Knockout national parks near American cities

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photo by CC user Tiner Ralph, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (image in public domain)

As much as America’s best urban environments offer, sometimes the call of nature is too alluring to resist. When you seek to answer its call, do so in some of the best national parks near American cities…

1) San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

Renowned worldwide for its spectacular granite massifs (like El Capitan and Half Dome), waterfalls, and massive sequoia trees, a trip to Yosemite National Park has long been a way for many from the Bay Area and across America to cast off the stress of the city in order to reconnect with nature on their holiday time.

Gawk at the power of Yosemite Falls, scale Half Dome via the assistance of via ferrata cables, and do some day hikes that will get you away from the tour bus crowds and deep into this park’s amazing nature … any of them will get you hooked on seeing more of America’s natural heritage.

2) Denver: Rocky Mountain National Park

Within sight of Denver’s downtown core are the Rockies, which is arguably America’s most famous mountain chain. While any place west of the city will put in their midst, the best place to experience their nature in a protected state is within the appropriately named Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Continent Divide passes through the centre of this park, which makes for a drier eastern section, and a moister and more lush western section. Those that are into mountaineering, rock climbing and wildlife spotting will be at home here, while those wishing to drive the highest paved road in America will find it along the Trail Ridge Road, which peaks at 12,000 feet above sea level.

3) Miami: Everglades National Park

Fixing to leave the socially competitive scene of Miami behind for a weekend of exploring South Florida’s complex nature? If so, the biodiverse wetlands of Everglades National Park are but a short drive away from the sands of South Beach, where you will trade sun loungers for swamp boats. From crocodiles to manatees, the waters of the park are filled with amazing animals that are just waiting to be discovered.

4) Boston: Cape Cod National Seashore

In the sweltering heat of a New England summer, many overheated locals do the only sensible thing on weekends and on their time off from work: they load themselves into the family car and head off toward Cape Cod National Seashore.

In addition to harboring a large quantity of high quality beaches, it also protects cliff dunes, salt marshes, and pine and oak forests inland. While camping is not available on Seashore lands, many private campgrounds are situated outside park boundaries, making for a fun weekend (or week) during the height of summer in the Northeast.

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