The high summer season has arrived throughout most of the National Park System, and that means there is no shortage of activities for you and your family to take part in.
If you find yourself in Utah through the first half of July, head over to Cedar Breaks National Monument (www.nps.gov/cebr) to enjoy the colorfully painted high country that wildflowers bring to the monument. Dazzling strokes of Indian paintbrush, daubs of lupine and larkspur, and dashes of primrose all will be on display at Cedar Breaks during its 4th Annual Wildflower Festival, which runs July 3-19.
The festival offers a little something for everyone, from wildflower "scavenger hunts" for Junior Rangers to photography workshops and guided hikes.
"We have put together a series of special events and will have park rangers, volunteers, and other resources available for visitors to learn about and photograph the incredible beautiful variety of wildflowers to be discovered at Cedar Breaks," says Cedar Breaks Superintendent Paul Roelandt.
Going to Grand Teton National Park (www.nps.gov/grte)? Then be sure to make time for Music in Nature, a concert series produced by the park and the Grand Teton Music Festival that runs through July 25.
"The Music in Nature concerts create a unique, relaxing atmosphere that allows visitors to enjoy the picturesque Teton landscape in a truly personal and moving way," says Grand Teton Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott.
Thirty-minute concerts are being offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Colter Bay Visitor Center (12pm and 2pm) and at Jackson Lake Lodge (4:30pm and 6pm), and Wednesdays and Fridays at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center (11:30am and 12:30pm)
At Shenandoah National Park (www.nps.gov/shen) on Sunday, July 12, from 11am to 1pm the rangers will be offering their Hiking With Children program. The program was designed for parents who have wanted to go hiking with their children but worried about what to do to keep them interested, entertained, and safe. Leading the program will be Jeff Alt, the author of A Walk for Sunshine and an avid hiker. He will offer you pointers for how to share nature with your kids for a fun and safe outdoor adventure.
And if you're planning to head to Mammoth Cave National Park (www.nps.gov/maca) during the weekends of July 18-19 or August 15-16, when park entrance fees are waived across the National Park System, keep in mind that the park is offering free tours of the Discovery and Mammoth Passage cave tours those weekends.
Finally, if you like to hike in the High Sierra but are not crazy about hauling a heavy pack on your back, check into the High Sierra Camps at Yosemite National Park (www.nps.gov/yose). A series of backcountry sites that feature wall-tents with cots and a central tent where meals are served, these camps typically are sold out early in the year. But as of July 1 there were a good number of slots open for the rest of the summer. Check out www.yosemitepark.com to see what's available.
Kurt Repanshek is the author of several national park guidebooks, including National Parks With Kids. You can get a daily dose of national park news, trivia, and commentary by visiting www.nationalparkstraveler.com. This site tracks "Commentary, News, and Life in America's Parks." Along with offering travel tidbits for those visiting the national parks, the Traveler offers anecdotes, insights, and a place for park junkies to speak their minds and stay atop park-related issues.
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