If you're an outdoorsy type, you might have heard that the last week in June, this week in fact, is National Camping Week. It's the week parks and camping organizations celebrate camping by inviting folks to come on out and, well, camp!
National Camping Week is not sponsored or organized by any one group, but rather grew over the past few years almost on its own. It's a way to get people excited about camping, to learn more about the activity, and to encourage people to visit their local, state, and national parks. So, if you're a camper yourself, how about grabbing the tent, rounding up the family, and heading on out?
The U.S. National Park system is a wonder, comprising wild lands from Maine to Washington, Florida to Alaska, preserving and protecting mountains, seashores, verdant valleys, and rugged deserts. Here are three parks you may not know about.
Guadalupe Mountains, TX: This park, just 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, NM, is a hidden gem. Here you will find rugged mountain peaks, sweeping grasslands, and, most surprising, lush canyons filled with ash, oak, and maple trees. In the fall, visitors will get an eyeful of orange and yellow as the maples of McKittrick Canyon turn their autumn colors.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN: Many people might be surprised to learn that there is national parkland on the shores of Lake Michigan, only a few miles from Chicago. Indiana Dunes is a narrow but lovely strip of shoreline in Indiana 25 miles long. Camping, swimming, and animal watching are all favorite activities at this park.
Great Basin National Park, NV: This mountain and desert park, nearly 300 miles from Las Vegas in the midst of the Nevada desert, is one of the least visited National Parks. Nevertheless, this is a land of epic beauty—snowy mountains rising from the shimmering heat—and home to the oldest trees on earth, the bristlecone pines, growing their steady growth for thousands of years.