The Great American Wilderness: Touring America's National Parks
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by Larry H. Ludmer
Description: Fifty of the nation's most spectacular parks covered in staggering detail. From Acadia to Yellowstone, these parks have been selected as the most scenic in the US. And Larry Ludmer tells you everything you need to know about them. Candid evaluations steer you to the best sections of each park, including those hidden sections rarely visited by the mass of people in summer. Ludmer offers valuable tips on how to avoid the crowds (by visiting early in the morning, mid-week), where to take lunch (deserted backcountry areas), and how to stretch your dollar (park passes and deals). You'll also learn about driving routes to and from each park, with suggested places to stay just outside the entrance. Inside, the book reveals the best walking tours and scenic drives, telling you what you must see and what you can afford to miss.
eBook Publisher: Hunter Publishing, Inc./Hunter, 2006 US
eBookwise Release Date: December 2008
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [568 KB]
Reading time: 328-459 min.
Describes 53 parks in depth, giving advice on planning your time--vital when it comes to setting priorities. Invaluable.--Physician's Travel & Meeting Guide This is a straight-talking author who reminds me of a smart, blunt friend... no pussyfooting around.--The Armchair Traveler, Daily Herald Although it does not include every site administered by the NPS, this book is very thorough in its treatment of the 50 parks it covers. The author also describes 13 suggested driving trips of five to 12 days each, incorporating nearby attractions. Includes detailed information on accommodations/campgrounds, activities available in each park, handy tips and tidbits, maps and photos. A great travel reference book! (Maxye Henry--Amazon.com) Touring America's national parks has become a passtime for me. I've been from Acadia to the North Cascades to the Grand Canyon and this book is an excellent reference. With an emphasis on travelling via automobile, it also has several suggested hiking trips in each park as well as other points of interest. They say that most people never get more than 100 feet from their cars in parks. Well, this is the book to help get you there, and point out the best routes outside of your car. It covers more territory than anyone could possibly see in a lifetime...but it's sure fun to try. (Amazon.com)
One of America's greatest treasures is the diverse beauty that nature has bestowed upon the its landscape. While many parts of the world may contain majestic mountains, eye-popping geological phenomena, rushing waterfalls, and more, nowhere is there a greater variety or concentration of such wonders as in the United States. The very best of these have been set aside in parks, monuments, and other special areas administered by the National Park Service. They are truly the crown jewels of America. The national parks have been created to be seen, felt, touched and enjoyed by everyone.
And that is precisely what this book is about: seeing and enjoying nature at its most inspiring, its most unusual, and its most powerful. Nearly 400 separate areas are administered by the National Park Service, a great many of which are dedicated to people, places, events or ideas that have played a significant role in the development of our nation. Since the theme of this book is the scenic treasures of America, we have selected those that seemed especially worthwhile, regardless of how "popular" they are. This eliminates, for example, many heavily visited areas whose primary attraction is miles of beachfront for frolicking in the ocean. However, a brief look at dozens of other scenic NPS sites is given in the Suggested Trips section at the end of the book.
This book assumes you will be visiting the parks by car, which eliminates some highly inaccessible locations that are generally limited to "adventure" touring. While almost all of the places described in this book can satisfy the desires of the most ardent adventure traveler, they also appeal to a much broader public.
Most of the existing books on our nation's scenic areas may describe park features in exquisite detail, but they don't really tell you how to see what has been described. It also seems that most books are aimed at people who will be spending a great deal of time hiking and camping in the back-country. Admittedly, this is the best way to see what the parks have to offer, but the reality is that many thousands of people have neither the time nor the inclination to "rough it" in the wilderness; or they may have physical limitations. The primary goal of this book is to show how to make the most out of your time in the park, detailing those highlights that should not be missed even if you can't spend days trekking through the back-country or hiding in a blind with binoculars waiting for a rare bird to appear.
The National Park Service has designated the areas it administers as National Parks, National Monuments, Recreation Areas, and so forth. (Actually, Congress is the only body that can designate an area as a National Park.) Frequently, but not always, national parks are large, famous, and have the greatest attraction for visitors. But there are a number of "non-park" areas that are every bit as worthwhile. In this book, 53 different areas are described. Three have non-scenic aspects that were of primary importance in establishing the area, but there is enough natural beauty to be seen there to have included them in this book. Four areas aren't administered by the National Park Service at all, but their beauty is such that they had to be included. It's of little concern which agency of the government has jurisdiction when the scenery is so marvelous.
* * * *
Some people like to do things on an ad hoc basis, and there is definitely something to be said for spontaneity. But unless your time is unlimited, proper planning is essential. The longer the trip and the more you wish to accomplish during your vacation, the truer this axiom becomes.
Some major decisions should be made in advance:
* What exactly do you want to see?
* How many miles are you willing to drive and how much time do you have to spend?
* What types of accommodations will suit you?
The first and most important step in the planning process is to write down your proposed itinerary. Block off each day's activities by how long they will take, allowing enough time for driving, rest stops and meal breaks. Once you have a basic outline, it's easy to make adjustments as you secure additional information and decide that you want to add or delete an activity.
When you actually begin your trip, the itinerary serves as your travel guide, and you can always alter it as you go along.
Be sure to bring touring materials on additional sights that may be available should you find yourself running ahead of schedule with some extra time on your hands. Why not put that time to good use?
The information in this book will enable you to create an itinerary for each park. This does not mean that you will not need or want other information. One source that is a natural partner to this book is the National Park Service itself. Each park or area has a superintendent's office that will be happy to furnish you with brochures. The information they send is generally clear, concise, and extremely useful. Moreover, most Park Service literature will include an excellent map. While narrative description is important, a good map is absolutely indispensable, except perhaps for the smallest of our national parks. The maps in this guide should be used as a base to draw from. When you arrive at the park, pick up the Park Service's map, usually found at the Visitor Center. It will help you keep "on track" once your trip actually begins. You will also need adequate maps of your routes to and from the parks. AAA maps are excellent, as are many state maps that can be purchased in book or travel stores or are available from state tourism offices. Do not rely on the small maps in pocket-sized road atlases.
Look for detailed maps. The more detail on a map, both in and outside the park destinations, the easier it will be to find what you are looking for without getting lost or going far out of your way.
You also might want to consider picking up an Auto Tape Tour. These can be rented or purchased at many of the larger national parks or you can get them in advance (purchase only). The company that specializes in such tapes is CC Inc., PO Box 385, Scarsdale, NY 10583. Tapes are not available for every area.