Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hectic Short Trip RVing

RV Security In Storage And On The Road

Because I live in the city, I can’t store my KZ Spree anywhere on my property or on the street. So like a lot of city dwellers I have to put my RV in storage when I am not using it.  To my shock and amazement, two units were stolen right out of the storage lot.  To add insult to injury the storage lot had a guard on site and had a security system for entrance and cameras.  But the same guy managed to get two units out of the locked lot.  Well thanks to the cameras they caught the guy.  But what can you and I do to make our units harder to steal and more secure.  Lets look.

First we can add a lock to the ball area of a TT and a 5th Wheel Hitch Lock. Let’s look at both.  The TT ball lock looks like below.

 
  • One size fits all (from 1-7/8″, 2″, to 2-5/15″, all coupler types)
  • Key hole cover slides up to seal out dirt and grime
  • Type A key which is a spring loaded, 7 pin, high security key. Resists attempted drill outs. Rugged and durable, the key will not bend or break.
  • Huge 6 tooth, 3/8″ dual ratchet locking system
  • Hardened 5/8″ 16mm steel shackle


Now that should slow down anyone trying to take the TT quickly.  Now lets look at what can be done to slow down the would be thief stealing a 5er.  See below for the 5th Wheel Anti Theft device
 
5th Wheel Anti Theft device
This unit slides over the hitch pin and prevents the hitch pin from being attached to by the hitch receiver. Simple but effective to slow down our would be thief.
I think we could do more. How about we lock the tires so the RV can not be moved without putting new tires on the RV? Shown below is a RV Dual Wheel Stop with Padlock
 RV Dual Wheel Stop with Padlock

 
  • Secures tandem tires to prevent movement while parked or re-hitching
  • Fits 26″ to 30″ diameter tires with tire spacing of 3-1/2″ to 5-1/2″
  • Includes padlock
  • Easy grip handle for easy installation
  • Lightweight and durable


This should slow them up but what about something even better?  Lets look at the X Wheel Stop with Padlock.

 X Wheel Stop with Padlock.

 
While the lock for this heavy duty unit is extra (a Master Lock, that you supply) it will be well worth it, if it slows down someone trying to take your RV.
We have protected (to the best of our ability) someone trying to take your RV but what about protecting the expensive stuff inside the RV and in the storage bay.  Let’s take a look on how to help protect those areas.
First the entrance doors.  Did you know that the key to your RV has been duplicated many times by the manufacture of your RV?  Did you know that almost thief can come up with a key that fits your RV doors?
So let’s look at a lock that is a bit safer. The Keyless RV Door Lock
Keyless RV Door Lock

  • No wiring needed; uses 4 AA batteries (not included) It’s retrofittable in most RV entry doors and it’s easy to install Programmable with a 4 digit PIN number The large buttons are easy to see and use Proximity sensing which illuminates the buttons
  • Self-contained electronic RV latch with Capacitive Touch Technology
  • Offers hassle free touch pad access: no key or fob to carry with you
  • An integral touch pad to the latch which controls the dead bolt
  • Deadbolt key will always be able to operate the paddle or dead bolt lock in case of the user forgetting the code or having a dead battery, 8 inch x 5 inch x 4 inch
You don’t even need a key to get this lock to open, after you enter your personal pin number.  So it will not be a big deal if you lock your keys in the RV.
Lets take a look at the outside storage compartment locks.  Did you know thats the lock code for your storage compartment lock is CH751?  This is the most common lock used on TT and 5th wheels today.  So anyone can get in. Let’s look at a better idea. The RV Storage Compartment Combi Lock.
RV Storage Compartment Combi Lock
  • Cylinder length 1-1/8″” – accommodates material thickness up to 7/8″ thick
  • Durable solid metal
  • 1,000 possible combinations- set own code
  • Retrofits any standard cam lock
  • Comes with 3/4″ prong washer, 1-1/2″ offset cam, 3/4″ straight cam, 1-1/2″ straight cam and a 90 degree stop.



This type of lock is a direct replacement to what comes on most TTs and 5ers. You take off the old one and measure the hole opening and the length of the shaft and order the same size as the one you have.

 

Follow the installation instructions and your done. A really simple install.

Here is a great list of simple and very inexpensive (compared to having it stolen) All of these items should be available from your local rv parts dealers or amazon. So put a bite into crime and be smart, I have used these types of items for years and never had any issue with any of my rv’s.

RV Daily Tips Issue 482. September 30, 2014 | RV Travel

Don’t let this be you there is an old sating “Pay me now or pay me later” and this saying goes with all things we own today, so put the work in up front and save big on the back end.

 

Grow mushrooms in your RV? Best to keep water out of your rig

by Russ and Tiña De Maris
Face it: RV maintenance does mean work. For many RVers, this means an exercise in do-it-yourself. Happily, most of this maintenance is not out of the realm of the self-doer and, when kept up, is not expensive. 
While allowing some things to “slide” or fall into the category of deferred maintenance makes for simple inconvenience, other stuff you “let go” can lead to a disaster. In the latter area, you simply can’t afford to let up on keeping moisture at bay. A leaky door or window seal isn’t just inconvenient: It can destroy your RV in a hurry.
One RVer opened the door of his stored-in-Washington fifth wheel only to find a crop of mushrooms growing in the middle of his living room floor. It seems the sealant around the door had given up its job, allowing the perennial rains to soak the carpet.
Upstairs in the bedroom, a sealant problem in a bit of corner trim had allowed moisture intrusion and while not growing mushrooms, the wall near the bed was coated with black mold. Some molds are toxic and their inhaled spores can cause serious health problems.
After considering the age and overall condition of the rig, the new “RV farmer” decided it was time to scrap the old fifth wheel after many years of otherwise-happy service — a financial and emotional loss, all due to water intrusion.
Water leakage damage doesn’t end with molds and mushrooms. Many RVs have framing members and paneling constructed with wood. Penetrating water leads to dry rot, and dry rot to structural failure. Repairing dry rot is often out of the expertise of the do-it-yourselfer, and RV repair facilities charge a horrendous amount for dry rot repair — if it can even be done.
Prevention is the only sure answer. Inspect your RV roof annually — more often is better. Check for damage to the roof and failure of sealing material around anything that penetrates the roof: skylights, plumbing vents, TV antennas. Many RVers do follow-through on roof inspection but fail to keep up with sealants around windows and doors. RV manufacturers list periodic maintenance of window and door sealants as a requirement to keep your warranty valid. If you’re not sure about how often you should pop the windows and doors to reseal them, check with your RV’s manufacturer.
Keep the water out — you’ll be a much happier camper.

30 Amazing Things I`d Buy If I Were Rich.

I am sure none of these will happen to me unless I hit the lottery, but it is fun to see how some can spend their money. See which ones you like best??

30 Amazing Things I’d Buy If I Were Rich.

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does make it easier to have the house of your dreams, filled with creative and imaginative things that you wanted for yourself. We all have plans for any extra money we may have, for me – these are just the kind of things I’d buy if I got my hands on a big sum of cash. For instance…

A scenic backyard rain shower for a natural experience.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
This mystery-house bookshelf that opens up…
things to buy when I'm rich

To another room…
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A four sided Lego wall with unlimited potential for creativity 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A beautiful fireplace that serves both the bathtub and bedroom 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A huge backyard treehouse with patio and balcony 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
An actual creek that flows peacefully under the house 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
This ultra secret bedroom closet waterslide that leads to a luxurious indoor pool 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A swimming pool that doubles as a home theater 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
Your own mini-golf course & putting range nestled between rooms 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A kitchen trap door, leading to a huge underground wine cellar 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A gigantic two story closet for your infinite collection of fashion.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
This multi-layered, family-sized pool and beachhouse so you can throw the best pool parties in the whole town 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
These fun, space-saving guest bunks 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A staircase that doubles as a slide for the kids 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A quiet reflection pond and comfy hammock.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
An intricate, gravity defying cat transit system 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A treehouse themed kid’s room, where the bed is burrowed in the treehouse 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
These useful, discreet vacuum baseboards 
things to buy when I'm rich
 
Accordion windows that transform a boring kitchen into an outdoor patio bar.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
Or kitchen walls that lift up to reveal the swimming pool.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A relaxing ceiling hammock for lazy naps.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
This summer-ready swim-up bar and grill.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A three-story climbing wall built into the stairwell.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
This amazing, space saving bookshelf for your office.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A small, cozy reading nook under the stairs for quiet afternoons.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
A secret agent-like popup garage that you’ll show off to every guest.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
An enormous, luxurious waterfall shower & bath.
things to buy when I'm rich
 
Or a secret playroom with a hidden, kid sized entrance.
things to buy when I'm rich

 

19 Places Any Hiker Needs to Visit

Hiking Routes So Incredible They Almost Look Fake

Whether you’re an experienced hiker, a casual hiker, or just love amazing places, these 19 spots are a must-see! These photos were taken from some of the most famous hiking trails, showing you exactly how they gained their fame.

1. Fitz Roy Trek, Patagonia, Argentina

This spectacular view was taken at Fitz Roy, located near El Chaltén village, in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile. Discovered in 1877 and named after Robert Fitzroy, a ship captain that sailed up the Santa Cruz River and charted much of the area in Patagonia.

Hiking

i.imgur.com

2. Bay of Fires, Tasmania, Australia

Part of Mount William National Park, the Bay of Fires got its name when captain Tobias Furneaux sailed by the shores and saw many fires, lit by the aboriginal people.

Hiking

extendcreative.com

3. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii, United States

This trail is known as one of the most dangerous trails in the world, as well as one of the most beautiful. It snakes through the Nā Pali Coast of the island of Kauai. While expert hikers can trek this trail in a day, the average hiker will need 2-3 days to complete it.

Hiking

www.redesignrevolution.com

4. Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

One of the most famous locations in the United States, the Grand Canyon was carved out by the Colorado River for countless millennia to produce the amazing result that is the Grand Canyon. Be warned though, the trail can be quite perilous, and claims the lives of dozens every year due to overheating and overexertion, so take it slow and keep hydrated.

Hiking

www.mostamazingwonders.com

5. West Coast Trail, British Columbia, Canada

Originally built in 1907 as a rescue route for survivors of shipwrecks from the treacherous “Graveyard of the Pacific”, it is now one of Canada’s most amazing hiking trails, studded with waterfalls, greenery and climbing ladders, making it a most exciting and rewarding hike.

Hiking

www.traildino.com

6. Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Simien Mountains National Park is the home of several unique & endangered animals. It resides in the northern region of Ethiopia, and home of Ethiopia’s highest point. 

Hiking

www.photosbymartin.com

7. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Considered to be one of the best trails in the world, the Annapurna Circuit takes between 17 to 21 days to complete, with endless breathtaking views of the mountains of Nepal, as well as passing through local villages, allowing you to experience the local culture.

Hiking

upload.wikimedia.org

8. Polar Route, Greenland

Considered a relatively easy route, the Polar Route (also known as the Arctic Trail) is one of Greenland’s most famous hiking trails. Greenland is the size of Western Europe, yet, its population is so small and located in few cities, it leaves the majority of the country pristine and untouched, with raw beauty at every corner.

Hiking

greenlandtoursfrance.files.wordpress.com

9. Tonquin Valley, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada

Located in the Jasper National Park, Canada, Tonquin Valley is located on the continental divide. While the valley has 2 routes through hit, only one is used as the other has been rendered unusable due to years of neglect. The valley offers spectacular views of the Amethyst and Moat lakes, as well as the spectacular Canadian Rockies.

Hiking

 st.gdefon.com

10. Sarek National Park, Sweden

Not one for beginners, the Sarek National Park is still a spectacular hiking spot, none the less! It is located in the Lapland region of Northern Sweden, one of the rainiest regions in the country.  But if weather conditions are good, you’ll get to see spectacular views of ancient glaciers, untouched mountains, streams and grasslands.

Hiking

images6.fanpop.com

11. Yoshida Trail, Mount Fuji, Japan

Japan’s most famous mountain offers incredible routes, some very easy while others can challenge even the most experienced hikers. With the Fuji 5 Lakes a short distance away, you’re bound to find beauty all along the trail. (I recommend visiting during the blossoming of the cherry trees)

Hiking

www.earthrandom.com

12. Yosemite Grand Traverse, California, United States

A spectacular 8-day hike in the Yosemite National Park, the Grand Traverse enjoys granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams and Giant Sequoia groves, as well as a plethora of wildlife – making each hike an amazing and almost unique experience.

Hiking

www.noroads.com.au

13. Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile

You’ll find this trail at the south of Chile, in the Torres del Paine national park. Arguably the most amazing views can be seen while hiking the circuit. With blue glaciers, wonderfully tall granite walls, glacial lakes and occasional groups of llamas, the trek has left many-a-hiker begging for more time.

Hiking

dailyinspires.com

14. Israel National Trail, Israel

A 600 mile hike from the northern-most part of Israel, to the Red sea at the south, the trail goes through various environments, from Mediterranean hills, through the Sea of Galilee, the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, streams, and the Judean Desert. You’ll find ancient ruins from biblical times alongside modern facilities.

Hiking

www.flickr.com

15. Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand

Well established and maintained, the track takes 3-5 days by foot, or 13 hours by bicycle. With many campsites, as well as private accommodations, you’ll never find yourself with no place to stay in the night.  You’ll find this dazzling track on the northern part of New-Zealand’s southern Island.

Hiking

www.rankers.co.nz

16. Haute Route, France-Switzerland

Charted in the 19th century by British mountaineers, it takes 12 days to track (or 7 days to ski), with many small inns and hotels in villages along it route, as well as mountain huts for travelers, this European trail might not be the easiest, but it’s worth the effort.

Hiking

rampay.com

17. Cordillera Apolobamba, Bolivia

Considered to be the best trail in Bolivia, the track travels through the southern Cordillera Apolobamba, passing through local traditional villages where travelers can stop and experience the local lifestyle (don’t take photos without asking for permission from the locals), and can be completed in about 5 days.

Hiking

aac-publications.s3.amazonaws.com

18. Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia

Ever wanted to track through an active volcano? Gunung Rinjani is where you need to go! The top of the volcano is partially filled by a lake, with a few hot-springs as well. The locals consider the mountaintop to be sacred and religious activities are not uncommon along the caldera.

Hiking

hms27010yulis.files.wordpress.com

19. Zion Narrows, Utah, United States

Ranked as #5 in National Geographic’s top 100 places to see in America, the Narrows are probably the premier location on the Colorado plateau. The Virgin River runs along the Narrows, in most places spanning from wall to wall. Hiking gets wet, with some sections having waist-high water and few sections might even require you to swim, so bring your bathing suits! 

Hiking

 

▶ RVer\\\’s campsite model railroad keeps campers smiling – YouTube

▶ RVer\\’s campsite model railroad keeps campers smiling – YouTube

via ▶ RVer\\\’s campsite model railroad keeps campers smiling – YouTube.

This is just so cool that someone would take the time for the enjoyment of others, thanks for your work.

How to Handle a Tire Blowout in Your RV – YouTube#t=476

How to Handle a Tire Blowout in Your RV – YouTube#t=476

via How to Handle a Tire Blowout in Your RV – YouTube#t=476.

Great safe driving  video that all drivers and passengers should watch

 

Best Fall Foliage – Colorado, Michigan, Aspen, Vermont, New Mexico – AARP#slide1#slide1#slide1#slide1#slide1

Best Fall Foliage – Colorado, Michigan, Aspen, Vermont, New Mexico – AARP#slide1#slide1#slide1#slide1#slide1

via Best Fall Foliage – Colorado, Michigan, Aspen, Vermont, New Mexico – AARP#slide1#slide1#slide1#slide1#slide1.

It is that time of year again so instead of hiding inside get outside while you can and see the great colors of your area

Mount-n-Lock™ Camper & RV Bumpers, Cargo Carrier Trays and Accessories

Mount-n-Lock™ Camper & RV Bumpers, Cargo Carrier Trays and Accessories

via Mount-n-Lock™ Camper & RV Bumpers, Cargo Carrier Trays and Accessories.

This look looks a great product that can help many a rver with their need for more safe storage around their rv. Take a look and see if this works for you

Top Luxury RV Resorts and Parks: When $$ is No Object

Amazing Luxury RV Resorts and Parks

*Be sure to click the images below to make them larger.

luxury-rv-resorts-parks-polstonPolson Motorcoach & RV Resort – You wont find many luxury RV resorts in Montana, but Polson can go toe to toe with any on this list. Nestled in the middle of the Flathead Lake area of Montana, you get to enjoy incredible views of Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains behind it. When you are ready for a little adventure you can visit the close by Glacier Park or or the National Bison Range.  Located at 200 Irvine Flats Road Polson, MT


luxury-rv-resorts-parks-bluewater

BlueWater Key RV Resort – This is one of the few non-profit luxury RV resorts in existence. You will find Blue Water Key RV Resort about 10 miles from Key West with incredible views and first class amenities. All of the sites here are privately owned but when they are not in use they are made available for guests. They offer canal, waterfront, and off water sites at different rates. Perhaps some of the best views you can find at a luxury RV resort. Located at 950 US Hwy Key West, FL


luxury-rv-resorts-parks-bellaBella Terra of Gulf Shores RV Resort – This is a newer development that is only a few minutes from the beaches of the Alabama gulf coast. This luxury RV resort is an upscale community for RV owners with the best of tastes.  You will find a 6000 square foot clubhouse, fully stocked lake, multiple pools, bocce ball courts, shuffle board, and putting greens. Located at 101 Viabella Terra Foley, Alabama


luxury-rv-resorts-parks-hearthside

Hearthside Grove RV Park – You will find this resort in northwest area of Michigan. It offers a luxurious balance between amenities and nature. You will find oversized lots, 5 star landscaping, bungalow site buildings, outdoor bbq, fire pits, and pools. You also have a concierge at your disposal. Located at 2400 US 31 North Petoskey, Michigan


luxury-rv-resorts-parks-vines

Vines RV Resort – Looking for luxury RV resorts in wine country? Look no further. This resort can be found on the central coast of California. Amenities include dog parks, spa-like pools, dozens of wineries close by, and an upscale Antebellum Colonial setting. Located at 88 Wellsona Road Paso Robles, CA


luxury-rv-parks-laurelpond

Laurel Pond Luxury Wildnerness RV Park – For those who enjoy more nature inspired luxury RV resorts there is the Laurel Pond Wilderness Park. 71 acres of  natural forest awaits you with a fishing pond and full hotel-like services such as tours, shuttles, concierge and other activities. This is one of the luxury RV resorts that has something special for the kids (or kid in you) with a Six Flags just 2 minutes away. Located at 720 Monmouth Rd Cream Ridge, NJ


luxury-rv-parks-newportNewport Dunes RV Park – If you are looking for luxury RV resorts and parks in southern California then it is hard to ignore the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina. With over a mile of beachfront property, it is one of the most scenic on our list. You can rent sailboats, kayak, watch movies outdoors, any maybe catch one of the cardboard boat races. Located at 1131 Back Bay Drive Newport Beach, CA


luxury-rv-parks-solsticeSolstice Motorcoach RV Resort – This luxury RV resort and RV park is one of the top destinations in the southwest US. You have many casinos nearby as well as spas. You are only a day trip away from the fun of Las Vegas. Amenities include onsite activities directors, pet parks, trails for walking, and immaculate grounds. Located at 345 Terrace View, Mesquite, NV 89027


luxury-rv-parks-heritageHeritage Motorcoach Resort and Marina – You will find this gem halfway between Pensacola, FL and Orange Beach, AL.  They offer a private marina with access to the Gulf of Mexico. The property has 340 feet of shoreline to explore. With stunning landscaping, infinity pool, and 2nd story fire pit overlooking the Gulf, this is one of those luxury RV resorts worth adding to the bucket list.Located at28888 Canal Road Orange Beach, AL


luxury-rv-parks-motorcoachcountryclub

Motorcoach Country Club – In the Palm Springs area of California you can find this luxury RV resort. It offers a private golf course, 3 tennis courts, fitness center with water aerobics, private docks, and the Yacht Club with a private lounge over a billiard room. Not to mention the incredible attention to detail built out on every site. Located at 80-501 Avenue 48 Indio, CA


luxury-rv-parks-mountainviewsMountain Views RV Park –  This RV resort is in the San Juan mountains in southern Colorado. The park actually runs along the Rio Grande River. The park offers a beautiful setting and first in class amenities such as gaming tables, table tennis, stocked ponds, fly fishing, padde boats, croquet, badminton, fitness classes, ATV adventures and more.  Located at 539 Airport Road Creede, CO


luxury-rv-parks-bayharborPetoskey RV Resort – Found in the beautiful town of Bay Harbor, Michigan, this is one of the northern most luxury RV resorts on our list. You can enjoy their outdoor spa, grab a cocktail in the clubhouse, play cards in one of their card room, or take a stroll on their walking paths. Then relax in their state of the art sauna, watch a movie at the home theater, test your skill on the putting green, or pay a little tennis.  Located at 5505 Charlevoix Ave Bay Harbor, MI


luxury-rv-parks-naplesNaples Motorcoach Resort – This is one of two luxury RV resorts by Signature Resorts. Along with Bay Harbor Motorcoach resort, this Naples based resort offers the same first class style and grounds. The amenities shift for Florida living to include a boat ramp with access to the Gulf, boat storage, coach cottages, bath houses, infinity pools, and 3 outdoor spas. It spans over 15 acres in one of the most sought after locations in Florida. Located at 13300 Tamiami Trail E‎ Naples, FL


luxury-rv-parks-zion

Zion River Resort and RV Park – at this self proclaimed “green valley oasis” in southwestern Utah, you will find a first class luxury RV resort beside the Virgin River, with a backdrop of breathtaking mountains. Close by you will find the Zion National Park, Grand Canyon North Rim, and the Kolob Reservoir. Here you can find some of the most scenic hiking in the southwest, while staying in the lap of luxury. Located at 551 E State Route 9, Virgin, UT


luxury-rv-parks-strosaSt. Rosa Sound RV Resort – At the private white sand beach of St.Rosa you will find one of the more unique luxury RV resorts. The location is perfect being situated near Destin, FL and Pensacola, FL. This luxury RV resort is just one mile from the award winning beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Here you can take a dip in the waterfront pool, enjoy the private beach, ride your bikes, charter a boat, scuba dive, or go snorkeling. Located at 8315 Navarre Parkway Navarre, Florida


luxury-rv-parks-lvmLVM Resort – What really needs to be said about luxury RV resorts and parks near Las Vegas, NV? Aside from the fun to be had on the strip, this park offers some of the most well kept grounds and amenities that Las Vegas has to offer. This is a 41 acre resort with over a thousand palm trees and 400 RV sites.  The LVM resort has a 10,000 square foot clubhouse with whirlpools and tanning. If you don’t feel like cooking you could always head over to their on site restaurant for quick bite.  Perhaps after a day trip to the nearby Hoover Dam? Located at 8175 Arville St Las Vegas, NV

America\’s 20 best national parks – Telegraph

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America’s 20 best national parks

From the geysers of Yellowstone to the isolation of Isle Royale, here are 20 US national parks that should be on the must-visit list

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Almost a century ago, there were no guidelines for creating a national park, because nothing like them existed anywhere in the world. It was generally agreed that the pristine nature of the United States should be preserved for posterity, as well as for conservation reasons – but how? Different states had different rules. Here cattle grazed, there elk were hunted and somewhere else trees were felled for lumber.

Great minds tussled over the issue, all with an eye on Niagara Falls which, at the turn of the 1860s, was already ravaged by commercialism. Surely Yosemite and Yellowstone shouldn’t suffer the same fate?

Yellowstone was the first national park ever to exist, designated in 1872. Its status sparked an idea that spread across the country and then across the world. National parks were spaces that human kind deemed precious and worth protecting. Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Wind Cave and Mesa Verde all gained status too, until eventually, in 1916, the National Parks System was created – one entity charged with overseeing all aspects of these wildernesses. “America’s best idea,” quipped writer Walter Stegner. “Absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

As the USA heads toward the centenary of this “best idea,” the park world hums with excitement. Next year a film of the best of the parks is planned, to be shown in IMAX cinemas around the UK. Anyone who has already stepped into any of the 59 national parks doesn’t need a reminder of their enchantment. The amazing scenery forces you to stop, forget the phone in your hand and simply say “wow.”

These are places that require you to sharpen your superlative pencil in order to describe them. Zion has the world’s largest free-standing arch. Denali protects the continent’s highest mountain. It’s the subtle things, too. Like the giant kelp forests of Channel Islands. Or the fireflies blinking in synchronicity at Great Smoky Mountains.

Here are twenty of the best National Parks, large and small – see for yourself why they’re North America’s “best idea”, for all to enjoy.

Yosemite, California

In the heart of Yosemite Valley you’ll spy more natural wonders in a minute than you will anywhere else in an entire day. California’s Yosemite sparkles as a crown jewel of the national parks, showcasing not just glacier-carved beauty but a panoply of superlatives: North America’s highest waterfall (Yosemite Falls); the world’s tallest uninterrupted granite monolith (El Capitan) and mountains that Ralph Waldo Emerson dubbed “unmatched on the globe.” It’s all that and more. Tioga Pass Road takes you into Yosemite’s high country, including Tuolumne Meadows and its fabulous hiking trails (try the short climb to the top of Pothole Dome). Glacier Point Road leads to perhaps the most spectacular vista in any national park, looking down on Yosemite Valley from 3,200 ft. Wawona, near the southern entrance, provides a starter for the famous Mariposa Grove of sky-scraping sequoias. There’s hiking, rafting, fishing, big-wall rock climbing, camping and simply lounging at the Ahwahnee Hotel, a valley-floor mainstay since 1927. Conservationist John Muir wrote about Yosemite c. 1902: “Everyone needs beauty … places to play and pray in, where Nature may … give strength to body and soul alike.” Indeed.

Top spot: Avoid Glacier Point’s crowds, but enjoy a similar view, from Sentinel Dome, an easy one-mile hike from the valley floor.

Acadia

Every morning, in the predawn darkness, a crowd gathers on Cadillac Mountain, part of Mount Desert Island along the Atlantic seaboard, peering expectantly to the east. As soon as the sun peeks over the horizon they cheer — the first in the country to see the sun’s rays. And thus begins a brand-new day at Maine’s Acadia National Park. Indeed, from its ragged shoreline and sheltered coves, to offshore rocky isles, to the serrated mountains of Mount Desert lording over swaths of pines and marshy meadows, there is much to applaud at this nearly 50,000-acre park. Twenty-mile Park Loop Road is the best way to take it all in, teetering high above the sea with spacious coastal views before careening inland through mountainous forest and meadow-carpeted valleys. Be sure to hike or bike along the park’s 57 miles of serene carriage roads — built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr, an early park proponent, to showcase the best Mount Desert vistas. Then back by the sea, take a boat cruise or, better yet, rent a kayak, to see seals sunning themselves on rocks and, if you’re lucky, whales.

Top spot: The Precipice Trail takes you up Champlain Mountain’s sheer cliff face, with rungs and ladders to grab onto. At the top are breathtaking top-of-the-mountain views of the sparkling Atlantic and Frenchman Bay.

Channel Islands, California

Though Channel Islands lies just 11 miles off the southern California coast, less than an hour away by boat, few people actually venture to this undeveloped, eight-island chain (five comprise the national park). What they’re missing: a sublime throwback to California of yore, where craggy arches, spindly spires and grassy hills jut up from the Pacific, without a car or mobile phone in sight. What makes Channel Islands even more special are its plants and animals – more than 150 endemic or unique species have earned it the nickname “North American Galapagos.” This is the only place in the world you’ll see, for example, island fox, island deer mouse and yellow-blooming coreopsis clinging to exposed cliffs. Just as amazing is the life in the surrounding waters: More than 30 species of sea animals – sea lions, elephant seals, whales – cavort about. Of special note: The largest aggregation of blue whales in the world convenes here every summer. So you can imagine the silver platter of outdoorsy activities available – kayaking through sea caves, camping on lonely bluffs, hiking to a pinniped rookery, diving to explore giant kelp beds. The list goes on and on.

Top spot: San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett is extra special for the 50,000 northern elephant seals and 70,000 California sea lions that hang out there.

Pinnacles, California

One second you’re driving along a two-lane road just two hours south of San Francisco, enjoying pretty, chaparral-carpeted hills. The next, out of nowhere, looms the sky-high castle of jagged, red-rock spikes and monoliths belonging to America’s newest national park. Upgraded from national monument to national park in 2013 due in part to its important condor recovery program, Pinnacles is little trekked and little known – one of the best reasons to visit. Its postage-stamp size, just 26,606 acres preserving ancient volcanic remnants, makes it manageable in a day. Strike out on more than 30 miles of trails ranging from easy to arduous, through fairyland forests and green valleys, past serrated spires and precariously balanced boulders, and into pitch-black, bat-inhabited talus caves (take a headlamp). Tackle its hundreds of crowd-free rock-climbing routes. And always keep an eye out for condors, those prehistoric-looking raptors with wingspans reaching up to 10 ft; their favorite haunts include High Peaks in the early morning or early evening, or along the ridge just southeast of the campground.

Top spot: Explore the park’s eponymous rock spires, best admired along the High Peaks Trail. It’s at its most beautiful March into May, when fields of California poppies, purple bush lupine, and 50-odd other species of wildflowers burst into bloom.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Nearly everyone has seen photographs of Arizona’s famous gorge, measuring a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. But nothing prepares you for its vastness, or intense beauty, as you stand on its edge, peering far, far down to the Colorado River. That snake of a river is responsible for carving the canyon’s many layers, the different colors hinting at their age; the oldest, the pink-and-white-veined granite along the bottom, dates back 1.8 billion years. Grand Canyon ranks as the second most visited national park, with some five million people every year, mostly along the South Rim. Avoid them by hiking down one of the park’s many trails on foot or by mule — even a mile or two will give you a new perspective. The flat, paved Rim Trail is the easiest, while the classic 9.3-mile Bright Angel Trail is more strenuous but worth every step (remember it’s all uphill on the way back). Or focus on the pine-forested North Rim, which receives 10 per cent of park visitors. You can also hop on a raft and admire the canyon from the bottom up; sleeping along the riverbank under the dark, starry sky will be an experience you never forget.

Top spot: Yavapai Point, near the South Rim visitor area, offers a stunning, unobstructed, up-and-down panorama of the inner canyon, Bright Angel Canyon, and Colorado River with very little effort.

Grand Canyon: Trip of a Lifetime

Denali, Alaska

Only one road accesses six-million-acre Denali, a single, mostly unpaved, 92-mile strip that opens up dramatic views of the subarctic wilderness — and perhaps offers the best chance to experience wildlife of any national park. No cars are allowed beyond Mile 15; everyone must jump aboard a shuttle bus. This is a good thing, given the road’s precipitous, winding nature (and the temptation to keep peering at the ever-more-dramatic landscape). A constant companion on the southern horizon are the massive, snowcapped peaks of the Alaska Range, topped by the surreal, 20,320-ft Denali (aka Mount McKinley), North America’s tallest mountain. Along the way, keep an eye out for sightings of the park’s “big five,” Alaska style: moose, caribou, sheep, wolf and cinnamon-color Toklat grizzlies. At the end of the road awaits loon-inhabited Wonder Lake, with stunning reflections of Denali on clear-sky days. If an all-day road trip isn’t for you, there are other ways to explore the park: hoisting a backpack for some of the best backcountry hiking anywhere; white-water rafting on the Nenana River; flightseeing around Denali itself; and, for the truly ambitious, climbing Denali’s icy slopes.

Top spot: Stony Hill Overlook, at Mile 61.95 on Denali Park Road, offers supreme photo ops of Denali from majestic base to peak, weather-permitting. Stony Hill is also the spot to see the nearby Toklat wolf pack; during migration periods, some 2,000 caribou pass through here as well.

Kenai Fjords, Alaska

From the massive Harding Icefield, huge glaciers grind their way slowly but surely to the sea, leaving behind jagged headlands, rocky peninsulas and rough-hewn fjords. Hence is born the wild setting of Alaska’s smallest national park. The best way to explore this icy wonderland is aboard a boat (or kayak) on Resurrection Bay. From your front-row seat you’ll be dazzled by smoky fjords, remote outlying islands and the chance to view blue tidewater glaciers up-close. At calving Aialik Glacier, watch huge chunks of ice plummeting into the sea. Perhaps even more bedazzling is the abundance of sealife: humpback whales, orcas, harbor seals, sea otters and Steller sea lions, to name a few local denizens. Bald eagles float along towering cliffs, and seabirds (including cute puffins) congregate by the thousands. With more time, seek out Northwestern Lagoon, quiet and serene, ideal for camping in solitary splendor. For landlubbers, the Harding Icefield Trail is a sublime walk from the face of Exit Glacier to Harding Icefield, with the chance to spot black bear along the way.

Top spot: Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, accessible only via four-hour boat ride, sits on Pedersen Lagoon in the heart of the national park, offering guided hikes, canoeing and relaxing on the porch.

Hawai’i Volcanoes, Hawaii

Watch land being born before your very eyes at Hawai`i Volcanoes, one of the world’s most volcanically active spots. Comprising two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the park stretches from the palm-fringed coastline south of Hilo to Mauna Loa’s steaming, 13,677-ft summit. Get a volcanic primer along Crater Rim Drive, which circles the oft-billowing Kīlauea caldera, passing by sulphur banks, eerie lava tubes and the very active Halema’uma’u crater, the legendary home of Pele, not the footballer, but the Hawaiian goddess of fire. The famous surface lava flows about 12 miles east, at the end of Chain of Craters Road. The park provides daily updates of where the lava is flowing — in this capricious landscape it may be a mile from the road, several miles over dicey terrain … or unreachable. At the very least, you can hear the scraping, dragging flow of the brittle, glassy lava as it makes its way to the sea; in this way, more than 500 acres of new land have been added to the Big Island since Kīlauea’s latest eruption began in 1983.

Top spot: The park isn’t all lavascape. The Kīlauea Iki Trail winds through lush native, bird-rich rain forest before descending into the still-steaming Kīlauea Iki crater.

Olympic, Washington

Triply blessed with spellbinding ecosystems, Olympic amazes with an abundance of pristine beauty. Much of the park’s landscape, whether it’s mountain, rainforest, or coastline, remains as it has for hundreds of years. Above all rises Mount Olympus, named by a British fur trader who, upon viewing the mountain at sunset in 1788, thought it could be nothing else but the dwelling place of the gods. In this innermost realm, snowcapped mountains tower more than 7,000 ft, punctuated with 11 major rivers, waterfalls, flower-laden meadows and trout-filled lakes. Then you have the damp, dripping rain forests, both Hoh and Quinault – among the nation’s finest remaining examples of temperate rain forest, thriving with more than 12 feet of rainfall a year. This mossy, ferny realm, showcasing soaring old-growth trees more than 20 stories high (some 500 years old) is so dark and wet it appears under water. Keep an eye out for the Gatton Goliath, a 295-ft Douglas-fir, as well as the resident Roosevelt elk. And then you have the Pacific coastline — 73 miles of wild, wave-battered, driftwood-strewn beaches, domain of sea lions and seals. Peek into tide pools, stroll past offshore sea stacks and watch for bald eagles and Western gulls.

Top spot: Glorious views from 5,200-ft Hurricane Ridge take in the Olympics and Strait Juan de Fuca. Among the numerous trailheads here, Hurricane Hill wanders beside alpine meadows overlooking views, views, views. Watch out for rambunctious mountain goats.

Saguaro, Arizona

Standing guard over the Sonoran Desert with uplifted arms, the saguaro cactus has been dubbed the desert monarch. With reason. Some may reach over 50 feet tall and last up to 200 years – the biggest may have 40 twisting arms. Beloved symbol of the Old West, this prickly giant is the linchpin of Saguaro National Park, which comprises two units straddling Tucson, Arizona. You’ll find the largest concentration in the park’s hotter, drier Tucson Mountain District unit, to the west of Tucson. In the Rincon Mountain District, 30 miles east, the higher, slightly wetter “high desert” environment, you may also spot white-tailed deer, javelinas, Mexican spotted owl, black bears, and, if you’re lucky, the elusive kudamundi. While the saguaro get most of the limelight, you’ll see plenty of other cactus too, including staghorn, barrel, fishhook, prickly pear and teddy bear. If you can, visit during the summer wildflower display – Mexican gold poppies kick off the show, followed by penstemons, lupines, desert marigolds and brittlebushes. The saguaros bloom late May through to June — beautiful white flowers that open at night and last for merely 24 hours.

Top spot: Drive through thick forests of saguaro along the scenic, six-mile Bajada Loop Drive, in the park’s western unit. Among several hiking trails, one leads to ancient petroglyphs.

Arches, Utah

You may be familiar with Utah’s Arches already, without having been there, as this striking park, with its 2,000-plus sandstone arches, has served as a backdrop to countless Hollywood flicks, including Indiana Jones, and Thelma & Louise and many of those starring John Wayne. Nowhere in the world will you find such a large array of natural arches, patiently whittled over the eons by water and wind. The pièce de résistance, proudly displayed on Utah license plates, is Delicate Arch — with iconic redrock that’s at its most sublime at sunset. All that said, there are more than arches here: thin fins, towers, bridges, balanced rocks, and spindly needles add to the otherworldly, high-desert sculpture garden, all with whimsical names that somehow perfectly describe them: Courthouse Towers, Parade of Elephants, and Balanced Rock are some of the favorites. Hikers wander around this stone fantasyland on short and long trails, while rock climbers rejoice in the surrounds.

Top spot: Park Avenue is a one-mile trail through a line of giant rock monoliths, looking every bit like a stony version of its New York City namesake.

Zion

In a state blessed with a profusion of national parks, Utah’s Zion — the state’s first national park and its most popular — overextends itself with orangey-red rock walls, slickrock peaks, slot canyons and hanging valleys towering more than 2,000 feet above the centerpiece Zion Canyon. This is a park to see from the bottom up, and with your pick of different trails winding up from the valley floor, this is easy to do. Songs could be sung about 5,785-ft Angels Landing, reached via a steep, arduous trail with scary drop-offs — the reward: a breathtaking aerial view up and down the sandstone canyon as if you’re flying high above. For the less adventurous, there are plenty of other choices, including the short trek to a trio of Emerald Pools, and Weeping Rock, with water seeping from the cliff like tears. Or hop in the car and drive scenic Highway 9 along the Virgin River and into the Checkerboard Mesa area, with its cracked sandstone grid. It goes without saying, with all of this rock, Zion is beloved for its big-wall climbs as well as spectacular canyoneering routes; just be sure you know what you’re doing.

Top spot: If you arrive at Canyon Overlook just as the sun begins to set, the whole canyon glows with effervescent light; it’s a short, moderate hike to the overlook.

Glacier

Given its name, you’d expect glaciers at Glacier — the Montana portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park that straddles the USA-Canada border. But there’s so much more: tiptop peaks rising abruptly from the plains, 762 turquoise alpine lakes, plunging waterfalls, a dazzling spring wildflower display — not to mention, mountain goats and grizzly bears. The world-famous, white-knuckle Going-to-the-Sun Road, the only road that penetrates deep into the park, provides 52 miles of peak-and-valley views as it teeters atop the Continental Divide, each vista more impressive than the last. Bikes are allowed in mornings and evenings. Or leave the driving to someone else and hop aboard one of the famous roll-top tour buses known as “red jammers,” dating from the 1930s. Historic wooden boats ply the park’s sapphire lake waters (guided hikes optional). And then there are the glaciers — 25 remaining active ones, including the relatively accessible Grinnell and Sperry. Some believe that Glacier’s glaciers may dwindle to a mere trickle by 2020 — consider yourself warned.

Top spot: Experience the park the way earlier visitors did, at Swiss-themed Many Glacier Hotel, with its broad verandas overlooking peak-encircled Swiftcurrent Lake; the hike to Grinnell Glacier begins near here.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt’s beloved Badlands celebrate everything the great conservationist and 26th President loved about the Wild West: spectacularly corrugated cliffs, eroded buttes, steep gullies, craggy ravines and dome-shaped hills, striped with layers of rock and sediment in magnificent shades of purple, yellow, red and orange. Indeed, in this isolated corner of North Dakota a young, spectacled Teddy showed up in 1883 to hunt bison, kicking off a love affair with the land that would influence his conservation policy as president — and that of the nation forever. In this seemingly empty, isolated landscape you’ll spot a surprising array of wildlife, most of which Roosevelt knew (and hunted), including bison, elk, deer, antelope, wild horses and the quintessentially cute prairie dogs. What he may not have known is that Badlands preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals from the Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals; remember that if you spy the skeleton of an ancient camel, three-toed horse, or sabre-toothed cat, leave it where you found it. One of the best ways to experience this special place is as Roosevelt did — on horseback. The 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail connects the north and south units of the park, with four designated campsites.

Top spot: Castle Trail provides the perfect perspective from which to enjoy the dramatically changing colors of the Badlands wall as the sun creeps across the sky.

Yellowstone

A vast volcanic playground in northwest Wyoming, Yellowstone flaunts the world’s most amazing concentration of thermal features — more than 10,000 — including mud pots, hot springs, fumaroles and, of course, geysers. Iconic Old Faithful is the most famous landmark, a cone geyser that’s actually not so faithful; it spouts every 35 to 120 minutes. But there’s more than volcanic wonder here — which is probably why in 1872 Yellowstone became the first national park, not just in the United States but in the world. The magnificent V-shaped Canyon of the Yellowstone; the grandiose peaks of the Rockies; Yellowstone Lake, North America’s highest altitude lake; and vast forests, including one of the world’s largest petrified forests, all add up to its singular majesty. And then there’s the wildlife. Nicknamed the American Serengeti, Yellowstone has the largest concentration of mammals in the continental USA, with excellent chances to see them all: grizzly and black bears, mule deer, moose, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn, to name some of the 67 species. The most abundant number of grey wolves in the Lower 48 (400 to 450), introduced in 1994–1996 after being extirpated by the 1920s, are also found here; look for them in Lamar Valley.

Top spot: Artist Point on the Grand Canyon’s south rim commands a 700-ft vista down the Yellowstone River. Between 9.45 and 10 am every day, with the right amount of sun, the bottom of the falls becomes a luminous spray that transforms into a shimmery rainbow.

Yellowstone travel guide

Isle Royale

You must truly desire solitude to strike out for Isle Royale, a remote archipelago consisting of one narrow, 45-mile-long island and more than 450 smaller isles in Lake Superior. The park gets fewer visitors in a year (18,000) than Yellowstone sees in a day (26,000-plus). First off, the only way to get here is by boat or seaplane (ferries leave from mainland ports in Michigan and Minnesota, 56 miles and 15 miles respectively). There are no roads — even bicycles aren’t allowed. There’s one place to stay —Rock Harbor Lodge. Other than that, you’re on your own, with backpack and camping gear, obliged to pack in what you need and carry out your refuse. The rewards are supreme isolation in an untamed wilderness of jagged peaks and surf-crashed shoreline. Trails winding beneath the moss-draped spruce and fir of classic boreal forest, a haven for moose and wolves. Quiet bays and inland lakes luring kayakers and anglers alike. And, in a unique twist, Isle Royale is a top draw for scuba divers. The lake bottom is littered with ships that have fallen prey to Superior’s treacherous waters, and the lake’s clarity makes them easy to explore.

Top spot: Tobin Harbor’s calm waters and scalloped shoreline is the spot for canoeists, kayakers, and nesting loons.

Rocky Mountain

Just 1.5 hours north of Denver, Rocky Mountain showcases 72 named peaks higher than 12,000 dizzying feet. No wonder they call it the “roof of the world.” Indeed, nowhere else in the United States can you access such gorgeous alpine scenery with such ease. Wildlife watching is primo as well — keep your eyes out for moose, bighorn sheep, and elk (famed for their fall rutting, when the valleys fill with their bugling cry). You probably won’t see black bear, mountain lions, or bobcats, but they’re around as well. An absolute must is a drive along 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, a twisty, winding, vertiginous route across the Continental Divide. Along the way you’ll peer out on stream-crossed valleys, forests of spruce and fir, and majestic, snowcapped peaks. The high point is an exalted 12,183 ft, deep in the heart of the alpine tundra, where tiny wildflowers, including alpine forget-me-nots, bloom tenaciously in late June or early July. Driving is fine, but to really appreciate this gorgeous scenery, get out on some of the park’s 355 miles of hiking trails, be it an easy lakeside stroll or the arduous slog up Longs Peak.

Top spot: Catch sunrise at Dream Lake; even better, snowshoe here in winter and admire the ice formations amid blessed quietude.

Rocky Mountain travel guide

Mammoth Cave

To date, more than 365 miles of passages have been charted in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave, a five-level labyrinth hidden beneath the state’s rumbled hills and hollows — and the end has yet to be found. With its concert-hall-size chambers jam-packed with lofty stone columns, snaggle-toothed icicles, shimmering draperies, frozen waterfalls and crystal-clear pools, it’s no wonder that Jules Verne, upon visiting in the 1800s, was inspired to write A Journey to the Center of the Earth. This subterranean fantasyland can’t help but to awe with its geological triumphs, but here too you’ll touch on the American story. Woodland Indians used mussel shells more than 5,000 years ago to shave gypsum off its walls; 19th-century slaves processed saltpeter; outlaws hid out; foreign visitors prioritised it in their USA Grand Tour. And if that’s not enough, you have the entire aboveground aspect of the park to explore as well: Trails wander beneath oaks and hickories, the languid Green River flows past cliffs and valleys. Seek out River Styx Spring Trail, where water spouts from the cave and enters the Green River — a surprisingly subtle hint at what lies beneath.

Top spot: The largest known room in Mammoth is Chief City, topping out at an enormous two acres. See it on the themed Historic Tour.

Great Smoky Mountains

It’s true that Great Smoky Mountains is the nation’s number one visited national park — in part because of the busy scenic highway that cuts through its middle, offering bumper-to-bumper views in summer as people drive straight through. That said, with 521,896 wild acres beckoning from beyond, there’s no excuse to get stuck in traffic. Instead, follow a quiet byway — there’s 584 miles of them — to one of the park’s many hidden corners. Perhaps an overview taking in undulating misty-blue ridges, a hiking trail wandering beneath one of the world’s finest examples of deciduous forest (simply shimmering in autumn), or any number of wooded coves or burbling streams. Chances are you’ll be the only one around. While the venerated mountain scenery is the blue-chip draw, the wildflower parade is nothing short of stupendous: More than 1600 species of flowering plants, more than any other North American national park, begins with trillium and lady’s slipper orchid in early spring and ends in fall with goldenrod, wide-leafed sunflower, and coneflower. And, if you think you’ve seen it all, seek out the synchronous fireflies in June, the only species in America that blinks in synchrony in an age-old mating ritual (reservations mandatory).

Top spot: The tower atop Clingsmans Dome is the park’s highest point: 6,643 ft. From here, the jaw-dropping mountain panorama takes in no less than seven states.

Everglades

At first glance, Florida’s Everglades does not impress. Its centerpiece is a miles-wide river at most just a few inches deep that creeps through expansive green-brown sawgrass from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. That’s not the grandeur one might expect from a national park. But take a closer look and you’ll discover that this seemingly nondescript, low-lying, subtropical land, actually comprising several different ecosystems (sawgrass prairie, junglelike hammock and mangrove swamp), is not quite so lacklustre. Here an alligator soaks in the sun, there a roseate spoonbill spans its pink wings and takes off in elegant flight. West Indian manatees frolic in a saltwater bay, and an endangered panther stalks beneath live oaks. Indeed, these million-plus acres of wetlands harbour 200 types of fish, 350 species of birds, 120 different kinds of trees and more than 1,000 kinds of plants — and that’s just for starters. Everglades was founded in 1947 to preserve this unique jumble of ecosystems, the first national park established for the sake of flora and fauna rather than geologic scenery. Drive the main 38-mile road through the park’s heart for a primer, making sure to stop along the way to hike the various trails.

Top spots: You’re virtually guaranteed to see alligators along the Anhinga Trail, along with tri-colored herons, turtles and much more. Along the nearby Gumbo Limbo Trail watch for the unusual eponymous tree; it’s also called the Tourist Tree for its peeling red bark.

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