From the islands of Hawaii to the seashores of Maine, the National Park System draws hundreds of millions of visitors across the country each year. With a goal of helping conserve the country’s natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment and education of future generations, the National Park System of the United States maintains 425 individual sites, including parks, seashores, historic sites, monuments and more.
Preparing for Your Trip
The Midwest region has impressive geographical features to swim, hike, camp and explore. It’s known for its two weather extremes – icy cold winters and hot, humid summers – so each season offers a unique experience. 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 stay safe on your big adventure.
Before you gear up and hit the road, 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 mind-blowing observations. You also might want to bring a camera to capture new family memories or wildlife sightings!
Discover Midwest National Parks
Characterized by sprawling plains and four of five Great Lakes, the Midwest might be considered relatively flat in elevation, but not in excitement. Filled with diverse animal species and breathtaking views, there’s so much to see in this region. Keep reading to uncover four incredible Midwest National Parks – but be warned, they’re almost guaranteed to make you expand your bucket list!
Voyageurs National Park
This National Park in Minnesota has a wide array of habitats to investigate, including forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers. This park has incredible night-sky views, so consider checking out one of their Star Parties on your trip. While visiting Voyageurs, keep your eyes peeled for the vibrant blue spotted salamander and impressive moose. If you listen closely, you might even hear the howl of a gray wolf from one of the park’s several wolf packs!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Miles of impressive sand beaches coupled with huge bluffs and vibrant forests make up the Sleeping Bear Dunes along Lake Michigan. With such varied and exciting natural features, you can climb tall sand dunes for beautiful views, explore lakes by kayak, hit the trails year-round and so much more! If you get the chance to visit this National Park, you could be lucky enough to encounter a majestic trumpeter swan, see a snoozing black bear (the namesake of the park) or get serenaded by western chorus frogs.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Just down the road from bustling cities, this National Park in Ohio is a quiet escape filled with lush forests, a winding river, sandstone ledges, waterfalls and over 125 miles of hiking trails. As you venture through the park, you might come face-to-face with some curious creatures! Be on the lookout for the more than 50 butterfly species recorded within the park, beavers working hard to build a sturdy home or northern water snakes basking in the sun.
Badlands National Park
With beautiful rock formations and expansive prairies, Badlands National Park in South Dakota is filled with unique animals and awe-inspiring geological structures. Venture into the past at the Badlands’ Fossil Preparation Lab and soak in the amazing views throughout the park. As you explore, you could be greeted by an array of inspiring and endangered species. Look for the massive American bison, sleepy black-footed ferret and playful prairie dogs!
Stay tuned in to our blog for more ways you can uncover STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in your own backyard and across the country!