Top National Parks to Visit this Summer
After decades of daily recycled air and office décor, it’s no wonder you’re ready for the majesty of some wide-open spaces. The good news is that they don’t call it America the Beautiful for nothing! There are 58 national parks all over the country that are perfect retirement travel destinations. The even better news is national park passes for seniors. Purchase a $20 pass and have free access to any and every park for one year. Spend just $80 and the national park system is yours to explore for life.
Avoid the Crowds
According to the National Park Service, over half a million senior passes are sold annually. That sounds like a lot until you realize the parks receive some 300 million visitors a year. So, chances are you won’t be communing with Mother Nature alone. But retirees have the advantage of flexible schedules, which means you can plan your visits just outside peak seasons and spend your time experiencing the scenery instead of dodging the crowds. This will be especially critical when considering the big three, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon.
Inspired by unique thermal wonders like Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone became the nation’s first national park in 1872. Old Faithful is one of nearly 500 geysers in the park and one of six for which park rangers can currently predict activity. Yellowstone, which is mainly in Wyoming but also spreads into Montana and Idaho, also boasts nearly 300 species of birds and 67 species of mammals which freely roam the park.
To visit Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is to experience the site of millions of years of geologic history. Home to much of the actual Grand Canyon, the park features viewpoints like Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station and architect Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and Desert View Watchtower. With extensive views of the canyon and the Colorado River, Lipan is a perfect place for sunrise or sunset viewing.
With its giant, ancient sequoia trees, Bridal Veil Falls and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, along with its charming village with shops, restaurants and lodging, Yosemite National Park in California has it all. After your hike, visit the Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery featuring his famous black and white landscapes of the area.
It may not have the name recognition of Denali, but Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska is impressive in its own right. Situated at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula, it is the site of Harding Icefield, from which nearly 50 glaciers flow. The park is home to tens of thousands of breeding birds and a variety of other wildlife that thrives in the icy waters.
Covering 415 square miles, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado offers over 300 miles of hiking trails in a spectacular mountain environment. Drive Trail Ridge Road which crests at over 12,000 feet and includes magnificent scenic overlooks.
You don’t need camping gear to visit the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. Immerse yourself in our nation’s history as you tour classics like the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument and the newer Martin Luther King Jr. and World War II National Memorials.
With your senior national park pass, the breathtaking splendor of America’s national park system is yours for the touring. Retirement travel doesn’t get any better than this!