If you have visiting a national park on your travel bucket list, this a good time to plan that dream vacation ahead of the summer rush. And if you’re a veteran park visitor, you know there’s always more to see.
Here’s some of what’s coming up for 2022.
The National Park Service offers free entrance days during the year, including April 16, the first day of National Park Week. Other days in 2022 are: Aug. 4, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act; Sept. 24, National Public Lands Day; and Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
Several parks and monuments are celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2022, making this a festive time to visit. No matter which park you choose, you’ll find lots of choices for outdoor activities, from hiking and bicycling to horseback riding and rafting. And of course, you’ll enjoy spectacular scenery.
Yellowstone, covering portions of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, is America’s first national park, receiving that designation 150 years ago. Visitors come from all over the world to experience the park’s unique natural features, like the geyser Old Faithful, so reliable that park rangers can predict its next eruption. Many Native American tribes have connections to the land and they will be at the park throughout the summer as part of the 150th anniversary celebration, to talk to visitors about their culture and heritage. Tours of Yellowstone will allow you to spot the abundant wildlife, including elk and bison, from a safe distance.
Lehman Caves, located within Great Basin National Park, was dedicated in 1922 as Nevada’s first national monument. It’s the state’s largest and most dazzling underground cave system, with an intricate ecosystem that’s home to species found nowhere else on Earth. Special events for the centennial include a rededication ceremony on Aug. 6 and tours that will let you explore the caves the way early visitors did — lighted only by lanterns. In September, Great Basin hosts an astronomy festival, with talks by experts, photography workshops and incredible opportunities for stargazing.
Everglades National Park, on the southern tip of Florida, turns 75 years old this year. It’s the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and provides a habitat for numerous rare and endangered species, such as manatees, crocodiles and the Florida panther. Ranger-led programs are offered year round, including daytime and evening nature walks that will introduce you to the park’s plant and animal life. A rededication ceremony is planned for December.
Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. After taking a ferry from the mainland, you’ll be surrounded by pristine forests, marshes, uninterrupted beaches and miles of hiking trails. A Lands and Legacies tour will take you to historic sites around the island, including the Plum Orchard Mansion and the First African Baptist Church. Don’t miss the ruins of the 19th century Dungeness Mansion. It’s one of the park’s most picturesque spots.
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