Top 10 NPCA Picks

Top 10 NPCA Picks

 

These 10 places offer great ways to escape the crowds while enjoying unique, underappreciated natural and cultural treasures around the country. 

 

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia

This park sits at a natural opening in the Cumberland Mountains that served as one of the earliest gateways to the West for thousands of settlers traveling across the frontier.   

This park sits at a natural opening in the Cumberland Mountains that served as one of the earliest gateways to the West for thousands of settlers traveling across the frontier. 

 

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C.

Just a short walk from public transportation, this lush wetland park on the banks of the Anacostia River is an oasis of lily pads and blossoms behind the city streets.   

Just a short walk from public transportation, this lush wetland park on the banks of the Anacostia River is an oasis of lily pads and blossoms behind the city streets. 

 

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

This sunny southwestern park is part of the largest gypsum dune field in the world, with 275 square miles of shifting, glistening minerals piled together in a valley of the Chihuahuan Desert.   

This sunny southwestern park is part of the largest gypsum dune field in the world, with 275 square miles of shifting, glistening minerals piled together in a valley of the Chihuahuan Desert. 

 

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Hampshire

Visit the home of one of America’s greatest sculptors and see more than 100 works of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ art in his studios and gardens, from heroic monuments to expressive portraits to the intricate gold coins he designed, changing the look of American money.   

Visit the home of one of America’s greatest sculptors and see more than 100 works of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ art in his studios and gardens, from heroic monuments to expressive portraits to the intricate gold coins he designed, changing the look of American money. 

 

Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Hawaii

This isolated peninsula on the north coast of the island of Molokai is surrounded by sea and high cliffs—and not easy to get to.   

This isolated peninsula on the north coast of the island of Molokai is surrounded by sea and high cliffs—and not easy to get to. 

 

Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas

With its dense vegetation and diverse wildlife, Big Thicket is the perfect destination for the wild at heart.   

With its dense vegetation and diverse wildlife, Big Thicket is the perfect destination for the wild at heart. 

 

Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon

Way down in southwest Oregon, this relatively small park is easy to miss, along a winding road in the mountains and a long way from anywhere—but it’s worth seeking out.   

Way down in southwest Oregon, this relatively small park is easy to miss, along a winding road in the mountains and a long way from anywhere—but it’s worth seeking out. 

 

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

This vast Alaskan wilderness is close enough to Anchorage to be fairly accessible (by plane), yet is not as well-known as other parks in the state, such as Denali or Glacier Bay, and its wild, stunning offerings are often overlooked.   

This vast Alaskan wilderness is close enough to Anchorage to be fairly accessible (by plane), yet is not as well-known as other parks in the state, such as Denali or Glacier Bay, and its wild, stunning offerings are often overlooked. 

 

Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia

This site brings together the history of many cultures that have lived alongside the Ocmulgee River in Georgia since ancient times, featuring a trove of archaeological artifacts on display at the visitor center, a thousand-year-old earthen lodge, and seven burial and ceremonial mounds to explore.   

This site brings together the history of many cultures that have lived alongside the Ocmulgee River in Georgia since ancient times, featuring a trove of archaeological artifacts on display at the visitor center, a thousand-year-old earthen lodge, and seven burial and ceremonial mounds to explore. 

 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan.

Nestled along Lake Superior’s southern shoreline on the Upper Peninsula, this remote park is a geologic wonder of colorful sandstone cliffs topped with stately pines, and miles of quiet, unspoiled beaches strewn with agate, jasper, and quartz.   

Nestled along Lake Superior’s southern shoreline on the Upper Peninsula, this remote park is a geologic wonder of colorful sandstone cliffs topped with stately pines, and miles of quiet, unspoiled beaches strewn with agate, jasper, and quartz. 

 

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