Last updated: 07:39 AM ET, Thu April 16 2015

5 Great Ways to Enjoy National Parks

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | April 15, 2015

5 Great Ways to Enjoy National Parks

Photo Courtesy of Yosemite National Park

This is National Park Week, a government campaign to get citizens across the country excited about the myriad scenic national parks, and immersive sites across our great land. We thought we would give you a few facts about the national parks that you might not know and maybe at the same time give you another reason to go out there and experience them.

You Can Eat Here

Many national parks across the United States have dining facilities on site. In the same manner as a food and wine pairing, cuisine and a great view go together throughout the national park system. Some parks have numerous eateries. During their high season, Yellowstone has 11 full service restaurants, as well as nine other locations where you can grab a light bite. Yosemite has more than ten locations and even provides a dining guide to let you know your dining options, and whether your meal is going to be organic or locally sourced.

You Can Golf Here

Photo courtesy of Highland Links Cape Cod

Golf and parks seem to go side by side because of the beauty and the peace of both experiences, but did you know that you can actually golf inside of a few national parks? Highland Links Cape Cod is a nine hole course on the Cape Cod National Seashore; the three courses of East Potomac Gold Course at the National Mall and Memorial Parks provide 36 holes overlooking the capitol; and Wawona Golf Course at Yosemite National Park are just a few of the places across the country that you can chase after that little white ball. Rates are typically reasonable and to be honest, you can’t beat the views.

Be Artistically Inspired Here

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Artists have been creating in the national parks since the late 19th century. Today, the National Park Service has an Artist in Residence program that provides visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media artists with a two- to four-week program at over 50 different national parks. Many of them even include lodging. Each park has its own application process, so consult each website for more information, or to apply.

Be More Urban

Photo courtesy of the Martin Luther King Junior Historic Site

Not all National Parks are expanses of natural beauty dotted by forests and wildlife. Some are historic landmarks and buildings, and even an underwater ship. The Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and even the Martin Luther King Junior Historic Site are all places that fall under the umbrella of the national park service. They are still beautiful in their own way, they are just located amongst a more urban form of wildlife.

Become a Park Ranger/Junior Park Ranger

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Maybe you have always dreamed of becoming a park ranger, or you just want to change things up and do something totally different and cool. You can join the ranks of over 20,000 National Park Service employees. Park Rangers make up about 15 percent of the employees of the NPS, and they are always looking for folks to fill their ranks.  They also offer internships and volunteer opportunities, too. For the kids, the Junior Park Ranger Program offers kids the chance to complete a worksheet at each National Park they go to, share their answers with a park ranger, and earn a Junior Park Ranger Badge and certificate.

So hopefully you learned something about the National Park System, and will take some extra time out this summer to find your park. Where is your favorite park to go to? What unique experiences would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

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