The sunset at the Schoodic Peninsula Shoreline at Acadia National Park. (National Park Service)
Tallulah Gorge boating, one of the many activities available at the park. (Tallulah Gorge State Park)
Park visitors on top of the Tallulah Gorge Overlook, which can be accessed by suspension bridge. (Tallulah Gorge State Park)
The traditional mangroves, perched on the shoreline of the Everglades National Park. (Rodney Cammouf, National Park Service)
The Great Egret, a staple at the Everglades National Park. (Rodney Cammouf, National Park Service)
Thinking about taking a road tip this summer? Why not check out some out the nation's national park.
There are countless places to see in our great parks--all varieties, all sizes. Many will be awesome, some a surprise, some shocking, some beautiful beyond your wildest expectations.
Regardless, they will leave an indelible picture in your thoughts and probably enhance your perspectives forever. Admittedly, many cannot be adequately described and then too, so much is in the eyes of the beholder.
Yes, they are each totally different except for a few adjective that apply to each:
While some of the more popular parks, like Yellowstone, the Grand canyon and Yosemite, will be pack with summer travelers, you may want to consider some of the lesser-visited, yet-still amazing parks. Awesome, beautiful, magnificent, inspiring: Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia, Everglades National Park in Florida, and Acadia National Park in Maine.
FYI: there are nominal entrance fees at all national parks. Remember: “For those 62+ years young the Golden Age Pass $10.00 is good for a lifetime and at all National Parks. There is a lot of data available on National Parks. So do your homework. It will be well worth it.
TALLULAH GORGE STATE PARK, Georgia:
Awesome and beautiful, Tallulah Gorge will not disappoint. Interstates will take you to US 441, which will take you to the State Park, located in Clarkesville, GA.
Once called the Niagara Falls of the South, this spectacular canyon is two miles long and close to 1,000 feet deep. A swaying suspension bridge is 80 feet above the rocks and water and if that “walk” is appealing then the views promise to be beautifully extreme and breathtaking as well as a tummy tenser. Karl Wallenda walked across on a suspended wire in 1970. You can still see the towers that anchored the wire and you can obtain postcards documenting the feat.
For the less adventurist [and to me, more sensible] one can hike one of the rough trails along the gorge’s rim. Mountain bikes are available for those that want to experience the demanding 10 miles trail. The Interpretive Center, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a must and will allow one to understand and appreciate all that Tallulah Gorge has to offer. There is also swimming, fishing, kayaking and more, so be sure to check with the State Park officials by calling 706-754-7981. The comprehensive gift shop offers snacks, gifts, walking sticks, clothing and more. There are campsites, picnic shelters, and more. There is a $5 parking fee.
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Florida:
The largest subtropical wilderness in the USA, Everglades National Park, is but 50 miles south of Miami and a few miles west of Homestead, Fla.
You will not be squeezed in the 1.5 million acres [2358 square miles] that is this national park. The assortment of wildlife is eclectic, from the tiny to the big, from the friendly to the dangerous. The plant life is exceptional. You will be seeing it all in their natural habitat.
Remember, be careful, be alert and beware. You are in “their” world. You are just a visitor. There is hiking, boating, fishing, camping, biking, canoeing and airboat rides. Tours are available and recommended – at least for first visits; to book them call 800-611-8908. For backcountry camping and hiking in remote areas, permits are required and there are obvious regulations. You will enter the park from Homestead and there are directions to follow. Be careful, be aware but be sure to visit this beautiful park.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine:
Located in America’s only one syllable state-Maine, this National Park is absolutely magnificent. It has a magic ambiance that will not be forgotten if you visit and let it permeate your soul.
You do not have to do anything to achieve this condition aside from just being there. On Mount Desert Island is where most of the park is located. There are several information centers. Finding out as much as possible, from wherever possible is best, before you start this magnificent experience.
Acadia National Park has about 47,633 acres. A very slow moving huge glacier helped “design” this masterpiece – mountain, lakes, boulders and the only fjord in the East Coast of the USA – 7 mile long Somes Sound.
Also there is Cadillac Mountain which is the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard and is 1,532 feet above sea level. The views are breathtaking. There is a lot to do around this very special part of Maine. Takes lots of deep breaths as you view that beautiful and magical Acadia National Park.
Driving diva Gerry Hemple Davis is the author of several travel books including Romancing the Road