Camping at National Parks
Many US National Parks welcome RV camping as well as pop-up trailers and tents. Some sites offer electricity, bathrooms, laundry facilities and other amenities. Assateague Island National Park in Maryland has oceanside and bayside campsites for tents, RVs and trailers on the Assateague Island National Seashore. Yosemite National Park is popular for camping, too. With seven different campgrounds inside the park, guests can choose from a variety of environments that may be secluded, wooded, with waterfalls, by streams, ponds or lakes. Every National Park defines its own procedures for reserving and paying for campsites. In the winter, many campsites close. Be sure to consult the ranger’s office of the park you plan to visit before planning to camp there. Ask about Bureau of Land Management campsites, which are primitive, undeveloped areas where campsites are free, with no amenities.
Hunting at National Parks
As of 2010, 69 National Parks allow for hunting, under strict regulation. At Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Park, hunters are important for keeping down deer and wild hog populations. Every year the park has organized hunts and participants must adhere to licensing requirements, make reservations and follow the specific weaponry restrictions for each hunt. The Mojave National Preserve allows for the hunting of “quail, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife” in the fall. Hunters are to abide by the regulations set forth by the California Department of Fish & Game which requires licensing and vehicle tags.
Hiking in National Parks
Most parks have hiking trails, but some are more remarkable than others. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a designated Federal Wilderness Area in Idaho. Once the site of a massive volcanic eruption, hikers here are welcome to walk through underground lava tube caves where the damp, cold and icy darkness is a stark contrast to the dry scorching heat above. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is over 2,000 miles long and leads hikers through 14 states. In Virginia, hikers cross the James River Foot Bridge that’s over 600 feet long.
Swimming at National Parks
Simultaneously therapeutic and refreshing, swimming is a popular recreation activity that’s available in several National Parks. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park in Kalaoa, Hawaii, gives visitors an opportunity to swim and snorkel with giant sea turtles, colorful fish, seaweed and wetland birds in a tropical lagoon. There are no lifeguards here, so swimmers must be aware of tidal fluctuations and posted jellyfish warnings, when applicable. Another park that offers swimming is Texas’ Amistad National Recreation Area, where water temperatures in the summer can reach 86 degrees. Swimmers can play on the beaches of the lake, or swim from anchored boats.
Horesback Riding at National Parks
National parks that allow horseback rides provide visitors with an exceptionally rare experience. Galloping through a meadow or trotting along a lakeside trail, riding a horse through the untouched land of a National Park is surely a thrilling activity. Riders are welcome at the Bryce Canton National Park in Utah, where remarkable stone structured have been formed by years of wind erosion. It’s been called a “forest of stone.” Local tour providers rent horses and lead horseback tours in Bryce Canyon. Shenandoah National Park allows horseback riding on over 180 miles of trails. Visitors may bring their own horse or schedule a guided trail ride with a horse who has experience with the terrain, which can be narrow, rocky and steep in places.