Earth Day is April 22 this year. This date conveniently falls within National Park Week: admission to all parks is free. There may not be a better way to celebrate Earth Day in a travel budget-friendly, environmentally appropriate manner than to visit a US National Park.
The western half of the United States really has an embarrassment of riches in terms of US National Parks. The US National Park System, of course, owes its existence to John Muir, who famously took Theodore Roosevelt on a somewhat intrepid, history-altering trip to what would later be Yosemite National Park. Other western US National Parks include the Grand Canyon (probably the most famous US National Park), Yellowstone, and one of my favorites, Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. But every state in the union, except Delaware, has at least one US National Park. Now that it’s spring, the snow is melting and the days are getting warmer and longer; for many of us, it’s the best time to visit a US National Park.
The US National Park System celebrates National Park Week and Earth Day with a focus, this year, on “Healthy Parks, Healthy People.” Lots of the national parks (and national monuments) are promoting the sorts of healthy outdoor activities that are easy to enjoy in national parkland; family travel favorites like hiking and biking encourage family togetherness and fun. From the East Coast to the West Coast, national parks are joining the celebration of Earth Day and National Parks Week with special programs unique to their locales.
One East Coast national park event that caught my eye is in Maine. Acadia National Park is celebrating “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” with park ranger-led geology walks, bird walks, and a walk on Otter Point. There are also a couple of children’s programs during the week; discussions about Earth Day and the environmental movement’s importance for national parkland will be age-appropriate.
All the way across the United States, Yosemite National Park in California is really going all-out celebrating Earth Day, with three days’ worth of fantastic events.These include child-friendly sing-alongs at the Yosemite Lodge Amphitheater, photo walks — Ansel Adams did much of his most famous photography at Yosemite — and an Earth Day Village Celebration.
Alaskans take pride in their huge, beautiful Denali National Park & Preserve, and for good reason. Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska also has hikes, highlighting Mount McKinley (North America’s highest mountain). Park rangers are happy to lead tours of the park here as well. Park rangers are some of the nicest, most sincere people I’ve ever met.
Not far enough west for you? Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a little bit more west than Denali, and of course — warmer. It’s not as budget-friendly, obviously, as a family trip to your closest national park (unless you live on the Big Island)…but a travel experience on Hawaii’s Big Island isn’t complete without a visit to Volcanoes National Park.
Spring is in the air almost everywhere in North America. On Earth Day and during National Parks Week, come appreciate the natural bounty available to all of us due to the amazing preservation of our country in its natural state, at a US National Park.
Every month a group of expert, independent travel bloggers converge on a single topic for the Travel Blog Mob. See what some other mobsters made of our “Spring is here” topic.
Wandering Educators : Spring is Here!
Ciao Bambino: Green Travel with Kids
Nerds Eye View: It Might as Well Be Spring
Boots ‘n All: Spring Ahead on Planning Your Summer Trips
Spot Cool Stuff: Go Skiing, But Not on Snow
Traveling with MJ: Spring Break Travel Questions from Kids