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Author Joe Yogerst offers 4 tips for making the most of our National Parks

A hiker heads down a dirt road in

A hiker heads down a dirt road in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Brytta

Joe Yogerst was barely out of the cradle when his parents whisked him off to Yosemite National Park for his first camping trip. In the years that followed, family road trips often included visits to other parks, sparking a lifelong passion. In his new book, “100 Parks, 5000 Ideas” (National Geographic, $29.99), Yogerst showcases top national, state and city parks throughout North America, paired with stunning photography and expert tips. Here are four ideas to consider: 

1. Beach Destinations. From Outer Beach on Cape Cod to Washington’s Ruby Beach, many North American parks offer pristine options for relishing the pleasures of sea, sun and sand. Padre Island in Texas boasts the world’s longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island. It’s protected, reports Yogerst, within a 70-mile stretch of national seashore along the Gulf of Mexico. 

2. Wildlife Encounters. Look for brown bears, caribou and Dall sheep in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Manitoba’s Wapusk National Park is the place to observe and photograph polar bears in the wild. Head to the Everglades, Florida’s “river of grass,” to see alligators, manatees, sea turtles and the rare American crocodile.

3. Hiking Trails. From challenging day hikes to epic, multi-month journeys, parks offer a wide range of routes for families on the move, says Yogerst. The John Muir trail offers a 211-mile path across the High Sierra, between Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island gives visitors the chance to retrace a route blazed by First Nations peoples centuries ago. 

4. Historic Lodges. Combining distinctive architecture and quirky history, landmark lodges often set the mood in national parks, Yogerst says. Consider the Cavallo Point Lodge for its panoramic views across the water to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and the city of San Francisco. The world’s largest “log cabin,” Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn, is a historic gem. 

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