Outdoors + Nature

Secrets of the National Parks

by Brook Wilkinson

Too many national park vacations are exercises in contradictions: explorations of the natural world… spent mostly in the car. A search for a tranquil Eden… in the company of hundreds of other photo-snappers. But the national parks are more than Mother Earth's answer to the fast-food drive-through: Get out and explore by foot (or raft, or kayak, or bike), and you'll be rewarded with a more fulfilling experience. Concierge.com asked some park insiders—rangers, guides, neighbors, and others—to give us their best advice on how to avoid the crowds and even save a bit of money at a selection of ten parks, some well-known, others way off the beaten path.

Updated in June 2010. Pictured: Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park, California

Next: Live the high life at the country's lowest point >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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