Summertime to us means popsicles, swimming holes, road trips, and national park adventures! One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be hot in most places, so we’ve compiled a list of 5 cool national parks for you to visit during summer vacation. Please remember to plan ahead before visiting, and leave the parklands you explore better than you found them. Pack up the car and let’s hit the road!
Biscayne National Park, Florida
Okay, so this one is going to be a little warmer, but trust us, it’s worth it! Biscayne National Park is roughly 95% water, so cooling off is easy. Here, visitors can canoe the shallow waters of the mangrove-covered shorelines, scuba dive along the Maritime Heritage Trail (be sure and explore the park’s 6 mapped shipwrecks while you’re down there), learn the park’s rich history on a guided tour, or simply unwind on the nearby beach. With Miami being so close by, you can spend a day in the park and grab dinner in the city. However you spend your time here, be sure to bring sun protection!
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon:
Crater Lake National Park is home to one of the world’s deepest, clearest, and bluest lakes and offers visitors looking to escape the heat a chance to swim in its clear, crisp waters. If you’re looking to get your feet wet, take the Cleetwood Cove Trail, the only legal access to the shore (be warned, this water is cold—average water temperature hovers around 57 degrees fahrenheit). Be prepared to see others while you’re there, as summer is the most popular time of the year to visit the park. Remember to pack your patience and have a plan b if it gets too crowded at one location.
Glacier National Park, Montana:
Called the “Crown of the Continent”, Glacier National Park is truly a gem. With spectacular valleys, beautiful drives, towering mountains, and dazzling lakes, there’s something in this expansive park for everyone. There are over 700 miles of trails within Glacier, so build in enough time to explore—we recommend Avalanche Lake, Grinnell Lake, and Hidden Lake. While visiting, be sure to take a drive on the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road (vehicle reservations are required).
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Located in Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is an archipelago of over 450 islands and is a great place to explore Michigan’s wilderness. Open to the public from mid April to late October, this remote national park is only accessible by ferry and seaplane. The main island, Isle Royale, is 50 miles long and 9 miles across, criss-crossed with hiking trails and dotted with campgrounds. Things to do on the island include fishing, hiking, scuba diving, canoe/kayaking, or tag along on a guided tour. Planning a trip can be daunting, so be sure to check out the park’s First Timer's visitor guide.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska:
Want to visit a winter wonderland in the middle of summer? Kenai Fjords National Park is the place to be! Roughly 50% of the park is covered in ice and protects the Harding Icefield, one of the largest icefields located within the United States. The park is located just outside of the Alaskan town of Seward, and is about two and a half hours from Anchorage. While there is one main road within the park, accessing much of it requires a boat or plane. Be sure to pack your camera and binoculars, as this park has fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. Expect to see bears, wolves, sea lions, orcas, humpback whales, bald eagles, puffins and other fantastic animals.
Summertime in many places around the country means one thing—it’s hot! Planning a national park trip to beat the heat? Check out these 5 cool national parks!