There Is No Substitute For America’s National Parks–
Except Maybe These Places.
Ack! You’ve been planning a trip to a National Park and now it’s closed due to the shutdown. Fear not. You have options.
Our National Parks are treasures and truly irreplaceable. Nevertheless, thanks to comparatively functional state, tribal and local governments, you can still get your scenic awe fix even though National Parks across the country are closed to visitors.
If you wanted to visit: Arcadia
Try: Camden Hills State Park or, further north, Quoddy Head State Park. Charming coastal walks, lighthouses, and conifers, all within spitting distance of lobster shacks. Take a detour to Moody’s Diner for THE BEST blueberry pie in Maine on the way there.
If you wanted to visit: Arches, Bryce, Zion
Try: The aptly named Kodachrome Basin State Park for vibrant colored desert rock, or, a bit further afield, Colorado Spring’s city park, Garden of the Gods. It’s free and phenomenally beautiful. For mountain biking among mesas, roll right out of Moab.
If you wanted to visit: Mesa Verde
Try: The Hopi Reservation. Mesa Verde is an incredible archeological site, but the mesas on the Hopi Reservation are living pueblo communities with a rich history, offering a unique insight into historic and contemporary Native American life. Or, if you’d like to visit an incredibly scenic location of particular spiritual importance, try Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
If you wanted to visit: Redwood National Park
Try: Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Big trees can be found up and down California’s coast. Here’s one of many options to walk among them.
If you wanted to visit: The Badlands
Try: Custer State Park for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and bison encounters in the Badlands. And while you’re out there, feeling sorry for yourself because you may have missed your once-in-a-lifetime chance to view Mount Rushmore, check out the massive carving at Crazy Horse Memorial instead.
If you wanted to visit: Rocky Mountain National Park
Try: Hike right out of Telluride or Aspen for gorgeous Colorado mountain scenery. Maybe you can’t afford a lift ticket in winter, but you can walk out to vistas and waterfalls for free. While you’re there, check out one of the nearby hot springs, like Orvis. Just a word of warning: Orvis is clothing optional.
If you wanted to visit: The Grand Canyon
Try: The Hulupai Nation’s Grand Canyon West for an incredible overlook, or, if you can somehow get reservations, head down to the Havasupai reservations to see and swim in amazing waterfalls among steep cliffs. If you can, plan your trip to allow for a stop at Macy’s Coffeehouse in Flagstaff for the best coffee in America.
Got a favorite non-federal park or wilderness area? Share your tips in the comment section!