Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our Local National Parks

On Sunday I highlighted some of the walks folks are taking in local national parks this weekend. Which reminded me about this post I did last year -- which I've now updated with links to all of the posts we've written about these parks. Still a few more to cover! In honor of the 4th, let us know: What's your favorite local national park?

Photo credit: Steve Took It
There's not much that makes me feel more patriotic than our national park system. And although other places in the US may boast larger and grander national parks, I am grateful to live in an urban area where you're never more than a few miles from a park. Check out this map to see what I mean. Or consider this list:

Rock Creek Park is one of the oldest parks in the National Park Service and, at 1754 acres, one of the largest urban forests in the United States. Several other parks are under the jurisdiction of Rock Creek Park, adding even more to the total acreage, including Glover Archbold Park, Montrose Park , Dumbarton Park, Meridian Hill Park, Battery Kemble Park, Palisades Park, and Whitehaven Park.

C&O Canal National Historic Park follows the Potomac River and the C&O Canal for 184.5 miles from Cumberland, MD, to Washington, DC, running right by Great Falls Park, another gem of the DC-area National Parks (see also our recent post on visiting at sunset).

Anacostia Park includes Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens and Kenilworth Marsh, 1200 acres along the Potomac, home to gorgeous cultivated water gardens and a wild stretch along the Anacostia River.

Greenbelt Park is an 1100 acre National Park just inside the beltway in Greenbelt, MD, with hiking and biking trails and a large campground.

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail will eventually include over 825 miles of trails, from Pittsburgh to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to the C&O Canal, it includes 15 miles in Loudoun County (link); 7.7 miles of trails within Riverbend Park (link), Great Falls Park, and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in northern Fairfax County; two partially-completed routes within the District of Columbia— including the 23 mile Fort Circle Parks Trail, a multi-use route between Georgetown and Oxon Cove Park, the 18.5-mile Mount Vernon Trail, and the 10-mile Potomac Heritage Trail within George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Speaking of the GW Parkway, it's not just the narrow corridor around the higway. This National Park property includes several sub-parks along the way, including the beautiful 700-acre Turkey Run, 91-acre Theodore Roosevelt Island , the 17-acre Ladybird Johnson Park/LBJ Memorial Grove (link) (which is supposed to be a good place to watch the fireworks, though we've never tried it), a marina on Daingerfield Island, 380-acre Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve (link), and more.

The Civil War Defenses of Washington are also run by the NPS. Some of the most notable are Fort Dupont Park (376 acres), Fort Washington Park (link) (341 acres), and Battleground National Cemetery (link).

Oxon Cove Park/Oxon Hill Farm (link) is a 512 acre working farm with educational programs on farm life, 19th century history, and the environment.

Piscataway Park (link) exists mainly to protect 6 miles along the Potomac that can be seen from Mount Vernon (which, incidentally, is not a National Park). The 5000 acre park is partly privately owned, and part jointly run by the NPS. The part that is open to the public includes a National Colonial Farm.

Photo credit: breenzanemom
And then, of course, there is the National Mall and all of its Memorials, all run by the National Park service. NPS also has jurisdiction over many of the smaller parks scattered throughout the city, including Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park, many parks on Capitol Hill, and many National Historic Sites from the Frederick Douglass NHS to the White House itself.

I suspect I've even missed some. So, while we're honoring national heroes this weekend, don't forget to include the ones at the National Park Service.

What's your favorite park on this list? Did we miss any? Leave a comment.