These beautiful U.S. parks are the perfect place to connect with nature and forget about checking email. Watching wildlife, camping in the fresh air, hiking, and taking scenic drives at destinations like Vedauwoo, Acadia, the Great Sand Dunes, the Badlands, and the west coast's redwood forests will fill travelers with deep and lasting joy.
Marveling at nature's perfection can reconnect humans to a higher power. Vacationers may experience golden sunsets over stark badlands or play king of the mountain on oddly-shaped boulders at these destinations. As they do, they’ll start to disconnect from the monotony of everyday life. Visitors to these national and state parks will discover something bigger and more profound.
Vedauwoo Recreation Area
Imagine the mess a toddler giant would make if his only toys were boulders. That's what Vedauwoo Recreation Area looks like. Just a 30-minute drive from Cheyenne, this Wyoming park in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is the perfect destination for rock climbing, fishing, camping, and weekend picnics.
Peaceful Vedauwoo is never overcrowded even though it has some prime rock climbing. Kids and their parents will love discovering shapes and faces in the boulders. They can run around and play hide-and-seek in the many nooks and crannies. Fishermen can hook brook and brown trout in the park's streams. After dusk, campers will enjoy an unrivaled view of the stars.
Great Sand Dunes Nation Park
Guests at the Great Sand Dunes National Park may think that they're in the Sahara Desert, but this destination is actually in Colorado. The park is home to the highest dunes in North America.
Visitors here can stay at the group campsite, Piñon Flat Campground, or backpack to designated sites like Indian Grove. Native Americans used to visit this grove of cottonwoods and pines. Backpackers can even see the scars they left when these earlier visitors peeled back the bark. During the day vacationers can splash in the Medanos stream, hike over the dunes, and visit the nearby mountains. Sandboarding down the dunes is rejuvenating and fun. There are excellent fishing and hunting sites as well.
Redwood National Park
California's redwood trees are a national treasure. These millennial trees can live for more than 2000 years. That means the oldest redwoods were already towering monsters well before the first Europeans arrived in the new world. The monstrous beauty and silent strength of these trees will leave hikers in awe. The Trillium Falls Hike is one of the most beautiful walks in the park and is accessible for families. Visitors will see old-growth redwoods, trillium flowers, maples, and a small waterfall.
Tourists driving or biking on scenic roads like Howland Hill Road or Cal-Barrel Road pass through the heart of old-growth redwoods. Drivers on Requa Road and the Coastal Loop will experience panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. With luck, they may get to watch whales, sea lions, and a variety of birds. Wildlife lovers can discover marine animals in the park's tide pools. They won't want to miss Endert's Beach, Damnation Creek, or the False Klamath Cove. Seastars, crabs, sea snails, and anemones are just a few of the inhabitants here.
Acadia National Park
Acadia's beauty is what originally inspired people to make it a national park. In the 1800s, artists painted these beaches and islands in Maine. When their patrons saw the masterpieces, they were inspired to visit Acadia. Later, it became a national park.
Art is what inspired people to visit and protect Acadia. Now, Acadia's resident artists inspire people to experience nature in new ways.
Resident artists stay for around two weeks each and host events for visitors. Travelers can also hike, camp, and take scenic drives around Acadia. The park has prime areas for canoeing and kayaking. One of the most beautiful islands in the park, Isle au Haut, can only be accessed by boat. Anyone considering unplugging their devices should consider a camping trip here.
The Badlands National Park
Stargazers, photography enthusiasts, and fossil lovers will adore South Dakota's Badlands National Park. Located in the southwest of the state, this area is a treasure trove of prehistoric fossils and striking geological formations. The Badlands is well-known for its clear, unobstructed night sky. This makes it the perfect location for an annual astronomy festival. Visitors who can't make the event can always take their telescopes along on a camping trip if they want to admire celestial wonders.
The wide-open landscape also means that campers can enjoy cups of hot chocolate while watching immense, fiery sunrises and sunsets.
Although the Badlands may seem stark and barren now, millions of years ago they were underwater. This ancient sea teamed with mosasaurs, huge aquatic reptiles with gigantic jaws, and bigger appetites. Paleontologists have found their fossilized remains in the Badlands along with those of large pig-like carnivores, false saber-tooth tigers, and pre-historic rhinos. Visitors can watch scientists at work as they uncover and preserve these discoveries. There are many more peaceful national and state parks to visit. Residents of every U.S. state have one nearby. The National Park Service website provides useful information for would-be travelers. Visitors can find directions on how to get there and calendars of events. Now, it's just a question of scheduling a time for a get-away and writing an out-of-office email.