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6 underrated national parks to visit in 2016

Some within driving distance for spring break

Liah Port, Staff Writer

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From wondrous shorelines to mountainous terrains, America’s beautiful national parks are what make it so unique. Most people are familiar with the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, but what about the rest? It’s time to start adding to that bucket list.

With spring break set for March 24 to April 3, here are a few must-see places.

6. North Cascades National Park, Washington

Cascades

Tourists canoeing in the waters of the park (Photo/Courtesy of REI)

With remnants of 23 historic cultural landscapes and 81 unique nationally recognized buildings and structures, North Cascades Park in northern Washington state is an alpine wonderland. Less than 3 hours from Seattle, this national park contains more than 300 glaciers, hundreds of hiking trails and multiple camp grounds.

Popular activities include canoeing, hiking, camping and bird watching. Tourists come to see sacromills, mines and even the “lost” hotel. For more information, go to the official website.

5. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming 

Grand Teton

Teton Mountains in autumn (QT Luong/ terragalleria.com)

Near Jackson Hole, these “Mountains of Imagination” are home to exceptional wildlife, beautiful lakes and grand terrains. Established in 1929, this family friendly park is famous for its scenic routes, wayside exhibits and ranger-led walks and talks.

Tourists can also boat across Jenny Lake and climb Grand Teton. Campgrounds and cabins are present for those who wish to stay there a couple of nights. For more information, go on the official website

4. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier

Grinnell Point and Swiftcurrent Lake. View of taken Jan. 22, 2016 (NPS webcam)

Preserving over a million acres of meadows, lakes, forests and glacial-caned valleys, this national park is a hiker’s paradise. Remnants of glaciers from ice ages of 10,000 years ago, this historic site is to be seen for its beauty.

Senior Alex Dickey, who has seen Glacier National Park multiple times, says, “I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite as beautiful as Glacier Park.” She adds, “There are so many hiking trails and scenic routes to chose from. I recommend Sun Road.”

If you are interested in animal watching, sightseeing and adventurous hikes, go onto the National Park’s website for more information.

3. Acadia National Park, Maine

Arcadia

View of the Coast from one of the many hiking trails (Photo/Aubrey Steinberg)

Celebrate its 100th year! Established in 1916, this historic park is home to the tallest mountain in the northeast that overlooks the Atlantic. Not only is it the first place to see the sunrise in the U.S., but also it is famous for its incredible gardens and hiking trails.

“I go there every summer with my family,” says senior Aubrey Steinberg. She adds, “Not only does it have beautiful mountains, but it has gorgeous sand beaches and biking trails.” For more information, visit the National Park’s website.

2. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Grand Dunes

(Girl Sand boarding on High Dune) Photo/National Park Service/Patrick Myers

Protecting the tallest sand dunes in North America, Great Sand Dunes National Park contains ecosystems varying from tundra to dunes to sand sheet. Sand boarding and sledding are what attract tourists from all over the world to come visit.

Other recreational activities include hiking, car camping and backpacking. Visitors also stop by Medano Creek, where they can go fishing or hunting. At night, skies are darker and often tourists can see the Milky Way. For more information, go to their website

1. Arches National Park, Utah       

Arches

Sun setting at Delicate Arch (Wikipedia)

Just outside of Moab, Utah, Arches is a historic and beautiful National Park located on the Colorado River. With more than 2,000 natural stone arches and hundreds of pinnacles, close to 1.4 million people visited these natural rock formations in 2015. Tourists can drive the scenic route or get up close and personal on the hiking trails.

“There are a wide varieties of trails, which is great for families and larger groups,” says senior Elizabeth Simper, who has seen the arches up close. “The famous arches make you stop and stare. You wonder ‘How the heck could they have formed?’ ” adds Simper. For more information, go on the official website

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6 underrated national parks to visit in 2016