“Travel to our national parks allows visitors to not only honor moments of American history, but also reflect on the heritage we share that needs to be preserved for future generations,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan.
America’s 390 national parks offer a wide variety of activities, many of which are free. Discover the heritage of the Cherokee Indians in the Great Smoky Mountains, examine animal fossils dating back 40 million years at the new Paleontology Center at the John Day Fossil Beds, or follow the trail of Lewis & Clark in Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Here are ten national parks to consider for your travel plans this summer.
Governors Island Historic Harbor Park, New York
Travel to New York City to experience the first settlements of the Dutch West India Company in the 1600s. This summer, free ferry transportation will be offered on Fridays and Saturdays for visitors to tour the Historic District, picnic on Parade Grounds, and enjoy views of the Statue of Liberty. Programs range from educational lectures and interactive displays, to historic reenactments of Revolutionary and Civil War battles and encampments, lectures from noted historians and fiction authors, and family entertainment programs. For more information, visit www.govisland.com.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Discover the ancient mountains that portray the cultural heritage of the Cherokee Indians. The new exhibit will feature tours and stories that retell the traditions of the Cherokee Indians in both English and Cherokee languages. Visitors will explore the cultural and spiritual connections between the Cherokees and the Great Smoky Mountains. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/grsm.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia
Celebrate the centennial celebration of the Niagara Movement August 18-20 at the cornerstone of the modern African American civil rights movement in America. Harpers Ferry is the symbol of freedom and a model of progress in America’s struggle for equality. Weekend events will feature historic tours, musical performances, reenactments, and lectures, as well as an academic symposium and an introduction to the Niagara Movement Curriculum Guide. For more information, visit: www.harpersferryhistory.org.
Colonial National Historic Park, Virginia
Visit the birthplace of America and explore the new Archaearium, an exhibit that will display over half a million artifacts and findings of first English settlers in America. The exhibit will showcase the rediscovery of archaeology, the roots of democracy, and the history of people who once lived in historic Jamestown. For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/colo.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Discover the incredible fossils of plants and animals that are eroded within the volcanic deposits of the John Day River basin at the new Paleontology Center in eastern Oregon. Visitors will learn about the diverse fossil types of ancient and extinct mammals that date back millions of years. For more information, visit: johndayfossilbeds.areaparks.com.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Park, Oregon
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition by exploring the sites that Lewis and Clark once traveled. Historic sites offer a visitor center, museum store trails, picnicking, and ranger led stories that tell the hardships and dangers of their exploration and discovery. For more information, visit: www.lewisandclarktrail.com.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Celebrate Mesa Verde’s 100th Birthday with a celebration of festivals, lectures, and access to sites that have been closed to the public for decades. A four-day festival from June 29-July 2 will offer music, food, Indian dances, craft demonstrations, and other special events. The celebration will also offer lectures, demonstrations, horseback rides, and ranger-led hikes to other dwellings, including the Mug House, which has never been open to the public before, and Oak Tree House, which has been closed since the 1930s. For more information, visit: www.mesaverde2006.org.
San Juan Island National Historical Park, Washington
Experience living history of the Pig War with a reenactment of military and civilian life during the island’s early pioneer period. Visitors to the park can participate in activities such as blacksmithing, coopering, weaving, needlework and exhibitions of military equipment and skills. Learn about plant and animal life with ranger-led tours. The park offers a variety of special events and interpretive programs throughout the summer to suite everyone’s needs. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/sajh.
Sequoia National Park, California
A new bilingual visitors center is open this summer for visitors to discover and learn about the parks natural resources in both English and Spanish. A redesigned interactive Children’s Discovery Room will also provide interactive exhibits and ranger-led nature walks to educate visitors on the towering sequoia trees and other natural resources found in the park. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/seki.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Enjoy your stay this summer at the Old Faithful Inn, which reopens on June 26 after renovation. Discover more than 6 million objects on display at the new Canyon Visitors Center and the Heritage and Research Center. Historic artifacts include original Thomas Moran watercolor sketches, artifacts from prehistoric sites in the park, and weapons and uniforms from the park’s U.S. Army era. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/yell.
“Whether it’s a short weekend getaway or extended trip across country, new educational programs and thrilling exhibits in our national parks offer fun and adventure for travelers this summer,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan.
To plan your next park trip or find more information about traveling to national parks, visit www.npca.org/explore_the_parks.
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.