THE SCIENCE OF SUMMER RECREATION: When researcher Randy Olson devised "the optimal road trip" route for taking in some of the coolest stuff around the United States, his findings pretty much blew the proverbial top off of summertime vacation planning. That it arrived in springtime, just when people were starting to put their minds to thinking about warm-weather getaways, was also a stroke of happy fortune. And it served as a reminder to all of us to think bigger when we think about a potential road trip. For sure, we could drive a few hours and visit a quirky attraction, and then drive home, or we could plot our own course that would encompass many major sights. The National Park Foundation has always taken that bigger spirit to heart, which is no surprise. After all, they keep a keen eye on some of the biggest, grandest, tallest, and waterfalliest wonders in all the land. Now the organization, which "enriches America's national parks and programs through private support, safeguarding our heritage, and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts" (all "in partnership with the National Park Service," by the by), wants to make sure you're well-mapped for the summer. Well-mapped four times over, in fact. A recently released set of charming infographics, showing you how to take in a fell swoop of national park-style goodness, is your guide.
FOUR MAPS... and routes involving a bevy of gems. There's The Iconic Pacific Coast Highway map, which includes both Olympic National Park and Pinnacles National Park, and the See How the West Was Preserved map, which roams from Lassen Volcanic National Park allll the way up into Wyoming (holler, Yellowstone). And for adventurers heading to the East Coast and the South, there are invigorating, historic, picture-perfect routes at the ready, too. Truly, this is a prime time for both map-making enthusiasts and people who want to maximize their vacation windows, however large those windows might be. Showing a fun way to wend among our parks is a fine way for the National Park Foundation to get those aforementioned enthusiasts in the gates and among the trees/geysers/sands/pinnacles. Keep on be-mapping us, national park people; it's just the get-going-already inspiration we need.