Urban-Close: National Parks Near Cities

You don't need to drive several hours to get with history or nature.

National Park Foundation

TREES, MOUNTAINS, WOOD, CAMPFIRE: Much of the iconic imagery we see around our national parks, be that imagery on a sign or t-shirt or hotel or all of the above, has to do with the Great Outdoors. Tall 'n proud fir trees and snow-capped mountains are favorite symbols of some of the parks within the National Park Service, and we've come to associate any visit to a national park as involving a few maps, a few road snacks, a few music mixes, and several hours on the road. And while leaving our big city home and heading for the snowy peaks and thick forests that are found in many national parks is a tradition that we'll forever adhere to, finding those historic and cultural and nature-filled sites closer to home, much closer, is rather wonderful, too. It means we don't have to block out a week or even a long weekend to get the national park experience; a jaunt of under an hour, a short boat ride, or perhaps a good stroll can take use there. The National Park Foundation is eager to pair people and parks, and that can mean both championing the city-distant parks as well as those NPS sites found within honking distance of our busy urban streets. Want to find what's near the metropolis you call home? Then check out...

THE 24+ NATIONAL PARKS... near 24 U.S. Cities Guide. It's called "Urban Playgrounds" -- cute and catchy, NPF -- and it details all of those wonderful, ranger-riffic locales that don't require a day's drive from your apartment or pad. Well, some of them will, if they're not near your city, but Alcatraz, which is on the list, is in San Francisco's sphere, and the lighthouse-lovely Cabrillo National Monument sits near San Diego. True, massive ranges full of silent valleys may be a bit scarce around the humming megatowns of America, but that doesn't mean city citizens are well out of the NPS loop. There are places nearby to enjoy, if only we look. Well, look and go; the "go" part is an essential part of the be-an-explorer-of-your-area equation. Want the full guide, for freesies? Yes, we said "freesies"; the "Playground" in the guide's name has us thinking cute and catchy, too. For all of the National Park Foundation's goodness, click. They help support the National Park Service in many ways, so staying up on all things NPF is a good thing to do.

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