Discovering the ‘Last Green Valley’ Right Next Door

lasgreenvalleyWhen it comes to public parklands in the U.S., our valley is awfully green. The U.S. National Park Service manages more than 420 park units, including National Parks National Monuments, National Battlefields, National Historic Sites, and others. And that’s not even counting the public lands overseen by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Falling under none of these categories are National Heritage Areas (alternatively called National Heritage Corridors), which are sometimes overlooked even though there are nearly as many of them (49) as National Parks (59). These park units are created by Congress and enjoy some support from the Park Service, but are administered by state governments, non-profit organizations or other private corporations. Continue reading

Visit Free and Volunteer at Your Local Parks This Weekend!

npld_logo_no-line_cmyk_coatedNational Public Lands Day is a rather dry name for an annual event that’s actually pretty cool for two reasons: it gets you into any National Park for free, and it’s a catalyst for volunteer programs in the parks that you can be a part of.

Saturday, Sept. 26 is 2015’s National Public Lands Day, which National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis describes as “a unique opportunity for visitors and volunteers to reflect on their important role as stewards of America’s public lands.” And what better place to do all that reflecting than in a park: It’s one of a handful of days during the year that the park service throws open the gates without an admission fee.

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Two National Parks Bring the History and Culture of New Orleans to Life

Chalmette National Battlefield

Chalmette National Battlefield

The bacchanal of Bourbon Street is what most people envision when they think about New Orleans, but there’s much more to the French Quarter than booze and beads. Founded in 1718, New Orleans was born on this sliver of high ground along the Mississippi and has a rich history suffused with a melting pot of French, Spanish, Creole, Cajun and American culture.

Two units of the National Park Service, the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve and the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, are headquartered in the French Quarter and help tell the story of New Orleans. I spent last weekend exploring these two fascinating parks, which detail everything from the War of 1812 to the humble origins and remarkable career of jazz legend Louis Armstrong. Continue reading

CarpeTravel Calls Chimani National Parks a Great Planning Tool for Campers

Carpe-Travel-planning675Like many people, CarpeTravel founder Elaine Schoch takes her phone with her wherever she goes — including out camping in the wilderness, miles from any cellular service. Nonetheless, she says, “I’ve found several apps that do a great job of enhancing the overall camping experience,” including our very own (and wifi-independent) Chimani National Parks. Continue reading