I Heart My National Park

I Heart My National Park: Cuyahoga Valley

Crisscrossed by roads and freeways, encompassing towns, private attractions, and city parks, Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park is hardly comparable to the vast wilderness parks of the American West. But opportunities for personal reflection abound here, too. Cuyahoga Valley features secluded trails through rugged gorges that seem far removed from civilization; vistas of tree-covered hills where the urban world is out of sight; marshes where beaver, herons, and wood ducks thrive. Here’s a look at Ohio’s only national park through interpretive ranger Rebecca Jones Macko’s unique lens.

I Heart My National Park: Grand Canyon

The road to the Grand Canyon from the south crosses a gently rising plateau that gives no hint at what is about to unfold. You wonder if you have made a wrong turn. All at once an immense gorge a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide opens up. Jill Staurowsky has worked as an…

I Heart My National Park: Denali

Wildlife biologist Patricia Owen has worked at Denali National Park for more than 25 years. Her specialty? Grizzlies and other charismatic megafauna. While overseeing the park’s wildlife management program to minimize human-wildlife conflicts through education, Pat gets up close and personal with all aspects of this majestic wilderness in the Alaskan interior. Spending time in the 9,492-square-mile…

I Heart My National Park: Olympic

Encompassing 1,441 square miles of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park invites visitors to explore three distinct ecosystems: subalpine forest and wildflower meadow; temperate forest; and the rugged Pacific shore. Because of the park’s relatively unspoiled condition and outstanding scenery, the United Nations has declared Olympic both an international biosphere reserve and a World Heritage site. Here’s a look at the wild wonderland from someone who knows and loves it best.

I Heart My National Park: Glacier

Montana’s Glacier National Park is home to some 762 lakes, dozens of glaciers, and innumerable waterfalls that glisten in forested valleys. But perhaps best of all, a scenic highway and more than 700 miles of trails criss-cross the park, making much of its pristine beauty accessible to visitors. Geographer Richard Menicke arrived at Glacier in 1992, and quickly carved out a niche for himself as the park’s foremost GIS specialist. Here is his insider’s guide to this “Crown of the Continent” jewel.

I Heart My National Park: Everglades

Conservation photographer and National Geographic Explorer Carlton Ward, Jr., has been captivated by Florida’s Everglades National Park since he was a child, so much so that he’s made protecting it—and the amazing wildlife that lives there—his life’s work. Here’s a look at the ecological wonderland through his unique lens.

I Heart My National Park: Great Smoky Mountains

Backcountry management specialist Christine Hoyer has spent the last seven years working at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An outdoor enthusiast through and through, Christine is fortunate enough to have made her love of the outdoors into a career. When she’s not working in “America’s most visited national park,” Christine can be found hiking, backpacking, and photographing in her favorite place—the Great Smoky Mountains. Here is a look at this diverse park through her unique lens.

I Heart My National Park: Grand Teton

The peaks of Grand Teton National Park, regal and imposing as they stand nearly 7,000 feet above the valley floor, make one of the boldest geologic statements in the Rocky Mountains. Here’s an insider’s guide to this natural wonderland.

I Heart My National Park: Guadalupe Mountains

The Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas were once a reef growing beneath the waters of an ancient inland sea. That same vanished sea spawned the honeycomb of the Carlsbad Caverns, just 40 miles north in New Mexico. Here is Keene Haywood’s insider’s guide to this natural wonder.

I Heart My National Park: Joshua Tree

Jeff Ohlfs began his love affair with Joshua Tree National Park a quarter of a century ago. The chief ranger of the park, Ohlfs has seen more of Joshua Tree than any other person posted there. “I remember believing I could never work in a desert park,” says the national park service veteran. “Now, two decades later, I cannot pull myself away from it. For me, it is home.” Here’s his insider’s guide to one of the premier jewels of the Southern California desert.

I Heart My National Park: Big Bend

Crowned with a sky so wide that it threatens to define infinity, the Big Bend region of West Texas remains one of the last true frontiers in the Lower 48, a landscape unique in the world. Keene Haywood has been a frequent visitor to Big Bend National Park for the past 20 years, having formerly worked for The Nature Conservancy in the nearby Davis Mountain Preserve. Here’s his insider guide to this geological wonder.

I Heart My National Park: Acadia

The first national park east of the Mississippi, Acadia National Park comprises nearly 50,000 acres of rocky coastline in southern Maine. This glorious patchwork of parkland, private property, and seaside villages seasonally fills with what residents call “the summer people”—visitors getting their fill of the scenic splendor and serenity that Acadia has to offer in spades. Here’s an insider’s guide to New England’s crown jewel written by one of the park rangers that knows it best.