News From Our Blog

Explore the Sights and Scenery of Acadia National Park

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Acadia National Park

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Image description: Sunrise in Acadia National Park. Photo from the National Park Service

Maine’s Acadia National Park has it all: mountains, carriage roads, islands, woods, ocean, lighthouses and boats. With all of its sights and scenery, what are you waiting for?

The park offers 120 miles of historic hiking trails, most of which date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. You’ll find historic features, including stonework and carriage roads, that date back to the early days of America’s founding.

The main attractions at the park don’t focus on its expansive history, though, instead they focus on the beautiful Maine scenery. When you visit, don’t miss these sights:

  • Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain in the park - and along the east coast of the United States. Standing at 1,350 feet, this peak offers breathtaking views of the neighboring region, and is accessible via a winding, narrow 3.5 mile road. During certain times of the year, it is the first place in the United States where you can see the sunrise.

  • The Wild Gardens of Acadia, which feature a “microcosm of Mount Desert Island’s natural habitat.” A must-see for nature lovers and people interested in experiencing the native environment of the area. Note: No pets are allowed in the gardens.

  • Bass Head Harbor Lighthouse, the only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island, which has access trails on either side of the behemoth lighthouse, offering beautiful views of the Maine coast. Note: Visitors are not allowed inside the lighthouse itself.

  • Park Loop Road (PDF), which offers outstanding views of the shoreline, coastal forests, and granite peaks for 27 miles. Still not sold? Consider hiking along the road, rather than driving for some scenic exercise!

  • Isle au Haut, “High Island,”(PDF) named by French navigator Samuel Champlain in 1604. Ride a ferry to the island and explore its 18 miles of trails, starting from Duck Harbor and featuring rocky coasts, woods, marshes, bogs, and a beautiful freshwater lake.

No lodging is available inside the park except for camping, but the local chambers of commerce offer plenty of hotels and other lodgings in the nearby area for people to stay. Before visiting, check out the park’s suggestions for outdoor activities and the NPS’ weather information about the park, including a current forecast.

Hike, Camp and More in Yosemite National Park

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Yosemite National Park

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Image description: People have been camping in Yosemite National Park since the 1800s. Photo from the National Park Service.

World-renowned photographer Ansel Adams captured some of the nation’s best sights and scenery in his lifetime of work as a nature photographer. In the words of President Jimmy Carter, Adams was “drawn to the beauty of nature’s monuments” - and he found no greater inspiration than Yosemite National Park.

Adams, though perhaps one of the most well-known and artistic, is far from the only person to find success and happiness within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. Thousands of visitors have visited the 1,200 square miles of national park since its protection in 1864, hiking miles of trail, capturing one of its many scenic cliff faces on film, laying down in a meadow, or camping in the middle of the valley.

Although the park may be most known for its picturesque waterfalls, there are a plethora of activities available for visitors to explore and experience:

Before traveling, check the current conditions in the park and read up on its illustrious history.

Explore the Iconic Mount Rushmore

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Mount Rushmore

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Image description: The iconic Mount Rushmore. Photo from the National Park Service.

Mount Rushmore is iconic, there’s no doubt about it! The massive carving, with its surrounding mountainside, is one of our nation’s most recognizable public landmarks. That’s not all there is to it, though - by visiting this public land, you can learn about the sculptures’ tumultuous history, explore the Avenue of Flags or take a hike in the South Dakota Black Hills.

More than 3 million visitors from across the nation and around the world visit the park annually, to see the landmark that has been described as a “symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.”

Initially, Doane Robinson, often called the “Father of Mount Rushmore,” intended for a carving of one of the Needles in the likeness of a notable Sioux. This plan changed as time went on and today, the carvings of four great American presidents look out from the side of Mount Rushmore.

 To learn more about the history of the installation - including the blasting away of one of the president’s heads in 1933 and the proposal of including Susan B. Anthony on the mountainside - check out PBS’s timeline of Mount Rushmore’s creation.

After taking a snapshot of the 60-foot-tall heads staring out at you from the ancient rock, be sure to check out the other activities that the park has to offer:

  • Visit the Avenue of Flags (PDF), created as a celebration of America’s bicentennial

  • Take a guided walk to the Sculptor’s Studio, or one of the other available ranger tours

  • Attend the Evening Sculpture Lighting Ceremony which takes place at approximately 9 p.m. nightly from May to September

  • Take in the Burkett Plaque, in honor of then-college student William Andrew Burkett’s award-winning essay (PDF)

  • Bask in the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota

When planning your visit, you can check out the National Weather Service’s forecast or read brochures about the park, available online through the National Park Service. You can also read President George Bush’s remarks at the park’s dedication July 3, 1991, available courtesy of the American Presidency Project.

Enjoy National Parks with an Annual Pass

If your vacation or weekend plans include visits to national parks and recreation areas, consider getting a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

Benefits of the Pass

The pass provide entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States. Entrance covers:

  • Pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single private vehicle where per-vehicle fees are charged.
  • Pass owner and three accompanying individuals ages 16 and older where per-person entrance fees are charged (children under 16 are admitted for free).


Types of Passes

  • Annual Pass - It’s $80 (ages 16 years and older) and valid for one year.
  • Annual Pass for Military - Members of the U.S. military and their dependents are eligible for a free Annual Pass. 
  • Senior Pass - It’s $10 and valid for the lifetime of the pass owner. You must be 62 years or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Access Pass - It’s free for the lifetime of the pass holder with documentation of a permanent disability. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Volunteer Pass - You can earn this pass with 250 or more hours of volunteer service on public lands. The pass is valid for one year.
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From the U.S. Department of Interior:

Not all of our public lands are far from urban areas. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area chronicles two hundred years of history, from Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, and the California Gold Rush. It also provides some pretty killer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Photo: Justin Kern

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From the U.S. Department of Interior:

Not all of our public lands are far from urban areas. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area chronicles two hundred years of history, from Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, and the California Gold Rush. It also provides some pretty killer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

Photo: Justin Kern