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.
Located below sea level near California's Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the largest national park south of Alaska and is one of the hottest and driest places on earth. The region is usually soaked in sun (rainfall averages less than two inches a year) but winter storms and summer monsoons occasionally overtake the area, and strong dust storms are relatively common. Despite these extreme conditions, Death Valley has more than 51 species of native mammals, 307 species of birds, and 36 species of reptiles. This is a cyclist's park, with more than 300 miles of paved and level paths.
Don't Miss: In Grapevine Canyon on the north end of Death Valley is Scotty's Castle, also known as Death Valley Ranch and is the former vacation home of Albert Mussey Johnson, a Chicago millionaire who was once president of the National LIfe Insurance Company. He was also a friend of the infamous con man Death Valley Scotty, who convinced many that he had built the castle with funds from his his own secret mines, and is buried nearby.
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