November is a time for cooler temperatures, hope for the future, and thankfulness for what we have. That thankfulness should extend to our national parks and the natural beauty and history they preserve.
We say happy birthday to five national parks in November. One park turns 104 this year. Do you know which one?
Let’s honor our national parks with November birthdays, starting with the youngest.
Congaree National Park
Established November 10, 2003
A frequently overlooked national park along the East Coast, Congaree National Park houses southeast America’s most significant intact expanse of old-growth floodplain hardwood forest. The central South Carolina park turns 20 this November.
Popular park activities include hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. On land, a combination of boardwalk paths and backcountry trails reveal lush forests, oxbow lakes, and the Congaree River.
Many visitors choose to explore the park by water. Some enjoy paddling along the peaceful Cedar Creek, while others prefer the challenging 50-mile journey from Columbia, South Carolina.
Although many guests want to see the beautiful trees, Congaree National Park harbors diverse wildlife, including deer, alligators, wading birds, otters, and turtles. Due to the floodplains and warm, humid weather, the park houses many mosquitoes. Guests regularly wear protective clothing and insect repellent or visit during cold weather.
Badlands National Park
Established November 10, 1978
The Badlands refer to the region’s rough terrain, extreme weather conditions, and the lack of usable water. However, the park houses beautiful, otherworldly striated rock formations separated by vast mixed-grass prairies. Badlands National Park turns 45 this year.
The park offers scenic drives, short but rewarding hikes, and unique wildlife. Visitors can easily navigate the park’s primary section by driving along two roads. Unlike most national parks, you can experience off-trail hiking.
Guests regularly spot wildlife in the park, including bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. Hiking off-trail lets you get closer views of the surreal striped rock formations and prairie dogs digging and scurrying in the grasslands. Visitors should admire bison and bighorn sheep from a distance.
Badlands National Park sits in southwestern South Dakota, a 1.5-hour drive from Mount Rushmore. Many travelers visit both national park sites as part of a road trip.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Established November 10, 1978
Resting in southwestern North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park features rugged, beautiful badlands. The National Park Service established the park to honor the landscape’s influence on its namesake president. As a young man, Roosevelt hunted and ranched in the area. The park turns 45 this November.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is renowned for its scenic drives, where guests frequently spot wildlife like bison, prairie dogs, deer, elk, feral horses, and pronghorns. Rather than drive, some guests prefer to bicycle along scenic roads.
The park offers various hiking trails, ranging from paved walking paths to challenging routes through the rugged wilderness. In winter, many guests explore the park by snowshoeing.
Due to its remote location, the region gets little light pollution. Accordingly, the park is an excellent place for stargazing. During summer, park rangers typically offer night sky programs.
For a national park that you rarely hear people mention, it offers plenty of rugged natural beauty, exotic wildlife, and unique recreational opportunities.
Arches National Park
Established November 12, 1971
One of the five stunning Utah national parks, Arches National Park comprises over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The park turns 52 this year and boasts the world’s highest density of natural rock arches.
Many visitors tour the park by car or bicycle along scenic drives. However, the park contains many hiking trails where you gain views of arches not visible from the road.
For those who seek adventure, rock climbing and canyoneering are popular activities. With canyoneering, guests use climbing equipment to descend through canyons. It is an adrenaline-pumping activity that uniquely allows you to experience the beautiful red rock formations.
Arches National Park earned an International Dark Sky Park designation and is an excellent place for observing the night skies. Although most visitors stargaze independently, rangers occasionally lead night sky programs or events.
Nearly 50 species of mammals inhabit Arches National Park, including mule deer, kangaroo rats, desert cottontails, and red foxes. Since many of the park’s mammals are nocturnal, animal sightings are uncommon.
Zion National Park
Established November 19, 1919
Resting in southwest Utah, Zion National Park is renowned for its soaring red and white sandstone cliffs, scenic hiking trails, and the tranquil Virgin River. Utah’s first national park turns 104 this November.
The park offers many excellent hiking trails, but the most iconic experience is The Narrows, where guests hike through a slot canyon in the Virgin River. Other paths yield views that many say are comparable to the Grand Canyon.
Many guests enjoy river trips through Zion National Park. These may involve paddling or floating. Similar to Arches National Park, rock climbing and canyoneering are popular activities.
With towering cliffs, the park offers breathtaking sunset views. Since Zion is also an International Dark Sky Park, many visitors stay to watch the Milky Way brighten the night sky. During the day, guests occasionally spot wildlife such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, foxes, and rock squirrels.
Celebrate Our National Parks in November
Five national parks have a birthday in November. Let’s honor these fabulous parks, young and old. Consider planning your next adventure at one of these national treasures.
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About the author
We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.