Exploring Our National Parks

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Are you getting an itch to get in your automobile to take a trip? About this time of year we find ourselves a little tired of the cold weather and begin thinking about a trip this spring. Why not consider exploring some of our great national parks?

Norma and I are considering an automobile trip that would include some of the best national parks in our country. I’ll give you an itinerary that you might consider yourself.

First, head north on Hwy. 87 and get on Interstate 40, going west to Las Vegas. It’s only a short day’s drive from our town to all the glittering lights, entertainment and great food in Vegas. You can play the slots and tables if you choose or simply laze around your hotel’s pool and soak up the sun and warmth for a day or two. Be sure to catch a live show in one of the showrooms while there.

From Vegas, head to Salt Lake City, which is another day’s drive. There, take a day or two to visit some of the sights of this interesting city. There is the Mormon Temple and other important Mormon sights you may wish to see, along with some interesting areas near Salt Lake City. These would include the skiing resorts of Snowbird, Deer Valley, Park City and Sundance. You may find interesting the National Historic Site where two railroads came together and placed the Golden Spike giving the United States its first trans- continental railroad from coast to coast.

Salt Lake City is also known for the fine Utah Symphony Orchestra, live theatre and Tabernacle Choir.

Next, take an easy two-day drive through the great plains of Wyoming into South Dakota to Rapid City. After some rest here, it’s a short drive to Crazy Horse Memorial, built in honor of the Sioux Indian chief whose fame is derived from the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Later, explore Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which features the monumental likenesses of four U.S. presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt – carved on the face of a mountain. You can stroll along the Presidential Trail for more intimate views, or visit the Information Center.

The next day enjoy a drive through Black Hills National Forest and experience the area’s colorful history. Take a tour of Deadwood, once a wild gold-mining town, and hear the stories of legendary Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Then, visit Tatanka to learn the story of the bison and experience the richness of the Lakota people, a Plains Indian buffalo culture.

Then, continue through the Black Hills to the cattle town of Sheridan at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains.

After a night in Sheridan, travel into southern Montana to visit Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site commemorating one of America’s most famous battles. You can tour the battleground where Custer was defeated by approximately 7,000 Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors, and be sure to visit the museum. Later, continue the scenic drive through the Bighorn Mountains, stopping at Shell Falls en route to Cody. Here, you can take a float trip on the Shoshone River. I did this many years ago and it was a thrill.

Continue your drive to Cody for a night’s rest. I might suggest staying at the Holiday Inn Buffalo Bill Village.

From here, plan to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, which features historic weapons and Western art. Afterward, drive through Shoshone National Forest to Yellowstone National Park, which was established in 1872 and was the country’s first national park. I suggest traveling along Grand Loop Road to Artist Point on the south rim with magnificent views of Yellowstone Canyon and the spectacular Lower Falls, which are almost twice as high as Niagara Falls. Now, continue on to Fountain Paint Pots to see the bubbling mud. Rejoin the Grand Loop Road and stop at several photo pull-offs, which will include famed Old Faithful Geyser. Tonight, plan to stay at the Yellowstone Lodge if you can.

The next day, drive south into breathtaking Grand Teton National Park outside Jackson. Be sure to visit glacier fed Jenny Lake at the foot of the rugged spires for a delightful walk along the shore before ending your day at Jackson, which is an all -Western town. The Rustic Inn is the place to stay here if you can get reservations.

Plan to stay here at least a full day to relax, get some rest and enjoy the fantastic scenery. You may feel like taking a float trip along the Snake River or a leisurely walk downtown along the boardwalk and sip a couple at one of the swing-door saloons.

Now, head south back to Salt Lake City as you journey alongside some of Wyoming’s most beautiful mountain ranges into Utah and some rest after arrival.

From Salt Lake City continue on to Bryce Canyon, a national park with a beauty all its own. Take a drive with photo stops to capture the bright red, yellow, and pink pillars called “hoodoos”. Tonight, you may wish to stay at Ruby’s Inn at the entrance to Bryce Canyon.

From here, continue on to Zion National Park with its dramatic landscape of sculptured canyons and soaring cliffs resembling temples and cathedrals. Then continue into Arizona and on to Glen Canyon and Lake Powell. It’s always fun to take a boat cruise on this vast lake.

Head to the Painted Desert or the Grand Canyon if you like. A stay here at the old Grand Canyon Lodge can be fun.

From here, its home! You will find this automobile trip very satisfying and will allow some wonderful photography along the way.

You can also book a guided tour using this same or similar itinerary.

I suggest contacting a travel agent and request information, pricing and brochures. You’ll be proud of our America after visiting this part of the good old U.S.A.

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