As the National Park Service gears up for its centennial in 2016, it's re-branding to attract a broader audience. So far, the only major change has been to the logo, which trades the busy nature scene sketch for a single white arrowhead. Park Service representative Kathy Kupper said more changes will come, but they'll mostly take place in 2015 and won't affect the parks themselves.
"Baby boomers grew up with parks, but 50 years ago or so, distractions like Disneyland and theme parks began to pop up," Kupper said. "Now, with the internet age, we began to worry that they could be forgotten. So we're revamping a little."
While a new look is welcome, longtime park patrons known that what makes parks significant isn't the packaging, but what's inside their borders. Still, the more popular parks get crowded – Yellowstone gets an average of 26,500 visitors every day in July – so it's wise to seek out new territory. In that spirit, we rounded up 23 of the most scenic national parks and their best attractions, from the quiet lighthouses at Michigan's Isle Royale to glaciers only viewed by seaplane in Wrangell-St. Elias.
Early settlers nicknamed this area in southwestern South Dakota "badlands" because of its rugged landscape that was difficult to traverse on foot. These days, adventure-seekers often bike it instead. Marked by sharp spires of eroded sediment, as well as one of the country's largest grass prairies, approximately half of the park is within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During World War II, parts of Badlands were used by the U.S. military as a practice aerial bombing range (in fact, parts of the South Unit still contain some unexploded munitions). Curious visitors can stop by the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site nearby.
Don't Miss: The Ben Reifel Visitor Center displays many of the fossils found at Badlands, which is a popular destination for paleontologists. In 2010, a young girl found the fossil of a saber tooth cat near the Badlands visitor center that lead to a slew of additional fossil discoveries. The area is now known as the Saber Site.
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