This installment of the occasional series on federal government websites looks at the National Park Service. Travel season will be here before we know it, and the national parks make wonderful vacation destinations.
Nearly everyone knows parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but the National Park Service operates 407 national parks, national monuments, and other properties. Click on “Find a Park” in the header menu to find parks by name, location, activity, and topic. Here are the ones that begin with the letter E.
- Ebey’s Landing
- Edgar Allen Poe
- Effigy Mounds
- El Camino Real de los Tejas
- El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
- El Malpais
- El Morro
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Ellis Island
- Erie Canalway
- Eugene O’Neill
Some, like the Everglades, are among the parks everyone recognizes. You recognize famous people, and the full name of these properties continues “National Historical Site.”
The Eisenhower National Historical Site is not the same as the Eisenhower Presidential Library. It is his home and farm next to the Gettysburg Battlefield. The Battlefield is itself a National Military Park. That pair of parks is one example of parks so close together you can visit them on the same trip.
Ebey’s Landing is a “National Historical Reserve” on the north side of the Columbia River in the state of Washington. As the name historical reserve suggests, it preserves a historically important area.
In this case the park presents the cultural traditions of both the Native Americans and the first Euro-American settlers. It also offers spectacular scenery, a wildlife preserve, and a variety of recreational opportunities.
Most of the best-known national parks are in the western part of the country, but little Delaware has Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, part of Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, First State National Historic Park, and part of the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail.
Every state has at least one National Park Service property, as do American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. The location menu also includes pages for each state and territory, where you can find the state parks.
As a whole, the national parks offer a wide range of activities. Popular activities include auto touring, photography, and swimming. For the more adventurous, some of them offer climbing, horse camping, or snorkeling.
Topics include history (battlegrounds, early explorers, westward expansion), people (American Presidents, artists, social leaders), various kinds of scenery (mountains, seashores, rivers), unusual forms of nature (geysers, volcanoes, dinosaurs), and current issues (endangered species, human rights). Many have some kind of educational aspect.
You will find several other links to the right of “Find a Park,” all but two of which have numerous pages:
- For Travelers
- For Teachers
- For Kids
- Air Resources
- Biological Resources
- Climate Change
- Environmental Quality
- Geologic Resources
- Inventory & Management
- National Natural Landmarks
- Natural Sounds & Night Skies [It is amazing how much of nature the noise and bright lights of our urban centers obliterate from our senses.]
- Photos & Multimedia
- Research Learning Centers
- Science & Research
- Social Science
- Water Resources
- Do Your Part
Working with Communities
- Tax Incentives
- National Register of Historic Places [The National Park Service itself owns only a small fraction of these properties.]
- Outdoor Recreation
- National Trails System
- Work with Us
- Jobs for Students
- Doing Business with Us
- Laws & Policies
The rest of the National Park Service’s home page
On the right side of the home page, under the header, there is another search by state pull-down menu with a link to an advanced search tool and maps, an opportunity to subscribe to the National Park Foundation’s newsletter, and a place to get entrance passes.
While many National Park Service properties are open free of charge, you must pay to enter others. If you plan to visit many parks, having the pass saves time and hassle.
The home page also has links to news and events, a place where you can share your own story, and links to various multimedia features:
- Web cam views
- Photo gallery
The National Park Service web site is as rich in detail and variety as the park properties themselves. You can learn about parks you plan to visit or vicariously experience the one’s you’ll never see in person.