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 Grand Canyon exposes two-billion-year-old sediments, but remains the National Park's posterchild more for because its photogenic than because its a playground for geologists. Tourists tend to peer into the canyon from the rim, but the smart ones make the hike to the bottom and back. The even smarter ones have mules carry their stuff.
DON'T MISS: As millions of tourists clog the main entrance to the park along the South Rim gateway, drive over to the North Rim to Tuweep, where adrenaline junkies head to go whitewater rafting and bypass the crowds. Camp for free next to a 3,000-foot drop and hike the park’s shortest, but steepest, trail to the bottom where Lava Falls, the roughest rapids in the whole canyon, await.
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