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Celebrating National Parks

My family did NO traveling when I was a kid, which had me fantasizing endlessly, and probably why I still fantasize about traveling, and why I became a writer. At the age of 13, the first place I “traveled” to was 45 minutes away with a school friend’s family to Leo Carrillo Beach, which is a California State Beach with a campsite. Big deal! We slept outside, we walked on the sand and collected shells. Amazing. I could not WAIT to do it again. But wait I did.

So when I was 24 years old and driving to Yosemite National Park to once again camp outside, walk on the trails and take a bazillion pictures… I was beyond excited. National Parks hold a special place in my heart because of these early experiences. The National Park Service turns 102 years old this month. There are 417 national park sites in the United States that constitute more than 84 million acres of battlefields, historic sites, lake shores, recreational areas, military parks, historical parks and scenic rivers. There are 60 sites that are called National Parks. Yosemite National Park is just one of many. If we expand that to Canada, we can include their 40 national parks, which include places like the mountains of Banff National Park and the arctic chill of Ivvavik National Park.

Consider a national park holiday this Fall put together by Black Label Travel. Here is an example for a United States National Parks holiday. The Western Canyons of the United States visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Or the Pacific Northwest, visiting Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks. As for Canada, a possible itinerary might include a day hiking at Banff National Park, going to hot springs, lakes and then going to the Glacier National Park hiking trails and the stunning Icefields Parkway, and THEN try for a bear sighting in Jasper National Park.

This is just a tease. The magic begins when you contact Black Label Travel and have a conversation about your National Park fantasy, a nature dream you may have. Because at 24 years old, when the car wound around the mountain on our way in to Yosemite and the vista appeared… it was a moment I will never forget. Yosemite will truly make you forget that California is supposed to be nothing more than beaches. The sky reaching granite cliffs made by ancient glaciers and the waterfalls that begin in the clouds and plummet to depths, that create massive splash zones, had me plastered to the car window with my hands steadying my body in order for me to take in every drop of scenic sermon.

I’m guessing they are all like that. Get on the phone. Make it happen.

Shannon Calder, travel writer [Follow her on TwitterInstagram]

Denali National Park, Alaska

Badlands, South Dakota

Joshua Tree National Park, California

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