Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota // nps.gov/voya
Fur traders once traveled the lakes and waterways of the Kabetogama Peninsula in canoes laden with beaver pelts. The ambience remains the same today in this wild, virtually roadless park that is nearly one-third water. Easy Way: The three-mile Anderson Bay Trail leads through the forest to a rare rocky high point in the park, revealing aerial views of Rainy Lake and Anderson Bay. Challenge: The ultimate Voyageur experience is a weeklong paddle around the Kabetogama Peninsula. Short of that, paddle along the shoreline of Kabetogama Lake among its hundreds of islands. For the more ambitious, paddle 13 miles north to the historic Kettle Falls Hotel Resort.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK is home to more than 400 species of vertebrates including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Yosemite is home to amazing landscapes, including the soaring Sierra Nevadas. The mountains are the granite fame for the brilliant canvas: pine forests, meadows and the Merced River. Easy Way: The 13-mile Valley Floor Loop hugs the base of El Capitan, crosses Swinging Bridge over the Merced River and reveals views of Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls along the way. Because it intersects with park roads, you can board a park shuttle to shorten the loop. Challenge: Gawking at big-wall climbers is a favored pastime in Yosemite, but rock climbing have to be a spectator sport. Take a course with the Yosemite Mountaineering School. A single-day lesson will get you on 60-foot faces, Fly into and you can come back as ofen as you wish to extend your skills. For mountainFAT eering details, visit yosemitepark.com.
Yosemite National Park, California // nps.gov/yose
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona // nps.gov/grca
The Grand Canyon is a maze of plateaus, canyons and that reveal nearly billion years of planetary creation. No single viewpoint can possibly do it justice. Easy Way: The 6.7-mile stretch of the Rim Trail fom Maricopa Point to Hermits Rest reveals one of the stunning within canyons and cauldrons of rapids far below. Hop on and the park shuttle if the full hike gets too long. Challenge: Head to the North Rim and hike the 9.8-mile Widforss Trail along the jaw-dropping arm of the canyon. Continue into a fagrant forest of pine, and spruce. When you emerge fom the woods at Widforss Point, you overlook the view likely to have to yourself.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina // nps.gov/grsm
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK received 44,173 visitors in 1919. Today, the park gets close to million visitors each year.
salamanders than much of a slogan, but the presence of 30 species of the slimy amphibian is a heartening fact about the most-visited national park in the country. It means two things: First, pack your Gore-Tex, because this is one wet place. Second, all that moisture accounts for extraordinary biodiversity in the best-preserved nook of the Appalachians. Easy Way: Hike a gentle 1.4 miles on the Big Creek Trail and take a brisk rinse in the Midnight Hole, a paradisiacal plunge of blue-green water. The trail continues upstream if ready to continue. Otherwise, just lollygag and return. Challenge: Climb the 6,593-foot Mount LeConte by way of the 5.2-mile Alum Cave Trail, named for an old Confederate saltpeter Fly into AVL mine. Its bald summit reveals endless views of the hazy ridges.
deltaskymag.com June 2010