I Heart My National Park

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nan Groves Anderson has lived near Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah for 17 years. And as the executive director of the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition, she gets to share her love for her slice of red-rock-country heaven with the world. Now she’s sharing her insider insight on this geologic wonder with the Nat Geo community. Here’s a look at Capitol Reef through Nan’s eyes.

Kari Cobb has been a ranger at Yosemite National Park for nearly a decade, and has been a public affairs specialist there since 2008. Kari’s duties include conducting hundreds of media interviews every year, writing and disseminating news releases, arranging dignitary visits, and managing special events in the park. Here are a few of her favorite things about mighty Yosemite.

There are few people living who know Yellowstone better than Jeremy Schmidt. The Jackson Hole-based writer and photographer has spent 40 years working there as a ranger, “winterkeeper,” and guide. Here’s his insider’s guide to America’s very first national park.