The US government may be shut down, but don’t shut down your vacation plans just yet—you’ve got options. Try one of these top alternatives to popular US National Parks:
CLOSED: Gettysburg National Military Park
It’s the 150th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address—but right now, you can’t go. While many of the most significant Civil War sites are federal land, countless others are in state and county parks and are open for visitors. Near Gettysburg, try beautiful Caledonia State Park on the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Confederate army approached the Battle of Gettysburg (and later retreated) through Caledonia, and it’s a historic Underground Railroad site.
CLOSED: Yosemite National Park
2013 was a double-whammy year for Yosemite: the government shutdown came right on the heels of the Rim Fire, the largest recorded wildfire in the Sierra Nevada. But High Sierra grandeur isn’t totally out of reach. Hoping to visit a giant sequoia grove? Head to Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold, California. Keep going up Highway 4 to catch autumn in the highest reaches of the Sierra Nevada near Lake Alpine before the snow sets in.
CLOSED: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
As disappointing as it is that Hawaii’s premier park is closed, YOU’RE IN HAWAII. You’ll get over it. But if you’re hankering for volcanic goodies on the Big Island, you’ve got options. Kazumura Cave, the longest and deepest lava tube system in the world, is just east of the National Park, and can be explored with the help of local guides. Stroll Lava Tree State Monument, a forest of lava columns where trees once stood. Finish with a dip at Ahalanui Park, in its volcano-heated natural pool.
CLOSED: Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is closed. Well, almost. The Rockies don’t stop at the Canadian border, and the Canadian continuation of the park, Waterton Lakes National Park, is open for business. This is no second-fiddle park—the dramatic glacially carved landscape dotted with mountain goats and furry marmots is just as eye-poppingly amazing as on the US side. Just remember to pack your passport.
Speaking of Canada, why not just keep going, eh? Browse the best of Canada on Airbnb.