The Top Six Ways to Discover New Places in the National Park System

Hikers explore the geological wonders of Joshua Tree National Park--one of the many vacation spots in the park system where learning and exploring is a fun adventure.

Hikers explore the geological wonders of Joshua Tree National Park--one of the many vacation spots in the park system where learning and exploring is a fun adventure. Photo © Ian Shive.

The summer may be half over, but you can still enjoy history, culture, natural beauty, and scientific exploration at our national parks this vacation season. 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.

Here are six fun and affordable ways to discover new places in the National Park System, and learn something interesting while you’re there–since a national park is like a classroom, but way more fun.

  1. Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a trip to a battlefield. History buffs will appreciate seeing some of the major battle sites like Manassas and Gettysburg up close, though it’s also worth exploring some of the more remote and lesser-known sites, such as Pea Ridge.
  2. Visit the childhood home of a historical figure to learn about day-to-day living in a different era. Experience a replica of the log cabin in Kentucky where Abraham Lincoln was born, or marvel through Teddy Roosevelt’s childhood home in New York City. Be sure to ask at the visitor center if the park will offer any demonstrations or interpretive history presentations during your visit.
  3. Connect with your past at a place that has special meaning to your family history, like this journalist did with several generations of his family.
  4. Take part in a “BioBlitz” and discover an array of wildlife and plant life while helping the park inventory its biodiversity. Two BioBlitz events are scheduled this summer at Acadia and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Can’t make it? Take a guided walk with a Park Ranger somewhere more convenient, taking note of as many different species as you can.
  5. Encourage your children to connect to the science, history, and natural wonder of parks by becoming a Junior Ranger. If the kids can’t make it to the park, explore the WebRanger program online.
  6. Learn about 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—both with books and ranger-led walking tours.

The National Park System 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.

The good news is that you might not need to travel far; there may be one close to home. Plan your trip at

Ready to take the next step? If you love the parks, you can help NPCA protect them. Sign up for our news and alerts at!


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About the Author

Brittany Sampson is former media relations intern at NPCA

  • Linda

    thanks you

    • http://Care2 Kat Karnes

      Many thanks for this article~~good info.

  • aurora

    Very interesting and really important.

  • CarmenElisa

    Thank you for all the various tips on how to further enjoy the national parks.

  • Barbara Erdman

    Thanx for all the wonderful tips,I use to go camping in Upper, MI and also Canada :-)

  • Kat Lentz

    Our national parks are a treasure and should be protected against all things harmful while still being open to the public to enjoy. No drilling, no hunting, no new roads. Just nature at it’s best for man and animals to enjoy.

    • Carol

      You are so right but man has to stop killing off all these innocent animals just want to enjoy life but as long as man keeps on killing them parks will be in trouble.


  • Carol

    When we were younger and could afford to travel we would go to those beautiful parks and loved every minute all of us have a right to enjoy them but what is scarey in my book so many people want to take away our rights and sadly that is a fact.

  • Mary

    Hiked the Olympic National forest. breathtaking.

  • http://Care2 Laurie

    Thank you for this post. What would make things go full circle, is when ALL animals will be left to live their lives entirely in peace at all of these parks. This is what’s needed along with “Animal Rights.” Thanks!!

  • Pakalani

    We seem to take two steps forward and one step back when it comes to protecting our national parks and wild habitat, but at least we’re trying. It’s too bad that we’re not attempting the same things as far as the indigenous Native American population of the United States is concerned. They face bigotry, inferior services and unrepentant attitudes on the part of the American government. They face lower life expectancy, high birth death rates and are still looked upon as disposable by our society. We can never make things right until we admit to stealing this land and all the so-called state and national parks we claim as our own.

  • http://facebook ann

    Thank you for posting this great article.

  • http://Mycare2 Diane Krikorian

    Thanks for the info.

  • Sheila G

    Thanks for the tips

  • Jeroen de Vries


  • Jackie Baruch

    The national parks are very important for clean air and water. Love all of them.

  • Debbie

    I love the National Parks, thank you!

  • David Begin

    God gave us the stewardship of our lives and of this earth and of all living things on it.
    What a huge responsibility and means to praise God for the Beauty of his creation.

  • http://care2causes naomi cohen


  • http://Care2 Diane Berings

    Thanks for posting this

  • Lisa Zarafonetis


  • Regina D.

    Thanks for the suggestions. Good article.

  • Lauren Kozen

    Thank you for the great article. Very interesting & good to know.

  • Donna Buker

    I am a member,too. Thanks for telling everybody out there what is happening.

  • Larry D. Grazier

    great to know!!

  • Evelyn Wadsworth

    Wonderful information !

  • http://care2causes naomi cohen

    good article.

  • http://Care2 Diane Berings

    thanks for the information

  • Helena Bruce

    Thanks for the info

  • http://care2 Julia R.

    The national parks are the best vacation in the U.S. for a family! How fortunate we are to be able to enjoy these “next to heaven” on earth places to cultivate a love of nature in our children, always there to rejuvenate our minds and nourish our spirits, and inspire respect for nature and its awesome beauty!

  • Susanne R.

    National parks are a national treasure, and we should treat them as such! They achieved their status because previous generations appreciated their beauty and the wealth of wildlife they harbored and knew they should be preserved for future generations. They should be visited, respected, supported and enjoyed!