America’s National Parks are filled with natural treasures that deserve appreciation.
United States currently has a total of 59 National Parks, each very unique and magnificent, offering its own special gifts to visitors from all over the world.
National Parks are found in almost every corner of the United States.
They offer camping, hiking, education and awe-inspiring vistas, and when it comes to family vacations, few destinations can compete with these parks.
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National Parks Offer Many Popular Travel Destinations
National Parks around the U.S. are revered for their unparalleled beauty and unique wildlife, making them popular destinations for families, adventure travelers, bucket listers and more.
Unfortunately, tourism to these natural environments often leaves them clogged with trash and marred in other, more permanent ways, as well.
For instance, many disrespectful tourists carve their names in trees or boulders.
Even tourists who strive to avoid such flagrantly bad behavior have lasting negative effects on the parks.
Crowds of visitors can introduce stress to the environment, disturbing animal breeding cycles and altering natural behaviors.
Additionally, travelers’ clothing or food can bring in non-native species, which compete with local wildlife and upset the ecosystem.
The best way to see a natural park without degrading it is to visit on shoulder or off-seasons, when the park isn’t experiencing an overwhelming flood of tourists.
You should also be respectful of the rules of the park, such as staying on designated walking paths or refraining from feeding any wildlife.
For a bigger positive impact, you can enlist in any volunteer program dedicated to cleaning up and conserving the national parks.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to dedicate your trip to voluntourism, you can merely pick up any waste products you find as you explore the park.
National Parks in the USA and one Honorable Mention
Read on to discover a handful of the National Parks that should be at the top of your bucket list.
Rocky Mountain National Park
This park boasts over 400 square miles of gorgeous scenery that includes 17 mountains that rise above 13,000 feet.
Hundreds of miles of trails allow visitors to spot mule deer and the park’s signature bighorn sheep.
Rocky Mountain National Park
You’ll find this park in northern Colorado with most people driving from Estes Park and taking the majestic Trail Ridge Road.
The Emerald Lake Trail is a highlight as is the Alpine Visitor Center which describes life at this extreme elevation.
Zion National Park
One of Utah’s best loved attractions, Zion provides diverse landscapes ranging from desert to mountains with plenty of spectacular rock formations.
This is a wonderful destination for canyoneering, kayaking or rock climbing. Hiking is also popular.
Zion National Park
Try the Archeology Trail from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to see where prehistoric buildings once stood.
There are nine different formations in this park, some of the most popular being Angel’s Landing and The Narrows.
Crater Lake National Park
This breathtaking spot in Oregon is best visited during the summer when the roads are open.
A dormant volcano with a deep blue lake in its caldera is the main attraction.
Crater Lake National Park
People come here to hike, camp and fish, often while staying the historic lodge or camping in one of the campgrounds.
Many visitors can’t resist hiking down the Cleetwood Trail to get close to the lake’s shore. Others choose a leisurely boat tour.
Winter activities include snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Yellowstone National Park
Perhaps America’s best known park, Yellowstone was also the country’s first National Park.
Most of its 3,500 square miles are located in Wyoming, with small bits of the park extending into Idaho and Montana.
The park is famed for its geysers and other geothermal features.
It’s easy to take a look at Old Faithful, which sits just outside two of the park’s most notable lodges.
There are beautiful hikes in the area too.
The Mammoth Hot Springs are another must see thanks to their spectacular travertine formations.
Denali National Park
Located in Alaska, Denali is America’s most remote park – a magnificent place for wildlife viewing.
Its untamed wilderness is unique in the park system since access by humans is limited.
Only one road goes through the park, and it’s closed to all traffic except for approved tour buses.
The result is an unspoiled landscape where the wildlife lives just as it has for many centuries.
One of the best experiences to be had is simply getting off the bus to stroll through the tundra.
It’s an adventure that would be difficult to replicate anywhere else.
Visitors might also climb Mt. McKinley or raft the Nenana River.
Are any of these National Parks on your travel bucket list?
Have to give an honorable mention to Gulf Island National Seashore.
Gulf Island National Seashore
includes mainland areas and multiple islands located along the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Visitors enjoy the white sandy beaches, many recreational opportunities, boating, camping, great cuisine, fishing and of course awesome golf packages.
Along with many nature preserves and historic sites present great affordable family vacations.
Things To Do In Washington DC
Traveling can be an expensive hobby, not only because of the accommodation or flight ticket, but all those small extra costs such as admission fees and tickets to attractions that you never planned before your trip really add up over time.
A great way to explore a city and make the most of your time while still keeping to your budget is to visit the free attractions and things to do instead.
While in many cities this can be almost impossible to find, travelers planning to do some sightseeing and attractions in Washington DC are spoiled for choice.
Here are just a handful of hundreds of free things to do in Washington DC…
National Mall & Memorial Parks
Of all things to do in Washington, the most famous is by far a tour of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Most monuments and attractions are free, and there are numerous interesting museums, monuments and historic sites to see.
Some of the top sights include the Capitol Building (tours run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – free of charge), the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, National WWII Memorial and FDR Memorial.
A good tip is to visit in the evening as it won’t be as crowded then, and most monuments are open until midnight.
Watch Free Concerts
Washington has plenty of free performances year-round, from theater plays to music events and puppet shows.
The Kennedy center’s Millennium stage has free performances every evening at 6 pm, from Jazz musicians to classical music to dance groups.
Every Monday the National Theater features local actors, comedians, musicians, singers, and dancers in free performances.
During summer this program switches and instead they show free movies on a large cinema screen.
Summer is a great time for free events and performances; the National Zoo also host musical performances every Thursday evening, Capitol Riverfront holds a variety of free concerts every Friday and you can enjoy free music shows at the Washington harbor on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
These are just a few of many free concerts and events held in the city, for more free concerts and events check out the city’s official event page.
Relax in Rock Creek Park
A great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy capital is to escape to the urban Rock Creek Park.
There are many activities possible in the park, from an 18-hole public golf course to hiking trails, kayaking, biking or visiting the National Zoo (which is also free).
Bring a pic nic and spend a few hours relaxing in the green park and gardens of the 1754 acre park.
Visit National Zoo
The National Zoo is one of the most child-friendly attractions in the city, and it’s free, making it a popular place for families.
Among its 400 something different species of animals, they have some unique ones like the endangered New Zealand Kiwi bird and a giant octopus.
Take in Washington DC Views
While the Washington Monument surely offers some spectacular views, the long lines might not be worth your time.
Instead, climb the 315 foot-tall Old Post Office tower which provides equally beautiful (free) views over the city.
Other Popular Free Things To Do in Washington:
US Botanical Gardens
Tour The White House (you must make a request through a member of Congress)
Library of Congress
Walk along the C&O Canal Towpath
Visit the Pentagon
National Gallery of Art
Free festivals such as the Kite Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival.
What would you recommend for someone looking for free things to do in Washington DC?
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