If you’re seeking a fun way to practice hands-on science and awesome observation skills with the whole family, look no further than a trip to one of the national parks! 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. With a goal of helping conserve the country’s natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment and education of future generations, the system maintains 425 individual sites, including parks, seashores, historic sites, monuments and more.
Prepare for Your Trip
The South region is incredibly diverse with opportunities to hike, swim, climb and explore. It’s known for long summers and mild winters. To prepare, you should check the weather before planning your trip, always carry extra water and a healthy snack, and look at the National Park Service website to determine the supplies and permits you might need to make your trip a happy one.
Before you hit the road to your next great adventure, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the nature you’re soon to experience. We encourage you to research the area you’re visiting and make a checklist of animals, plants, geographic features and even weather patterns you’re hoping to see. Don’t forget to bring a notebook and writing utensil with you to journal all your firsthand observations. You might even want to bring a camera to capture new family memories!
Discover the National Parks of the South
From desert canyons to dense marshes to grand mountains, you’ll be introduced to an impressive variety of plants and countless animals that hide in the water, roam the land and cruise through the sky across this region. On top of that, the breathtaking geographical features found in the following national parks make great additions to any bucket list!
Big Bend National Park
This national park in Texas features canyons carved by rivers, a remote mountain range and beautiful desert landscapes. Whether you hike one of the many trails or float the Rio Grande, there are plenty of unique features and animal life to discover. Keep an eye out for the long-eared owl, majestic mountain lion, curious gray fox and slithering mottled rock rattlesnake. You might even see one of the fossils that are abundant throughout the park!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
America’s most visited national park is located in Tennessee and North Carolina, and is known for breathtaking views, ancient mountains and impressive biodiversity. While most famous for the impressive American black bear, there’s no shortage of curious creatures to see across the mountains, streams and sky. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the tiny tri-colored bat, shy five-lined skink or reclusive bobcat.
Everglades National Park
If you’re looking for an experience like no other, you might want to consider spending time on the water in Florida’s Everglades National Park, where hiking, boating and kayaking are all common activities. If you have a chance to visit, you might spot a little grass frog, a fancy American flamingo, the endangered West Indian manatee or a startling American alligator.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Stretching across the coasts of Florida and Mississippi are the warm white beaches, flowing bayous and costal waters of the Gulf Islands. Thousands of birds, mammals, amphibians and marine life call this national seashore home. You might spot a pod of dolphins putting on a playful show, witness loggerhead sea turtles making their way to the ocean or run into a pale white ghost crab – the world’s fastest land crab!
Stay tuned into our blog for more ways you can uncover STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in your own backyard and across the country!