Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Overview

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular parks in the US National Park System, due to is close proximity to the city of Denver. It is a great representation of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem which can be found throughout much of Western Colorado. Getting to the park is very straightforward. The gateway to the park is the town of Estes Park, which is one of the first mountain towns you encounter. It is about a 90-minute drive from the Denver International Airport or from Downtown Denver.

Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the earliest national parks established President Woodrow Wilson in 1915.
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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, also known as the Black Canyon National Park, is a national park in Montrose, Colorado. It is managed by the US National Park Service since it was established as a national monument in 1933. It was later upgraded to national park status in 1999. The entire park spans a total land area of 30,750 acres. Meanwhile, it has an annual tourist visit of over 238,000 (as of 2016).

The area covered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park includes the deepest and most dramatic part of the canyon in the area. This canyon continues to travel upstream towards the Curecanti National Recreation Area until it merges into the Gunnison George National Conservation Area. The canyon is named after the fact that the depth of the canyon means that it only gets up to 33 minutes of sunlight per day. While there are many other canyons in the US that are known for their depth, this one is unique as it comes to the narrowness and darkness to its quality.
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Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Overview

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located in southern Nevada and western Arizona along the Colorado River and Lake Mead, which is the reservoir created along the Colorado River by the Hoover Dam. It also included the smaller Lake Mojave which is created by the Davis Dam. It was the first National Recreation Area to be created by an act of Congress in 1964. It is one of four National Park Service Sites in Nevada and one of twenty-two National Park Service Sites in Arizona.
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11 Amazing North American National Parks That Hardly Anyone Visits

The national parks of the United States and Canada are some of the greatest in the world. However, most of the attention is taken up by the superstar parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Banff. Each of these parks gets millions of visitors per year, and visiting during the peak season it’s like visiting an amusement park.

These popular parks are not the only parks, however. There are some amazing parks in North America which get only a fraction of the visitors of the popular parks. Often times these parks are hard to reach and are expensive to get to. Sometimes, they just aren’t on anyone’s radar because they haven’t become popular.

I have visited all 11 of the parks listed here as part of my quest to visit every national park in North America.
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Torngat Mountains, Labrador

Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador
Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

Torngat Mountains National Park is a little-visited park on the northernmost tip of Labrador, yet one of the most spectacular national parks in North America.

The park is jointly run by Parks Canada and the Nunatsiavut government. Almost all of the staff who work at the park are Inuit people who live in the region.

To start with, Torngat Mountains National Park isn’t easy to visit. To get there you either have two options: travel by plane from Goose Bay, Labrador, or travel by boat.

Traveling by boat would mean being a passenger on one of the ships which go to the Canadian Arctic or sailing your own vessel to the park.

Torngat Mountains National Park

The plane option lands at a small landing strip just outside the park, which was built during the cold war for a radar installation which was part of the Distant Early Warning Line. From there you can take a boat which will take you to the park base camp, which is your only real option for staying in the park.

Independent camping in the park is discouraged because of danger imposed by polar bears and black bears, but there are options available.

While in the park, there are excursions offered daily, either on foot or by boat.

Torngat Mountains National Park

Things to do while in Torangat Mountains include:

  • Visit the abandoned village of Hebron, a Canadian National Historic Site.
  • Hike along the hills around base camp.
  • Expereince Inuit culture, including drum dancing and throat singing.
  • Enjoy a shore lunch of freshly caught arctic char.
  • Explore the Sajlek Fjord.
  • Photograph polar bears and black bears
  • Visit Inuit archeology sites to learn about ancient Inuit culture.

Activities will be dependent on scheduling and weather.

Torngat Mountains National Park

All inclusive trips can be arranged through the Torngat Mountains Basecamp. Prices range start at CA$5,130 per person, on up.

Torngat Mountains National Park is derived from the word, Tongait, which is of Inuktit origin. This word literally translates to “place of spirits”. This speaks to the cultural tradition and history of the region, which is encompassed within the 9,700 square kilometers park. This vast area is home to polar bears, caribous, mountains, and glaciers. Both the natural formations and the wildlife that inhabit the park have existed for thousands of years.


View the complete list of North American National Parks I visited.

North American National Park #51: Fundy, New Brunswick

Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park is located on the Southeastern coast of New Brunswick and is located on the Bay of Fundy, for which it is named. The Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world, and in the park, you can actually walk on the ocean floor during low tide.

In addition to the sights along the coast, Fundy also has many amazing attractions in its interior as well. The photo above is of Dickson Falls, which is one of several waterfalls in the park. Inside the park, you will also find miles of hiking trails, a golf course, and a saltwater swimming pool. There is also a very photogenic covered bridge at Point Wolfe.

The environment is similar to what you might find in Northern Maine or in Acadia National Park in the United States. Heavily forested with a rugged coast. The landscape and environment are very different from Kouchibouguac National Park, which is 2 hours away in New Brunswick but is not on the Bay of Fundy. According to the data, Fundy gets more visitors than Kouchibouguac, but it doesn’t feel that way because the park is larger and it doesn’t have beaches.

The park is easily accessible by car from all the major cities in New Brunswick: Fredericton, St. John, and Moncton. Route 114 goes through the park and that is the highway you need to get on to visit.

Fundy National Park

If you are driving from Moncton, you will probably also want to stop at Hopewell Rocks, which is a provincial park about halfway between Fundy and Moncton. Hopewell actually gets far more tourists than Fundy, because it is at Hopewell where you can best see the dramatic change in the tides. In most places on the Bay of Fundy, the tide goes out a very long distance, but you can’t get a real sense of the height of the tides. At Hopewell, there are free standing rocks which give you a better sense of scale.

Camping is available in the park, including oTENTiks available for rent. These are permanent tents with wood floors which can be found in many Parks Canada locations. The nearest town is Alma, which is literally outside the northern border of the park on route 114. There are a few hotels in town which cater to park visitors.

Basic Information on Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park

Before your planned visit, here are a few things you need to know about Fundy National Park:

    • It is open all-year round. However, visitor services are only available from January to October.
    • As of 2018, youth admission to the park is free. The other fees are still the same.
    • The park was established in 1948 and is currently managed by Parks Canada.
    • Fundy National Park is visited by approximately 281,289 tourists (as of 2016).
    • Bear and moose crossing are very common occurrences within the park. Hence, tourists are advised about the especially at dusk or dawn.
    • For your safety, always stay along marked trails when hiking. Unmarked trails are not maintain and could therefore pose natural hazards.
    • All surface water are assumed unfit to drink. Hence, visitors are advised to refrain from doing so.
    • The most interesting feature about this park is the highest ebb and flow of water tides. The water level in the park could rise up to 12 meters twice in a day.

How to Get Here

Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park is located in Alma, New Brunswick in Canada. It is located along provincial Highway 14. To get here, you can drive via the Trans-Canada Highway 2 (for those coming from Fredericton), or via Highway 1 if you are coming from Saint John.

If you want to take the public transportation, there are no buses that offer routes directly to the park. You must travel to the nearest bus stations in Moncton and Sussex.


View my complete list of North American National Parks I visited.

North American National Park #50: Prince Edward Island National Park

North American National Park #50: Prince Edward Island National Park
North American National Park #50: Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Canada, at only 22 sq/km in size. It is located on the north shore of Prince Edward Island and is divided into 3 separate parts: Cavendish in the west, Brackley-Dalvay in the center, and Greenwich in the east.

The most popular segment of the park is the central part which pretty much a really long beach. I visited on a weekday in August and I couldn’t find a parking spot along this segment. It seemed like most of PEI had come out to enjoy the beach. Even though the air temperature was warm, the water temperature was still pretty cold, as the water was part of the northern Atlantic. Most people were on the beach and not out swimming.

The easternmost segment of the park, Greenwich, is very different. Here you will find more nature and fewer people. There are several trails which will let you see different coastal ecosystems in a very small area, including forests, salt marshes and sand dunes.

Prince Edward Island National Park

Visiting PEI National Park is very easy if you are on the island. It is approximately a 30 minute drive from the capital of Charlottetown and about a 2 hour drive from Moncton, NB, including the drive over the Confederation Bridge.

Camping is available at the park and there are a great many hotels on the island in easy driving distance.

What to See or Do: Prince Edward Island National Park

There are a host of activities and sights to enjoy in Prince Edward Island National Park. The two most popular attractions for the visitors are campgrounds (where you can spend the night in) and the national historic sites found within the park.

National Park Campgrounds

Prince Edward Island National Park

There are two main campgrounds available in Prince Edward Island National Park. The first one is the Cavendish campground. It is a fully serviced campground area that is literally within a few steps from the ocean in Cavendish. It is the ideal choice for those who enjoy camping. Another great option is the Stanhope Campground. It is a large and scenic campground that comes with semi-wooded sites.

National Historic Sites

Aside from camping in Prince Edward Island National Park, you may also enjoy a few national historic sites. Some of the most notable sites include the Port-la-Joye – Fort Amherst National Historic Site. This site enables you to walk through the rich history of settlement and conflict in the area in the struggle to gain control of North America. You can explore an extensive trail system and have a unique picnic experience when you go.

Another notable attraction is the Province House National Historic Site. This serves as the birthplace of the Confederation and was also the seat of the provincial legislature in Prince Edward Island. This is also the most significant historic landmark for the town of Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island.

Heritage Place

Finally, you can explore many heritage places in Prince Edward Island National Park including the Green Gables Heritage Place. You will have the chance to walk into the footsteps of Lucy Maud Montgomery and experience the world of Anne of Green Gables. You can explore the original farm house, farmyard, and gardens.


View the complete list of North American National Parks I visited.

North American National Park #49: Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick

North American National Park #49: Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick
North American National Park #49: Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick

Kouchibouguac National Park lies on the eastern shore of the province of New Brunswick. At 239 sq/km (92 sq/mi) the park is a mix of barrier islands, forest, salt marshes and beaches. It is much more of a recreational park than a nature reserve. I visited in August of 2015 and the park was very busy with what mostly seemed like visitors from New Brunswick, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

The park is easily accessible and is located 90 minutes from Moncton on Highway 11.

Camping is available in the park, but there are also hotels available in the nearby towns of Rexton and Miramichi. The park isn’t very big, especially when you compare it to the size of western parks. You can easily explore most of the park in a single day. There are hiking trails available through the park, but those too can be hiked in a day a do not require any serious backcountry hiking.

Kouchibouguac National Park

The image shown above were of two people who took some lawn chairs out on a sand spit at low tide.

Highlights of Kouchibouguac National Park

Kouchibouguac National Park is one of the places to go if you want to appreciate the natural beauty of New Brunswick in Canada. There are so many things to see and do during your time in this park. The highlights of your visit should include the following:

    • Check out the Acadian coast and woodland during winter. It is the perfect spot for exploring winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. You can also find crowd-free campsites so you can spot birds perched on one of many deciduous trees in the forest.
    • Experience a marine adventure and encounter some grey seals along the way. You can also re-trace history by following the historic footsteps of the early fur traders that explored this region centuries ago.
    • Go to Kellys Beach and enjoy amazing sea life while stumbling upon sand dune discoveries. There are shallow salt water lagoons you could wade through. It is the ideal summer time activity for the entire family.
    • Join a Wigwam gathering and enjoy a cultural experience of a lifetime.
  • Explore the gentle trails and bask in the unique maritime environment of Kouchibouguac National Park. There are over 60 kilometers of bicycle paths to explore.

Know Before You Go

Kouchibouguac National Park

Before you travel to Kouchibouguac National Park, you need to pay a $7.80 fee for adults and $6.80 for seniors. If traveling with the family or group, the fee is $19.60. The youth are free in this park.

There are also several facilities available throughout the Kouchibouguac National Park for visitors to enjoy. The available facilities include accessible services, gift shop, parking, playground, wi-fi, restaurants and cafes, picnic area, information center, restrooms, and more. The park is also open all year round; hence, you can plan your visit according to what type of adventure you wish to enjoy.


View the complete list of North American National Parks I visited.

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States, with only 60,000 visitors per year. This is primarily due to its remote location 70 miles west of Key West.

It is also the most aquatic of all the US national parks with 98% of the park consisting of water. The 2% of the park which is land is largely taken up by Fort Jefferson. A Civil War era fort which was originally designed to protect shipping lanes, it was used as a prison during and after the Civil War. It’s most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Dry Tortugas National Park can only be visited by ferry (2.5-hour trip) or seaplane. To visit the park, you first need to get to Key West, which is the end of the road in terms of how far you can drive down the Florida Keys.

To fly there, and get great views of Fort Jefferson from the air, contact Key West Seaplane Charters. The flights are approximately 35 minutes. To take the ferry, you will need to take the Yankee Freedom III and it is approximately a 2.5-hour trip.

Dry Tortugas National Park

In addition to the history of Fort Jefferson, the island also has some great beaches. Because so few people visit Dry Tortugas National Park, it is one of the cleanest, least crowded beaches you will find in the entire Florida Keys.

You can camp in Dry Tortugas, but you will need to bring in all your own food and water. Campsites are right next to the fort and beaches.

I really loved my visit to Dry Tortugas. I’d love to return and actually camp there for 1-2 nights. I think it would be one of the closest experiences you could have to stay on a remote island, without actually being shipwrecked.

What to See in Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is huge. There are plenty of sights and attractions worth seeing. You can add the following to the list of must-see attractions in the park:

Key West: Within Key West, there are two main attractions to check out: Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and Key West Bight Museum. At Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, you can explore a world showcasing the native plants and animals in the region.

Florida Keys: The Florida Keys incorporate the Key West along with several islands famous for snorkeling. This represents about 120 miles stretch of coastline during the southern tip of Florida state.

Dry Tortugas: This is a group of small islands to which the park is named after. It is popular for its lighthouse, fishing, sailing, and camping.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Garden Key Light: This lighthouse is found in the Historic Fort Jefferson. It is 65 feet tall and was built in 1826. It has been on active duty for more than a century.

Loggerhead Key: This is another must-see attraction in Dry Tortugas National Park. It is an uninhabited tropical island along the Gulf of Mexico. It is about 49 acres in land area.

Historic Fort Jefferson: It is an island fortress and prison in one that was built in 1847. It was built to patrol ship traffic. It also serves to protect the American coastline.


View the complete list of North American National Parks I visited.