Planning a Vacation? How About a Place Less Frequented?

Guest blogger Tina Perantonakis likes to check out lesser-known national parks – and some of them are free!

Growing up as a native Washingtonian, my knowledge of our national parks was limited to the sites in and surrounding the National Mall, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. As I started traveling more throughout the United States, I had the opportunity to visit some of the most popular national parks, including Yellowstone, Redwood, and Golden Gate, but I gained the most pleasure in discovering and exploring those that are lesser known. Most recently, I visited Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.  Mesa Verde houses arguably the most impressive cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people. 
 
To commemorate National Park Week, which is April 16-24, 2011, I am highlighting a book published by the National Park Service: The National Parks: Index 2009-2011. This book has become indispensable in my travel planning, as it contains listings of National Park System areas by state, in addition to National Heritage Areas, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and the National Trails System. Although the Index is not intended to be a guidebook, nor does it contain standard guidebook information such as visiting hours, trails, and campground locations, it does provide the administrative addresses and brief descriptions of the sites – and these descriptions often include interesting facts.  Did you know that there is a national park in American Samoa devoted to protecting tropical rainforests, coral reefs, and fruit bats?  I certainly did not – until I read the entry in the National Parks Index.

This year, the National Park Service will be offering several fee-free days at more than 100 parks that usually charge an entrance fee.  I plan to take advantage of the fee-free days by visiting several Civil War historical sites, including Antietam National Battlefield  in Maryland and Appomattox Court House National Historical Park inVirginia.

For more information on National Parks Week, visit here. To take advantage of the National Park Service free entrance days, visit here.  To purchase a copy of The National Parks: Index 2009-2011, visit here.  You can also find it in a library.

6 Responses to Planning a Vacation? How About a Place Less Frequented?

  1. Jennie Vertrees says:

    I am an octagenarian, who lived through the Great Depression and WW II, but I’ve been in all 50 states and hsve seen so many of our National Parks and National Monuments. I enjoy the National Monuments as well. I also go to see State Parks too. All are so diverse and each one has its own individuality as well as its own beauty and history. Many of these sites have been battlefields in one war or another in our United States and I always learn something new to me in every site I visit. I visited points of interest in other nations, but there is never anyone available to answer my questions or explain what I’m seeing.

  2. zannias vasilis says:

    I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN THE U.S.A. AS RESULT I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN ANY NATIONAL PARK OVER THERE.I ADMIRE THE ORGANIZATION SYSTEM ABOUT THESE PARKS!!!SO MANY INFORMATIONS ABOUT THEM , VISITING HOURS , TRAILS , CAMPGROUND!!!UNFORTUNATELY , IN GREECE THERE ARE NOT NATIONAL PARKS!WE HAVE ONLY HISTORICAL MOUNTAIN…WITHOUT PROTECTION!!!100 PARKS WITH ENTRANCE FEE!EVERY COUNTRY NEEDS POLICY LIKE THIS!!!
    CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN!!!

  3. Gloria jJ. Mckee says:

    The Army Corp.of Engineers Parks are addition to all of our out standing State, National, and Federal Parks. A Beautiful, scenic addition to the Historic History of the National Fish and Wild Life Reserves of the United States Park system. Please check out these Parks. Open to the Public.

  4. ibrahim khan says:

    very informative and interesting piece.

  5. Annette says:

    A terrific idea. Some of our best vacations have been camping and touring the National Parks. It will be great to learn about some of the ones we didn’t know about.

  6. Lee says:

    Great idea — The National Park Service is one of the great government entities in our Nation. Thanks for the info

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