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.
The area near the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico was once home to an ancient, inland sea roughly 250 million years ago. The grounds have since dried out, leaving behind the vast maze of Carlsbad Caverns. Visitors can go spelunking with park rangers through some of the 119 caverns that formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, including the Big Room, which stretches more than six football fields.
Don't Miss: Let the Big Room swell with tourists and have a ranger take you to Slaughter Canyon Cave, an underground wilderness that requires flashlights and headlamps. It's a slightly more strenuous adventure that begins with a half-mile trek to the cave, but you’ll see a large crystal-lined column called the Christmas Tree and the Chinese Wall, a shallow dam of rimstone.
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