I have always been fascinated by our national parks. According to Wikipedia, the United States has 59 national parks. Yellowstone, the oldest, was signed by law into existence by President Ulysses Grant in 1872.
The beauty of national parks is that they are incredibly diverse and each offer completely different natural settings. If you go to Bryce Canyon in Utah, for example, you will be astounded by the “sandstone hoodoos” that look man-made, even though they were actually formed by nature throughout millions of years.
And if you go to Yellowstone, the hot springs are so colorful that if you see a picture of it, you would think that it is digitally enhanced.
Throughout the years, I have visited some of the national parks and each time, the magnificence of their scenery takes my breath away. Since these parks are also natural preserves for wild animals, if you are lucky, you might be able to observe them in their natural habitat. This past month, I went to Shenandoah National Park which is located in Virginia. It is about a six to seven hour drive from New York City but it is worthwhile, as it is a beautiful trip all the way to the park.
Hiking is one of the many activities for the park visitors. As part of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, I met hikers who had come all the way from Georgia heading towards Maine where the trail ends. It is over 2100 miles long and apparently only 150 hikers finish the whole trail each year. This, I read on an Appalachian Trail sign in the park!
On the trails, in addition to hikers, I also saw deer, snakes and several black bears. On two occasions, I encountered a bear family: a female bear and her two cubs in the middle of the trail. So I decided to retrace my steps and get out of their way. Another time, I stopped for the bear to cross the path (there was no going back for me) and get to the other side of the woods, while I was standing there with shaky legs from this chance meeting. Though a bit unnerving, the experience of seeing these wild animals so up close will remain with me forever.
While there are obviously tons of websites on National Parks that you can check online, here is a selection of books and ebooks that Touro Libraries offer on this topic:
And finally here are some apps for National Parks introduced by The New York Times that you can download and take with you on the road. Have a great trip!
- National Parks by National Geographic : iPhone & iPad
- Chimani National Parks: iPhone & Android
- Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder: iPhone, iPad & Android
Contributed by Sara Tabaei, Midtown