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Enjoying National Parks

By David Russell

My favorite national park is Yosemite National Park. Breathtaking is a hackneyed phrase, but bursting into daylight after passing through the last tunnel on Highway 41 and seeing Yosemite Valley below draws audible gasps from first time visitors. Even novice photographers cannot botch a shot of the Half Dome knob along with the gray rocks of the walled valley and the flowing waterfalls.

The crowds in Yosemite can be crushing, 95 percent of the people who visit the park never get beyond the 5 percent of the park that encompasses the valley. What sets Yosemite apart from sites like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone though is its vertical aspect that make jostling through crowds tolerable. The eye is always drawn up and away from fellow travelers. The visitor numbers in autumn along with winter and spring are considerably less than in summer.

Only a handful are fond of the national park called Great Smoky Mountains. Getting out on the trails is probably the only way to really enjoy a visit to what is by far the most visited park. Every year over nine million visit the park whereas the Grand Canyon just draws half this number. I’ve been there three times and endured crowded packed roads and pretty but, for a lifelong Westerner, relatively unspectacular scenery. Tourists can get trapped by such attractions as casinos while in the entry town of Cherokee or Gatlinburg. Air quality has suffered in recent years. It perhaps has reached its limit having been the main allure of national parks.

Lots of people would love to pay the national park Wrangell Saint Elias a visit as well. Two parklands that are infrequently toured are Kobuk Valley and Gates of the Arctic but the total acreage for such sites is 55 million. The park service labels it as The Mountain Kingdom of North America and is the one place few tourists have seen as they only stay within Anchorage. It is an area where the majority of both mountains and glaciers stand at 16000 plus feet tall.

A lot of people would care to return to the Grand Canyon North Rim. When I was a kid, my father hated the crowds of the South Rim so we always made the long drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I’ve been back to the Grand Canyon many times, but when I am elbow to elbow with crowds, I wish for the relative solitude and almost equally spectacular views across the canyon.

The Everglades is a great spot to see grizzly bears of Kobuk Valley and the buffalo of Yellowstone. But my most memorable meeting with nature was the half dozen alligators sunning themselves on a mud flat along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades. These creatures can cause the faint hearted to run scared just by looking at its saw teeth and add to that its slow movement toward the water leaving just their eyes visible.

Some people considered Monument Valley as one of the national parks. Its red stone monoliths clearly represent the West. Arizona and Utah has an area forming a section of the Navajo Indian territory that a number of films has used as background. But the self governed status of the place prevents it from becoming a true national park. If it were, it would have been one of my favorites.

A lot of people do not see the point in giving Hot Springs the national park label. Arkansas has a place called Bathhouse Row that features old fashioned massages for visitors. The place will not pass for a national park although it can be designated an area of historical significance. The National Park Service created in 1916 saw the grandfathering of the area classified as federal land sinc e the 1830s years ahead of Yellowstone. Gaining club entry is easy the tough part is getting out.

Something delightful twice over lies within the Glacier Waterton International Peace Park.

Together they make up an international peace park. One of my favorite stops is the faux Tudor Prince of Wales Hotel on the Canadian side, with it’s oh so British Empire era tea hour.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Russell, David "Enjoying National Parks." Enjoying National Parks. 25 Jul. 2010. uberarticles.com. 27 Nov 2014 <http://uberarticles.com/travel-and-leisure/enjoying-national-parks/>.

APA Style Citation:
Russell, D (2010, July 25). Enjoying National Parks. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://uberarticles.com/travel-and-leisure/enjoying-national-parks/

Chicago Style Citation:
Russell, David "Enjoying National Parks" uberarticles.com. http://uberarticles.com/travel-and-leisure/enjoying-national-parks/

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