Travel — 20 June 2012
National Parks Offer Affordable Summer Fun Close To Home

(StatePoint) You can make history, culture, natural beauty and scientific exploration a part of your life this summer by visiting a National Park near you.

The nation’s 397 national parks not only protect some of America’s most iconic treasures, but they also tell diverse stories and teach valuable lessons about our shared heritage. National Parks are fun and affordable tourist destinations for families, friends and even solo travelers looking for a healthy dose of exploration.

School may be out for summer, but the pursuit of knowledge should never take a break – and a national park is like a classroom, but way more fun. Here are some great ideas for how to learn at a national park near you:

• Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a trip to a battlefield.

• Visit the childhood home of a historical figure to learn about day-to-day living in a different era. Experience the log cabin in Kentucky where Abraham Lincoln was born, or marvel through Teddy Roosevelt’s childhood home in New York City.

• Connect with your past at a place that has special meaning to your family history.

• Discover an array of wildlife and plant life and truly appreciate the park’s biodiversity. On your visit, take a guided walk with a Park Ranger. Be sure to look up, look down and all around to make a game of spotting as many species as you can.

• Encourage your children to connect to the science, history and natural wonder of parks by becoming a Junior Ranger, or if you can’t make it to the park, explore the WebRanger program online.

• How’d that boulder get there? Discover the geology of canyons, mountains and other scenic landscapes. National park visitor centers can provide you with resources to help you understand the ground below you.

• Challenge yourself to an outdoor adventure like camping, biking or rafting. Pick up skills like pitching a tent and cooking outdoors.

• National parks face many challenges, from threats to wildlife, to the need for more funding. Learn about these concerns and what you can do to help locally and nationally.

“Our national parks are the soul of this country,” says Tom Kiernan, President of the National Parks Conservation Association. “These are special places that can inspire us and connect us to nature and our shared heritage.”

The National Park System was created with enjoyment in mind, so plan a trip that will be fun for you and your family. The good news is that you might not need to travel far; there may be one close to home. Plan your trip at www.nps.gov/findapark.

The National Park System, which covers over 83 million acres nationwide, preserves natural and historical sites, creates jobs, benefits local economies, and educates a diverse public. This summer, help protect its future by fostering the next generation of park-lovers.

For more information on how you can help protect our national parks, and plan your next vacation visit www.npca.org.

Photo By:  Varina and Jay Patel – 123rf.com

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