring your old skis or snowboard and spend a day sand-boarding!
The Bridger-Teton National Forest, in Wyoming, includes the Wind River Range. Don’t forget your fishing pole or your backpack. The high alpine lakes are home to world-class trout fishing and humans rarely venture to these parts.
In southwest New Mexico, the Gila National Forest encompasses the Gila Wilderness. The Gila was the first place to receive a Wilderness designation and for good reason. The hiking is epic and varies from high alpine forest to deep desert canyons. Be respectful, but look for the abandoned cave dwellings that you can still explore!
Dinosaur National Monument is in both Colorado and Utah. This area is famous for the hundreds of dinosaur skeletons excavated here. Raft the Green River on the “Gates of Ladore” stretch. It takes you through the confluence of the Yampa and Green Rivers and into the monument. The white water is exciting and the views are spectacular.
Arches National Park, located in southern Utah, boasts the greatest concentration of natural arches in the world. Bring your running shoes to do a short trail run in Devils Garden.
Also located in southern Utah, Bryce National Park is a chimneyed deep canyon. Travel via burro to the bottom of the canyon for a unique experience you are sure to remember!
Redwood National Park, located in northern California, has the tallest trees on the planet. Either bring your bike or a convertible because you will want to look up to this humbling experience.
This summer take a road trip and explore some National Parks and Forests. It is a great way to stretch your legs and see something new in the U.S.
Travis Crooke is a Seed.com writer.