Apr 24

This week in the United States it’s time to celebrate all things green and leafy with it being both National Park Week and Arbor Day this coming Friday. With entrance fees to national parks across the country being waived, what better opportunity is there to go on an adventure and discover some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife.

Whether it’s hiking, swimming or kayaking that floats your boat, there is something for everyone, and we thought we would highlight a few of our favorite national parks to inspire you to get outside and experience nature.

Glacier Bay National Park

If you want to see glaciers crashing into the sea, orcas hunting their prey or brown bears effortlessly grabbing salmon from a rushing stream, head to Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, where the majestic wilderness will keep your jaw dropped for hours on end. At this time of year you may also be lucky enough to see humpback whales breaching.

Humpback whales, two adults breaching

Grand Canyon National Park

Perhaps the desert is calling you, in which case Grand Canyon National Park would be a good call. It is no wonder why nearly 5 million people visit each year, with spectacular vistas of the mile deep, 277 mile long canyon. This terrain is home to the prickly pear cactus, puma and even the Critically Endangered California condor.

California condor in flight, lateral view

Voyageurs National Park

For those of you who aren’t afraid of a few mosquitoes and like to paddle a canoe, head north to Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. This land of over 10,000 lakes is home to a variety of species such as bald eagles, moose, grey wolves, and American black bears.

Yearling American black bear playing

Everglades National Park

If you live closer to the tropical lowlands, check out Everglades National Park in Florida. This significant wetland has been designated a World Heritage Site and provides habitat for many Vulnerable species, including the American crocodile.

American crocodile photo

Shenandoah National Park

Finally, let’s look east to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This eastern mountain range offers plenty of hiking trails, excellent stargazing and of course a plethora of wildlife to view. You might be lucky enough to see the eastern redbud a brilliantly colored tree that flowers this time of year.

Eastern redbud in blossom

Get outside and get involved!

Both National Park Week and Arbor Day are great ways to celebrate nature, enjoy wildlife, and they are entirely free to take part in! Have you been to any of these parks or captured photographs of these or other species? If so, why not share them on the ARKive Facebook page or Twitter feed!

In honor of Arbor Day on April 27th, you could even get your hands dirty and plant a native tree species in your own community. Find out how you can get involved by visiting the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Maggie Graham, Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

  • Catherine H (April 28th, 2012 at 4:44 am):

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures! All are wonderful reminders of our “National” treasures–National Park system.-what are the words “…from sea to shining sea….” We have all got to do our best to help take care of our precious wild resources. On to Arbor Day site now– I participate in Arbor Day in the state I live in–each year I purchase baby trees + plant them