Friday, November 13, 2015

Photo by Aaron Meyers/Stocksy.
Design by Erik Mace for World traveling club
Travel.By Matt BellThe trick to a meaningful U.S.
national park visit? See the
main attractions, but spend most of your time beneath the well-trodden
surface.
Instead of being distracted by busloads of tourists, you"ll be
captivated"by each park"s inspiring heart.
Here are eight American national
park excursions that will steer you away from the general public and maybe
give you a life-changing experience.Glacier National Park: Climate change,
hiking, rafting
Days needed: 5 Glacier National Park, Montana (Photo:
National Parks Service)
The U.S Geological Survey estimates that this Park"s
namesake glaciers will exist only in memory by 2030.
All the more reason to
see them now, but don"t just show up—have your visit raise money for
organizations dedicated to fighting glacier-melting climate change.
The
non-profit Climate Ride"($100 registration, minimum $2,800 in fundraising)
hosts a yearly four-day hiking trip/fundraiser in August that"s set up for
in-shape beginners.
Daily hikes take you to the most scenic parts of the
park—Grinnell Glacier, Going-to-the-Sun-Road, Logan Pass, Lake
McDonald, and Two Medicine Valley—with guides who are well versed in
glacial climatology.
By night you sleep in set-up tents in front of country
campsites and enjoy food from a Climate Ride chef.
On day five, you"re
rewarded for your hiking and good deeds with a day off your feet—a
rafting journey down the Flathead River to the Park"s west entrance.More from
AFAR: The AFAR Guide to Road Trips
Grand Canyon National Park: Indigenous
culture
Days needed: 1-6The Grand Canyon (Photo: National Parks Service)
You
can hike, raft, ride a mule, fly over, or just enjoy the Grand Canyon"s scenic
overlooks, but the best way to get to the heart of this colossal place is to
learn about the Canyon"s role as a major sacred site to Native Americans.
Get
your facts firsthand from your Hopi guide on NDN2rs‘"day-long site
seeing and art shopping drive on Grand Canyon View Road (from $350).
Have more
time? Try their 6-day Ancient Ways of the Hopi tour"(from $2,795)—you
only spend one day in the Grand Canyon (arrive earlier if you want to see
more), but the rest of the trip is spent in the small, ancestral villages of
the surrounding Hopi Mesa and ends in the overlooked gem of Chaco Culture
National Historical Park in New Mexico, home to thousand-year-old cliff
dwellings that match the Coliseum in size—not to mention some of the
best stargazing in the U.S."Great Smoky Mountain National Park: Glamping
Days
needed: 4Great Smoky Mountains (Photo: National Parks Service)
Great Smoky
Mountain National Park has one of the world"s best-preserved deciduous
forests, the oldest mountains in the U.S., and more than twice the number of
tourists than any other National Park.
Thing is, they"re mostly driving the
384 miles of scenic asphalt that bisect the wilds.
To see more, ditch the
car.
REI"s 4-day Great Smoky Mountains Adventure"(from $1,199) is built for
first-timers and supplies you with all the camping gear you need (minus a
backpack, boots, and sleeping bag, which you can rent) and guides you along
the classic Boogerman Trail, which is full of pioneer and Cherokee history,
and to parts of the Appalachian trail that most day hikers never hit.
You"ll
also go zip-lining and rafting on the Nantahala River.
But, at night, you"ll
bunk in one of REI"s new signature camps (launched in 2015)—posh fully
furnished, glamping campsites with cushy tents, cozy cots, and cooking areas
capable of serving up fine fare you"d never expect to eat in the
backcountry.
At camp you can experience the serenity of the ancient woods at
night: the gentle sounds of owl calls and the crackle of a campfire.More from
AFAR: South America"s Most Jaw Dropping Landscapes
Katmai National Park:
Photography, wildlife viewing
Days needed: 8-14 Katmai National Park (Photo:
National Parks Service)
The world"s largest population of coastal grizzlies
live in Katmai National Park.
To get a glimpse, all you have to do is cruise
by, but if you want to spend some quality time near these enormous
creatures—plus nab some jaw-dropping photos—it"s worth venturing
here with a seasoned wildlife photographer.
Nat Hab runs two small group photo
workshops to Katmai (no more than 12 people) with vet bear photographers Brad
Josephs or Justin Gibson."There"s an eight-day journey (from $8,995) where
you"ll spend four days visiting Katmai from a small, eight-passenger ship
parked off the coast, plus spend a few days experiencing bear-filled Kodiak
Island.
There"s also"a more exhaustive 14-day wildlife adventure"(from
$11,595) with three days in Katmai"s Brooks Lodge, plus four days deep in
Denali National Park at the North Face Lodge, two days on a private boat in
Kenai Fjords National Park, as well as a train ride through the Alaska
backcountry.
You can bring your long lens, but you"ll get so close to the
animals you probably won"t even use it.Yellowstone National Park: Wildlife
viewing
Days needed: 3-7"Yellowstone National Park (Photo: National Parks
Service)
Unusual geothermal formations might be the reason Yellowstone became
the world"s first national park, founded in 1872.
But these days it"s just as
much about the wolves, which were reintroduced to the park in 1995 after a
60-year absence.
Ever since, Jackson, Wyo.-based Teton Science and their team
of biologists-cum-guides have been leading small wolf-spotting expeditions
into the park.
Armed with professional-grade scopes and binoculars, vans with
pop-tops, and insider radio connections to the park"s daily wolf monitors,
visitors"will catch a much better glimpse of"these elusive critters than if
they tried on their own.
Die hards should check out their seven-day Winter
Wolves of Yellowstone trip"(from $3,300), which is when wolves are most easily
spotted (and the park least crowded).
The three-day spring and fall
excursions"(from $1,450) may yield less wolves but you will see a lot of other
wildlife like bears and elk.
And you"ll still be able to snap photos of the
mainstays—Teton will make sure you swing by Old Faithful, Mammoth
Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

More from AFAR: 12 Must-Do
Experiences in Montana
Yosemite National Park: Camping, hiking
Days needed:
3-5Yosemite National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
About 80 percent of
visitors to Yosemite never venture further than the Yosemite Valley, which
only makes up one percent of this enormous 1,190-square-mile park.
And
usually, they stay for only one day.
That may be OK for Instagram, but not so
much for the soul.
To really grasp the wonderment that made naturalist John
Muir Yosemite"s chief advocate (and to beat the crowds), go a little further
down the trail with Incredible Adventures—an eco-tour company based in
San Francisco.
They"re one of the few outfitters to hold a permit with the
National Parks Service that allows them to give guided, interpretive
hikes.
The three-day Yosemite Escape Camping trip"(from $429, gear included)
gets"you highlights like El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridealveil Falls, and
Yosemite Valley, but you"ll go deeper into the sprawling meadows of the rarely
seen high country and the Sequoia forest.
If you"ve already seen the Park"s
main points, Just Roughin" It"also has a guiding permit and leads extended
treks into Yosemite"s backcountry (gear included)—Red Peak Pass (from
$1,075) is a 51-mile, five-day"day backpacking loop into the most rugged
reaches of Yosemite"s High Sierra."
Zion National Park, Canyoneering
Days
needed: 1Zion National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
Visitors to Zion
will be awestruck by two things: first, the incredible magnitude of the Park"s
gorgeous rock formations, canyons, and plant life, and second by the crowds of
people coming to admire it all—especially on the popular Narrows and
Angel"s Landing hikes.
It can get a little circus-like, so follow the locals
who know that the real gems of this park are her hidden slot canyons.
Zion
Rock Guides"takes the uninitiated—even the out of shape—on
four-hour trips to slot canyons not on the tourist trail, where you"ll rappel
as much as 80 feet down to the bottom (from $115).
If you"re looking for
something more challenging, ask them about the Subway, a full-day hiking,
swimming, canyoneering combo that requires permits well in advance, so the
trail is never crowded.More from AFAR: Yellowstone: An Epic Long Weekend

Canyonlands National Park: Stargazing, rafting, camping
Days needed:
2-6Canyonlands National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
Canyonlands is a
postcard-perfect image of the wild American frontier—a 527 square-mile
playground of colorful canyons, mesas, rivers, natural arches, and wide-open
vistas.
As one of the last mapped sections of the lower 48 and the largest of
Utah"s National Parks, it was not built to be seen in a day.
Go deep with
OARS, who spend six days camping and rafting class III-IV rapids on the
Colorado River through Cataract Canyon with renowned geology and astronomy
expert, Lars Haarr"(from $1,499).
Float through The Maze District (of 127
Hours fame), check out thousand-year-old petroglyphs and Native American
ruins, hike trails that aren"t found on the parks" free map, conquer the
rapids, and spend your nights unwinding while gazing up at the Milky Way (with
explanation!).
For a shorter, drier stay, Navtec Expeditions"(from $595) runs
two-and four-day overnight camping trips into The Maze, but you"ll have to
bring your own camping gear or rent.WATCH: 350-Million-Year-Old Salt Lakes and
Fool-Uru: Australian Outback"s Other WondersLet World traveling club Travel
inspire you every day.
Watch World traveling club Travel"s new original series "A Broad Abroad.""
Here are eight American national park excursions that will steer you away from
the general public and maybe give you a life-changing experience.
Glacier
National Park: Climate change, hiking, rafting Days needed: 5 Glacier National
Park, Montana (Photo: National Parks Service) The U.S Geological Survey
estimates that this Park's namesake glaciers will exist only in memory by
2030..Yellowstone National Park: Wildlife viewing
Days needed:
3-7"Yellowstone National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
Unusual
geothermal formations might be the reason Yellowstone became the world"s first
national park, founded in 1872.
But these days it"s just as much about the
wolves, which were reintroduced to the park in 1995 after a 60-year
absence.
Ever since, Jackson, Wyo.-based Teton Science and their team of
biologists-cum-guides have been leading small wolf-spotting expeditions into
the park.
Armed with professional-grade scopes and binoculars, vans with
pop-tops, and insider radio connections to the park"s daily wolf monitors,
visitors"will catch a much better glimpse of"these elusive critters than if
they tried on their own.
Die hards should check out their seven-day Winter
Wolves of Yellowstone trip"(from $3,300), which is when wolves are most easily
spotted (and the park least crowded).
The three-day spring and fall
excursions"(from $1,450) may yield less wolves but you will see a lot of other
wildlife like bears and elk.
And you"ll still be able to snap photos of the
mainstays—Teton will make sure you swing by Old Faithful, Mammoth
Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

More from AFAR: 12 Must-Do
Experiences in Montana
Yosemite National Park: Camping, hiking
Days needed:
3-5Yosemite National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
About 80 percent of
visitors to Yosemite never venture further than the Yosemite Valley, which
only makes up one percent of this enormous 1,190-square-mile park.
And
usually, they stay for only one day.
That may be OK for Instagram, but not so
much for the soul.
To really grasp the wonderment that made naturalist John
Muir Yosemite"s chief advocate (and to beat the crowds), go a little further
down the trail with Incredible Adventures—an eco-tour company based in
San Francisco.
They"re one of the few outfitters to hold a permit with the
National Parks Service that allows them to give guided, interpretive
hikes.
The three-day Yosemite Escape Camping trip"(from $429, gear included)
gets"you highlights like El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridealveil Falls, and
Yosemite Valley, but you"ll go deeper into the sprawling meadows of the rarely
seen high country and the Sequoia forest.
If you"ve already seen the Park"s
main points, Just Roughin" It"also has a guiding permit and leads extended
treks into Yosemite"s backcountry (gear included)—Red Peak Pass (from
$1,075) is a 51-mile, five-day"day backpacking loop into the most rugged
reaches of Yosemite"s High Sierra."
Zion National Park, Canyoneering
Days
needed: 1Zion National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
Visitors to Zion
will be awestruck by two things: first, the incredible magnitude of the Park"s
gorgeous rock formations, canyons, and plant life, and second by the crowds of
people coming to admire it all—especially on the popular Narrows and
Angel"s Landing hikes.
It can get a little circus-like, so follow the locals
who know that the real gems of this park are her hidden slot canyons.
Zion
Rock Guides"takes the uninitiated—even the out of shape—on
four-hour trips to slot canyons not on the tourist trail, where you"ll rappel
as much as 80 feet down to the bottom (from $115).
If you"re looking for
something more challenging, ask them about the Subway, a full-day hiking,
swimming, canyoneering combo that requires permits well in advance, so the
trail is never crowded.More from AFAR: Yellowstone: An Epic Long Weekend

Canyonlands National Park: Stargazing, rafting, camping
Days needed:
2-6Canyonlands National Park (Photo: National Parks Service)
Canyonlands is a
postcard-perfect image of the wild American frontier—a 527 square-mile
playground of colorful canyons, mesas, rivers, natural arches, and wide-open
vistas.
As one of the last mapped sections of the lower 48 and the largest of
Utah"s National Parks, it was not built to be seen in a day.
Go deep with
OARS, who spend six days camping and rafting class III-IV rapids on the
Colorado River through Cataract Canyon with renowned geology and astronomy
expert, Lars Haarr"(from $1,499).
Float through The Maze District (of 127
Hours fame), check out thousand-year-old petroglyphs and Native American
ruins, hike trails that aren"t found on the parks" free map, conquer the
rapids, and spend your nights unwinding while gazing up at the Milky Way (with
explanation!).
For a shorter, drier stay, Navtec Expeditions"(from $595) runs
two-and four-day overnight camping trips into The Maze, but you"ll have to
bring your own camping gear or rent.WATCH: 350-Million-Year-Old Salt Lakes and
Fool-Uru: Australian Outback"s Other WondersLet World traveling club Travel
inspire you every day.
Watch World traveling club Travel"s new original series "A Broad
Abroad.""
Here are eight American national park excursions that will steer
you away from the general public and maybe give you a life-changing
experience.
Glacier National Park: Climate change, hiking, rafting Days
needed: 5 Glacier National Park, Montana (Photo: National Parks Service) The
U.S Geological Survey estimates that this Park's namesake glaciers will
exist only in memory by 2030.

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