Say Happy Birthday to These 5 National Parks in June

Summer is upon us as temperatures rise and the travel season heats up. If you are still deciding where to vacation this year, consider visiting one of the five national parks established in June. These parks represent some of our most beautiful places. Each offers something unique with scenery and activities. Let’s explore the national parks with a June birthday.

Mesa Verde National Park

  • Established June 29, 1906
brown rock formation during daytime
Mesa Verde National Park. Photo credit: MARIOLA GROBELSKA

Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado turns 117 this month. The park spans more than 52,000 acres. It houses more than 5,000 known archaeological sites and cliff dwellings, including some of the best-preserved sites on the continent. Accordingly, Mesa Verde is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

If you prefer to avoid crowds, put this place on your list. The park receives about 500,000 visitors annually, one of our least-visited national parks. 

Visitors can explore the archaeological sites, hike, and learn about the ancestral Pueblo people who lived here for more than 700 years. Mesa Verde is an International Dark Sky Park for those who love stargazing. If you enjoy birding, the park is named an Important Birding Area by the Audubon Society. With so many distinctions, it is challenging to understand why the park is one of our least-visited. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Established June 15, 1934
scenic, great smoky mountains, tennessee
Mountain stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo credit: ZIPNON

Great Smoky Mountains National Park turns 89 this June. America’s most-visited national park got its name for its smoky aura from fog lingering in its forested mountain ridges. 

The park spans over half a million acres, straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee borders. It offers breathtaking landscapes of lush forests, rolling mountains, rushing streams, and cascading waterfalls. Sixteen of its peaks rise above 6,000 feet. It is the perfect forest and mountain retreat to relax or find adventure.

With so much beautiful scenery, hiking and auto touring are two of the most popular activities. You will find plenty of woodland trails and paths that lead to bountiful waterfalls. For those who enjoy road trips, drive the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want history, the park has over 90 historic buildings, including two landmark gristmills. The park harbors deer, elk, and black bears for those who enjoy wildlife watching. Or, you can stay at your campsite or cabin, breathe in the mountain air, and savor the views.

Olympic National Park

  • Established June 29, 1938
temperate rainforest in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park. Photo credit: Yux Xiang

Olympic National Park turns 85 this year. It spans over 922,000 acres in the northwest corner of the United States in Washington. The park comprises diverse ecosystems of glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rainforests, and rugged, wild coastlines. Due to its unique and diverse natural beauty, Olympic National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park receives approximately 3 million visitors annually.

You can explore the various ecosystems by taking a scenic drive or hiking the park’s beautiful trails. Many visitors expect mountains and forests but are surprised to discover picturesque beaches where you can go tide pooling. Other popular activities include fishing, kayaking, and snowshoeing. Olympic National Park has abundant wildlife, including black bears, Roosevelt elk, and mountain goats.

Big Bend National Park

  • Established June 12, 1944
river between rocky mountains under clear sky
Big Bend National Park. Photo credit: Kyle Glenn

Big Bend National Park turns 79 this June. Nestled in far west Texas, it has the darkest skies of any national park in the Lower 48. The mighty Rio Grande River marks the park’s southern boundary for 118 snaking miles. Big Bend National Park houses iconic temple-like canyons and diverse desert, mountain, and river ecosystems. 

The park is a world-class area for geology lovers. You may find anything from limestone to laccoliths or faults to volcanoes. People have discovered sea fossils and dinosaur bones in the park.

You can explore the park by scenic drives or hiking desert, mountain, and river trails. Floating the Rio Grande through canyons up to 1,500 feet deep is one of the park’s biggest attractions. Top-notch stargazing in the International Dark Sky Park is another big draw. For those who enjoy birding, hundreds of bird species seek refuge in a lone mountain range surrounded by the arid desert. If you love animals, black bears, javelinas, and bobcats inhabit the park.

Biscayne National Park

  • Established June 28, 1980
a light house sitting on top of a small island - Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park. Photo credit: Ilse Orsel

Biscayne National Park turns 43 this month. One of America’s best east coast national parks, it sits about 15 miles offshore from Miami. Often described as a watery wonderland, it comprises turquoise waters, emerald islands, coral reefs, and colorful tropical fish. You may discover remnants of human history, like shipwrecks and prehistoric tribal artifacts. 

The park offers unique activities such as boat tours, lobstering, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Park rangers provide guided tours of a 65-foot lighthouse on Boca Chita Key. With warm sunshine, gentle breezes, and beautiful vistas, a visit to Biscayne National Park delivers serenity.

Wrap-Up: National Parks with a Birthday in June

Celebrate our national parks with a birthday in June. Each offers unique scenery, wildlife, and recreational activities. Plan your adventure to one of these excellent parks and deliver your birthday sentiments in person.

Featured image credit: Mick Haupt

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About the author

View of Glacier Bay from cruise ship

Scott McConkey is a nationally syndicated travel writer and the founder of Miles with McConkey, where he provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, and inspiration. His travel articles have been seen in The Associated Press wire, ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, MSN, and many more. He and his wife, Julie, left the corporate world after nearly 30 years for a life of travel and adventure. What started as a gap year has evolved into a second act. She creates visual content while he utilizes the written word. Their goal is to create content inspiring others to travel more and live their best lives now.