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Enchanting Escapes in our National Parks (Part 2)

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To Start at Part 1 click here.

One of the most diverse national parks in America, Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine is home to 320 species of birds and 50 species of mammals, and sits on the boundary of two of North America’s major botanical zones. www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is where our former president transformed from a naïve, scrawny teenager to an enlightened, beefy, mentally and physically strong man in large part because of his experiences in this once harsh landscape in Medora (the South Unit) and Watford City (the North Unit), North Dakota. www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm

In Copper Center, Alaska you will find America’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, encompassing 13.2 million acres and the 18,008 foot high Mount St. Elias, one of the tallest peaks in North America. www.nps.gov/wrst/index.htm

Located in Homestead, Florida, Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the country, its wildlife encompassing a wide array of endangered and rare species including the Florida panther, American crocodile and the manatee. www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm

Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms, California is highlighted by a landscape in which the western half marks the southern tip of the Mojave Desert, and the eastern half marks one of the westernmost tips of the Sonoran Desert, both possessing distinct desert ecosystems. www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm

Situated at the southern tip of the Northern Boreal Forest in International Falls, Minnesota, Voyageurs National Park, regarded as “The Heart of the Continent,” is highlighted by a distinctive landscape formed from mountains, earthquakes and volcanic activity, and where a series of interconnected waterways flow west then eventually north as part of the Hudson Bay arctic watershed. www.nps.gov/voya/index.htm

"National Parks: America's Best Idea"

Documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan got it right when they created National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-part series on PBS (which also featured Ranger Johnson), which they say is “ a story of people: people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.”

Just looking at the numbers alone, one can see just how vast and amazing this system is with 13 national parks, some 7,529,549 visitors last year alone, 1,462 National Register of Historic Places listings, 24 National Historic Landmarks, 17 National Natural Landmarks, and 275,330 hours donated by volunteers, just to name a few.

African Americans influence and history in the National Park System runs deep, extending far beyond the magnificent landscapes of the national parks themselves. There are numerous exciting and historic entities which also make up part of the National Park System, dotted all over the country. Here are few to check out as you travel both in your own backyard, and further afield:

To Start at Part 1 click here.

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