The National Park System in the United States is made up of 425 individual sites, including parks, seashores, historic sites, monuments and more. The National Park System maintains these locations to help conserve the country’s national and cultural heritage. From the islands of Hawaii in the West all the way to Maine in the Northeast, the National Park System draws hundreds of millions of visitors each year. Looking for a fun way to practice hands-on science and awesome observation skills? Look no further than the national parks in your region!
Preparing for Your Trip
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are filled with a variety of geographical features to hike, swim, climb and explore, so there’s always something new to see in the warmth of summer, snowy winter, rainy spring or vibrant fall. To prepare, you should check the weather, always carry water and a snack, and look at the National Park Service website to determine the supplies and permits you might need.
Before you hit the trails, throw on your thinking cap and get ready for some awesome observations. We encourage you to research the area you’re visiting and make a checklist of animals, plants, geographic features or even weather patterns you’re hoping to see. Don’t forget to bring a notebook and writing utensil with you to journal all your cool findings!
Exploring Northeast and Mid-Atlantic National Parks
From mountains and valleys to lakes and the sprawling coastline, you’ll be introduced to breathtaking geographical features and amazing animals that reside in the water, roam the land and fly up in the sky across national parks in this region. Keep reading to discover a few places to add to your bucket list!
Acadia National Park
This national park in Maine has a vast array of natural features including coastlines, forests, impressive mountains and valleys that were carved by enormous glaciers. With so many different ecosystems, the animal life in this park is very diverse. Throughout the park, you could encounter hundreds of unique critters including curious harbor seals, little brown bats, hard-at-work beavers and peregrine falcons — the fastest animal in the world!
Assateague Island National Seashore
The sandy beaches, shrub thickets and salt marshes of Assateague Island stretch along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia with ocean currents, storms and seasonal weather reshaping the island regularly. Best known for its beautiful bands of wild horses, there are plenty of creatures to see on the island and in the surrounding waters. Keep an eye out for the non-native sika deer, slithering black rat snakes, scurrying ghost crabs and summer flounder fish.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Extending off the coast of Massachusetts, this seashore has many ecosystems including beaches, swamps, marshes and forests. If you have the chance to visit Cape Cod, you might be lucky enough to encounter a piping plover bird, slow-moving box turtle or rare spadefoot toad, which spends much of its life hidden away in the sand.
Shenandoah National Park
Located in Virginia, the Shenandoah National Park includes 300 square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The wetlands and forests of this park are home to thousands of interesting creatures. Black bears and bobcats may be spotted deep within the forest while playful river otters take to the water. On a rare occasion, one might even see the endangered Shenandoah salamander, which can only be found in Shenandoah National Park!
Follow along with our blog for more ways you can explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), in your own backyard and across the country!