Earth Day Network

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Our National Parks

Sandboarding in the desert to diving for shipwrecks, our national parks have it all

Over the past week we’ve been celebrating the National Park Service for its 100th birthday. We gave you some pretty interesting reads but in case you’ve been busy, we pulled together the weirdest facts about our national parks!

 

 

  1. In its early years, the NPS actually encouraged bears to eat trash and even set up viewing areas for tourists to watch bears forage through dumpsters. Eventually there were issues of public safety and by the 1970’s humans were encouraged to keep their trash in bear proof bags.

 

 

  1. Shenandoah National Park Ranger Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning seven times throughout his career between 1942 and 1977. A song was named after him in the mid-1990s called “Roy Sullivan, By Lightning Loved.” For perspective, the odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000!

 

  1. You can go sandboarding at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. With the tallest dunes in North America, sandboarding or sand-sledding are just some of the activities in the park. Horseback riding and biking are options too! You might want to avoid it in the summer though. Temperatures can reach up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit!

 

  1. The longest trail in the NPS system is California’s National Historic Trail. It covers 5,665 miles across TEN states. The trail traces the historical route emigrants took from the East Coast to California as they chased gold and settled. The trail doesn’t go from point A to point B, rather it weaves through a series of separate routes.

 

  1. Six shipwrecks are part of Biscayne National Park in Florida. This water park is a whirlwind of islands, shipwrecks, and coral reefs. Visitors can snorkel or dive to the shipwreck sites. One of the ships, Mandalay, was a luxury ship that was returning from the Bahamas on New Year’s in 1966. The captain went to sleep around 1am and the boat was driven aground in Long Reef. After a SOS signal and flares were released, helicopters rescued all 24 people on board.