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You are hereHome › It's Always A Great Day to Take a Hike
It's Always A Great Day to Take a Hike
It's Always A Great Day to Take a Hike
It's the perfect time of year to get out of the house and into nature and its myriad benefits, including lowered blood pressure, reduced stress and improved immunity according to the January 2010 issue of Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. America’s national parks are as varied as the country itself, so no matter what your interests, you can find something for you in one of the 397 parks.
The National Parks Service offers these eight ideas for ways to enjoy the parks and promote your health:
- Take a hike. There are 18,600 miles of trails in national parks. Hit the trail for a short hike or a day-long expedition. Cross the Continental Divide on the High Line Trail in Glacier, go vertical on the Moro Rock Trail in Sequoia & Kings Canyon or tackle a section of the Appalachian Trail. If you’d like to hike with an expert, many parks offer daily ranger-led guided tours.
- Dive in. Enjoy 43,000 miles of national park shoreline. Walk on the beach, go for a swim, snorkel an underwater trail in the Virgin Islands or dive the aquamarine water and fish-bejeweled coral reefs of Biscayne or the kelp forests and sea caves of Channel Islands. Or, take a canoe or kayak ride through Big Cypress to observe manatees and birds.
- Go underground. Travel below the surface and discover the dazzling sights found along more than 900 miles of passageways in caves. Check out Mammoth Cave—the longest cave in the world—or the 14-acre Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns.
- Sleep under the stars. Experience the simple pleasure of an evening campfire, sleep in the great outdoors and wake up in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the world. Choose your setting—mountain view, ocean view, or even city view: The 12,000 campsites in national parks include spots in New York City and in Boston.
- Go for a ride. Some of the prettiest scenery you’ll ever see is along the 5,450 miles of paved road in national parks. In fact, 1,100 miles are designated parkways designed especially for sightseeing. Just be sure to get out of the car at overlooks or trailheads and stretch your legs. It’s amazing what you will find not far off the road. Wander to a waterfall at Shenandoah or meander through a meadow at Rocky Mountain.
- View wildlife. National parks are the best places to view wildlife in their natural habitats. Without getting too close, enjoy seeing everything from baby birds to two-ton bison in a park. Watch the strutting age grouse perform its annual courtship dance in Grand Teton or the spring migration of grey whales at Point Reyes. Or, encounter prehistoric wildlife such as a saber tooth cat at Badlands or a Stegosaurus at Dinosaur.
- Explore, learn, protect. Kids 5 to 12 years old are encouraged to take part in free Junior Ranger programs in almost every national park. Ask for a Junior Ranger booklet at the visitor center and earn a badge by completing different activities. Many parks will host special events on Junior Ranger Day, April 28.
- Take to two wheels. One of the most popular things to do in a park is ride a bike. You set your own pace and can easily stop to relax or take in the view when and where you want. One of the newest bike trails was recently built in New River Gorge. More than 1,400 Boy Scouts and leaders volunteered 78,544 hours to construct a 12.8-mile mountain bike trail. Other popular parks for biking include Acadia, which has 45 miles of old carriage roads; Canyonlands, home of the 103-mile White Rim Road loop; and the C&O Canal and its 184-mile long towpath.
Find a national park near you and take advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds us!