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.
With more than 800,000 acres, Big Bend is the largest park in Texas, running along the Rio Grande River that forms the boundary between Mexico and the United States. It was established in 1944 and is one of the least-visited parks in the country, despite being home to more than 1,500 species of plants, birds, and mammals. Hiking and backpacking are popular activities in the park, but nothing quite compares to its stargazing. In 2012, the park was named one of the 10 best places on the planet to stargaze by the International Dark-Sky Association because it has some of the darkest skies in the continental U.S.
Don't Miss: Marfa, Texas, a remote ranching community turned style hub, is a two hour drive northwest of Big Bend and is a must-see if you’re in the area. In recent years, the town has become home to a thriving music scene, fashion-forward boutiques, modern art exhibits and trendy food trucks. Locals recommend playing pool at Lost Horse Saloon before checking into a teepee or RV at the hotel El Cosmico.
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