June is National Great Outdoors month, a time to celebrate the beauty and adventure that U.S. American landscapes offer. Many families escape the city hustle and bustle to travel to local camping hot spots or, for the more adventurous types, hike nature’s skyscrapers. Private and public entities alike join together to create events and activities, such as the Great American Campout, National Trails Day, and multiple Capitol and Governor's Campouts.
Among the famous Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, and Yosemite National Parks are 415 total parks scattered throughout the United States. Frequent visitors consider purchasing the America the Beautiful Pass, which allows entry into over 2,000 federal recreation sites. These parks offer everything from spectacular views, to geological grandeur, to an insight into U.S. American culture. With scenic, recreational, memorial, and even battlefield parks there’s a destination for everyone. North to South, East to West, here are some of the USA’s unique must-visit outdoor destinations:
- Yellowstone National Park: Established in 1872, Yellowstone is the nation’s first national park and one of the largest spanning almost 3,500 miles. Yellowstone is home to a number of natural beauties such as the famous Old faithful and dotted with lesser known hot springs and geysers throughout its landscape. Diverse wildlife finds refuge within the park; packs of wild wolves, elk, bears, and the world’s largest herd of wild buffalo roam the grounds freely. Given the vast sights and activities of this massive park it is essential to plan your visit ahead of time. Some ranger lead tours can span for days in order to encompass the entire park, but for the time crunched visitors one day tours are offered.
- Mount Kilauea: As one of the World’s most active volcanoes, a trip to see Mount Kilauea in Hawaii won’t disappoint. This shield volcano has been erupting on a continuous cycle since 1983, and has no plan to stop. While many thrill-seeking visitors travel to see Kilauea every year, it is important to stay within the designated areas to ensure your safety and preserve the natural habitat.
- Hoh Rain Forest: Hoh Rain forest is one of the three different ecosystems protected by Olympic National Park in Washington. This temperate rainforest is unlike any other in the U. S. because of thousands of years of geological isolation. Hundred year old trees stretch upwards to 250 feet; covered with moss, in a jungle-like atmosphere. This forest houses the nation’s largest population of elk, approximately 300-400 roaming within it’s dense vegetation. In order to preserve this habitat, do not pick flowers, take rocks, or disturb the wildlife.
- Zabriskie Point: Enclosed in the Death Valley National Park, Zabriskie Point provides one of the best views of the “badlands”. From every direction, viewers can see beautiful rock formations built through years of sun damage and the occasional downpour. But don’t let the short walk on the paved path fool you, Zabriskie Point still lives up to the Death Valley namesake. Remember to pack extra food and water in order to stay energized and hydrated.
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Although this seaside attraction is only open seasonally, (third friday in April through Columbus Day) it has frequently been named the most beautiful lighthouse in the nation and provides a unique way to experience the Atlantic ocean views. This venue hosts strict rules, but all are implemented for your own safety. Adhere to all rules while at the attraction. For additional thrills, try to schedule a moonlight climb.
Bonus Destination Havasu Falls: Located in the Havasupai Reservation, outside of the Grand Canyon National Park, lies one of the nation’s most beautiful waterfalls. This destination does require planning well in advance as reservations are required to enter the reserve. With an estimated 45 minute hike from the village, visitors to the Supai Village can “easily” hike to Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls, Little Navajo Falls, and Fifty Foot Falls. Although this attraction takes some extra work, it is well worth the wait and walk.
Whether you are introducing your children to the adventures nature has in store or traveling down a long-forgotten trail yourself, remember to take time to appreciate nature and her lessons.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.