This spring on our way north after a few months in Florida I suggested we stop at Congaree National Park in South Carolina. I have been in many of our National Parks but never this one. It does not have the bold colorful beauty of the Grand Canyon or the spectacular peaks of the Grand Tetons but it has its own southern dignity. The large southern swamp Cyprus is a national treasure just as special as what hails in each national park. This small national park has a nice walking path set upon a boardwalk at the park entrance which is very convenient for visitors. This was a perfect highway break that afternoon.
The beauty of our country and all our fifty states is protected by our national parks. Thank goodness for our forefathers who saw the light of day and were able to set aside beautiful places to be used and preserved by the people forever. I feel the same about state parks. Camping, fishing, hiking, and viewing nature: there is something for all our citizens. Nature brings out the best in us.
Over the years I have been to a large portion of the National Parks in the US and many in foreign countries. Parks are popular in summer but I enjoy going to them in any season. There is so much to do and nature to observe.
In the spring the rivers and streams have enormous energy. I remember on my climb on Aconcagua in Argentina camping with my guide only a few feet away from a raging river descending hundreds of feet from a massif. Rocks, some as big as cars, were sent plummeting and grinding down this raging runoff caused by the melting of snow and ice, eventually ending up in the sea.
Fall is a beautiful time for day hikes in the state parks of New England. One of my favorites is the Gulf Hagas Trail in Maine. It follows a river with its many waterfalls. Just listening to the rushing water go over the falls, and catching glimpses of the water where the rays of sunshine are dancing like diamonds on top of the water, are reasons enough to be there. To top it off, the crisp fall air and all the beauty of the fall foliage makes hiking grand in the fall.
Winter in a park is so quiet and serene on a clear fair day especially after a recent snowstorm. Everything is so pure and clean. Snowshoeing or cross country skiing is a physical activity and a nice meal over a campfire is a great reward.
Summer in state and national parks is the busy season but offers great adventure in the safest weather conditions. I have camped in all seasons but family camping with young children is best in the summer. In Australia summer is too hot of course in certain places like Alice Springs; even in winter it is warm there.
In the summer of 1966, I joined a family of five and we spent three months touring the United States, camping in many national parks and some state parks. I had just graduated from college and this was the first big travel adventure of my life. We traveled in a station wagon, setting up tents and blowing up our sleeping pads every night. Everyone thought it was quite special–even the family dog.
I suggest that you take time to enjoy our parks. They are grand in all four seasons.
-June 3, 2014