February break is coming up, and spring will soon come. If you are an outdoor animal, your next destination to travel to during break could be some awesome national parks. If you would like to embark on an adventure that Mother Nature would applaud, continue reading this article, where I will introduce some of the best national parks I have been to. Welcome to the ultimate playground, where the only rules are written by the wilderness.
Acadia, Maine: Believe it or not, Acadia is ranked in the top 10 of the most visited national parks in the United States. Not because of how big/nice/amazing it is, but because it is the only national park in New England and the poor northeasterners have nowhere else to go. Around a five hour drive from Brandeis, Acadia can be the best getaway place in warm weather on a long weekend with friends. Even though it’s significantly smaller than most of the national parks, Acadia has the terrain of a mix of everything—you can find ocean, sand, mountain, forest and some exciting hiking trails here. Most importantly, who doesn’t want to try some fresh lobsters and a wild blueberry drink after a day of hiking?
Everglades, Florida: Welcome to the South, where you get to breathe the humid warm air and set your feet in the muddy swamp with the alligators. If you don’t like the boring trees on the east coast, come see the exotic mangrove sawgrass thriving in the saltwater. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, signing up for an airboat safari tour will be a must. Going down the zigzagging waterway in an air-turbine-powered boat—they are specially used in the Everglades so the tangling roots of the aquatic plants won’t entwine the propeller underwater—you can see a variety of birds and wildlife. Remember to put a lot of sunscreen on, or the Everglades won’t be your favorite place!
Zion, Utah: if I ever have to pick one place from The Mighty Five in Utah, Zion will be my favorite. The other four are nice too, but I personally think they all fall into the same category of alien-like rocks and arches and hills and sand. However, Zion is unlike the others. It is literally an oasis in a land of deserts, with trees, waterways, red rocks, gouges and wildlifes all in one space. Make sure you do the signature hikes of Zion: Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Angel’s Landing is an extraordinarily steep hike that allows you to overlook the entire national park from the peak of Zion. It is also lottery-based to limit the amount of people to access it daily (sadly I didn’t get in the lottery so I wasn’t able to hike this one). The Narrows is a one-of-a-kind hike where you have to hike the entire trail in water from a narrow alleyway of towering limestone. I spent at least four hours in the icy water in January, hiked 10+ miles and I’m pretty sure I almost saw my great grandmother, but will 10/10 recommend it.
Death Valley, Nevada: Hot. HOT. Very hot. Was pretty sure I did not get out of the car at all but I could still feel the heat.
Yosemite, California: Very big park, very big trees, very watery waterfalls, very zigzaggy drives, very many people if you go in summer. If you want to take a break for your eyes from electronic devices, Yosemite is your go-to place because everything here is huge and green. It could be a quite-nice getaway place if you ever go to the west coast, but I will say it is not as special as the previous ones. My very vague memory of Yosemite was when my parents took me there when I was 12 and I got extremely bored of it and also carsick on the way there. I think I felt really sick and cried really bad, which eventually made my parents change a day of our planned national parks itinerary into Disneyland (YAY).