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.
Around 1.3 million visitors pass through California's Joshua Tree every year to experience the park's two deserts: The higher, cooler Mojave takes over the western end, and the lower and drier Colorado is covered in critters and various kinds of cacti. Even though the park was established as a national monument in 1936, it wasn't elevated to National Park status until 1994 by the Desert Protection Act, which also added more than 230,000 acres to the park. Today, it's a popular destination for hikers, stargazers, and campers who stay at one of Joshua Tree’s nine designated campgrounds.
Don't Miss: Cottonwood Spring Oasis is considered one of Joshua Tree's best kept secrets, and is about seven miles from the southern entrance to the park. During the gold rush, the spring was a frequent stop for miners passing through on their journey north and was the site of several gold processing mills.
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