7 Parks Recommended by the National Park Trust

Founded in 1983, National Park Trust is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to preserve parks today and develop park stewards for tomorrow. Our programs advance public parks, lands, and waters as spaces that are welcoming and accessible to every person in every community. We believe these spaces should be cared for, enjoyed by, and preserved by all for current and future generations.

There are so many amazing parks and places to discover across the country. This summer is a great opportunity to adventure to lesser-known places – spreading out the love we give to parks and amplifying their stories.

  1. Indiana Dunes National Park (IN)

With 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, 50 miles of trails, and over 15,000 acres – this park offers a lot. Visitors get to experience the iconic dunes, wetlands, prairies, rivers, and forests all in one trip. 

This park has a special place for us at the Park Trust because it is one of our most recent land projects. In 2021, we were able to help secure nine parcels of land that will be added to Indiana Dunes and the Marquette Greenway Trail. This project will enable the completion of plans to provide beach access from the park’s education center. 


2. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (MD)

Visiting this park is a great way to learn more about the heroic lives of Harriet Tubman and other Black people during slavery in the United States. With the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge next door, over 20,000 acres are available for public recreation. This refuge includes many miles of hiking, paddling, and an automobile tour. 

A great resource connected to this park is an interview with Deanna Mitchell hosted by the Park Trust’s 2022 American Park Experience Award winner and Community Engagement Specialist at Yosemite National Park, Shelton Johnson. Together, they explore the legacy of Harriet Tubman, the history of the Underground Railroad, the visitor center experience, and their own connections to the park’s history. Check out this 15-minute video here. 

3. National Mall and Memorial Parks (DC)

While this is a popular visitor destination, few think of it as part of the national park system with over 1,000 acres. Walking the monuments provides a wonderful opportunity to be outdoors and reflect on the history of the United States. Nearby is Theodore Roosevelt Island, a tremendous  forested space with three short hikes that give a sense of being removed from the city without going far. 

Starting in summer 2022, we will be bringing hundreds of military service members and their families from the DC Metro area to the National Mall to explore local parks and memorials. This experience will provide opportunities to bike along the Tidal Basin, participate in ranger-led tours of the monuments, and learn more about the land they have worked so hard to protect.

4. Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve (WA)

While traveling out west, the glitter of parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Arches is tempting. Unfortunately, a lot of other people think so too. Hidden away in Washington state is Ebey’s Landing. This historic seaside farm now offers opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and scuba diving, all in addition to the many educational sites available to explore.  

In 2018, the Park Trust preserved the 150-year-old Haller House and the land along the shoreline that connects it to Penn’s Cove. While we did not add much compared to the 19,000+ acres that make up the reserve, we ensured that a piece of the shoreline is accessible to the public and protected from future development. 

5. Bandelier National Monument (NM)

Bandelier is another hidden gem of the National Park Service. With hiking, cross country skiing, camping, and more, it is the perfect place for an adventure! Historically, it is regarded as a sacred space for many indigenous people groups and is where hardworking scientists for the Manhattan Project stayed during WWII. 

Land fragmentation is an issue of great concern for us at the Park Trust. Privately held land within or beside parks can be a source of this habitat disruption as parcels are developed. In 1996, the land's previous owner subdivided a 90-acre tract of land within Bandelier for residential use, but we were able to step in and aid efforts to keep this land wild and accessible to the public. 

6. Canaveral National Seashore (FL)

Canaveral National Seashore, also known as Cape Canaveral, is most famous as a spot to watch rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center. We love this ocean-front seashore as it is a great place to explore, especially with its opportunities to do things like hike, fish, and kayak. 

Another reason why we recommend this park is because some of our fantastic College Ambassadors from the University of Central Florida (UCF) are visiting this national seashore to host a fishing trip for students at their school with a limited background exploring the outdoors. It is important to us that people of diverse backgrounds and life experiences have the opportunity to access and feel comfortable in their local park spaces. 

7. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (WY, MT)

Bighorn Canyon offers many opportunities for adventure. This recreation area has something for everyone, whether you enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, bicycling, picnicking, horseback riding, boating, or wildlife viewing. With many scenic and historic spots, Bighorn is memorable for the beautiful sights and the story it tells. 

This past year, one of our Student Ambassadors, Clara, traveled to Bighorn Canyon while on a road trip with her family. We are passionate about encouraging kids to get outdoors and into their local public parks, lands, and waters. Our student leaders do a fantastic job highlighting ways other kids like them can begin to explore their local outdoor spaces. 

National Park Trust is a non-profit dedicated to the protection of our national parks. The Park Trust preserves parks today and creates park stewards for tomorrow by acquiring the missing pieces of our national parks and building a pipeline of future caretakers of our public lands and waters by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, the Park Trust has completed 73 land projects in 31 states, one U.S. Territory, and Washington, D.C. Our national Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day support 300 Title I schools annually in under-served communities. 

Find out more at parktrust.org.

Shop now

You can use this element to add a quote, content...