PHOTO: Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park. (photo via Flickr/Tony Hisgett)
Planning for a getaway for spring break? That doesn't mean you need to visit islands jammed with college partygoers or theme parks congested with youngsters.
One of the best places you can spend your spring vacation is a national park. There are 417 national parks in the United States, and they have something to do for all ages.
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Margie Lenau loves the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, which is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.
“If you travel to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you will travel through the Joshua Tree Forest on Diamond Creek Road to the West Rim,” said Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations. “This is where they built the Glass Skywalk where, for a fee, you can walk out over the canyon and view the Colorado River.”
Death Valley National Park, located in eastern California and Nevada, is the hottest, driest national park in the United States, but there is still plenty of things for the family to do: Mudstones, canyons, mountains, wildflowers and more. (And try not to get spooked at the ghost town located in Titus Canyon and Badwater Basin’s salt flats; it's worth the visit.)
Then there’s Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, which is home to Old Faithful, a geyser that shoots 4,000 to 9,000 gallons of boiling water out of its top approximately every 74 minutes. You can also see the Yellowstone River and its 45 waterfalls, including the Upper Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which is a 109-foot powerful cascade.
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Utah’s Arches National Park is home to more than 2000 natural stone arches, including the beautiful red Delicate Arch. At 65 feet tall, it is the most recognized landmark in the park. It is also where you can see hundreds of soaring pinnacles and massive fins.
Kids of all ages will enjoy the Monument Valley on the Colorado Plateau. This Wild West location has had many westerns filmed here thanks to formations that rise up in different parts of the area stretching from northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah, and northern Arizona.
March is Women’s History Month, but any time of the year is the right time to visit the Women’s Rights National Park. Located in Seneca Falls, New York, this 6.3-acre land was the location for the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.
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The Women’s Rights National Park is also a stop on the Votes For Women History Trail, a drivable route linking sites throughout upstate New York that were important to the establishment of women's suffrage. These include the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester; Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester; Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell Childhood Home in Henrietta; and the M'Clintock House in Waterloo.
Women’s Rights National Park is open year-round and admission is free.
Last, but, (oh my), definitely not least, is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, it is known for a diversity of plant and animal life, its ancient mountains and its Southern Appalachian mountain culture.
It is also said to be America's most visited national park.
If you have young children, take note that the National Parks have a junior ranger program for those between 5-12. Pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for $2.50 at any park visitor center, complete the activities in the booklet and show it to the ranger to receive a Junior Ranger badge. It’s a great spring break souvenir.