Want an Adrenaline Rush?
Have you ever found yourself wanting a bit more out of your experiences at our national parks? Are you looking for something more than just sightseeing, camping, and hiking; perhaps a sporting activity maybe? Luckily for you our national park system offers a variety of activities from bike riding to football that you might not have been aware of. Here is a list of 11 parks featuring sports that you may enjoy.
During the summer months, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, you can visit Washington D.C.’s Anacostia Park and partake in roller skating at the only skating pavilion within the National Park System. Available seven days a week, visitors can practice their footwork from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on weekday, and 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on weekends. Skate rentals are FREE to check out with a valid I.D.
For those who love experiencing a spectacular landscape on wheels, mountain biking at Canyonlands National Park will fit the bill perfectly. The park offers challenging and rewarding treks such as the 100-mile White Rim Road or the Maze. Permits are needed for day and overnight use and reservations for campsites must be made up to four months in advance. There are no shoulders or designated bike lanes along the paved roads, which are also open to cyclists, so remember to ride single file and be mindful of passing vehicles.
Horseback riding is a timeless activity and Montana’s Glacier National Park offers numerous trails that are open to horses and other livestock such as mules, donkeys, and llamas. Stock use is permitted on many dirt trails but is prohibited on paved roads at all times. Certain conditions such as weather and bear activity will cause trails to be closed to stock use during the year, so be sure to check the Trail Status page for updates before heading into the park.
The Leonard H. Neiman Fields Complex at the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, located in Minnesota, offers visitors with a wide range of sporting activities. Overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, the complex encompasses soccer, baseball, and softball fields; as well as indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a youth golf facility, and many concessions. The fields are open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
California’s Channel Islands National Park provides visitors with one of the best sea kayaking opportunities the system has to offer. This park is a world class destination for sea kayaking due to the accessibility of the beaches, the stunning sea caves, and beauty of the clear ocean waters. Be sure to research the landing areas you wish to visit to ensure the beaches, docks, and coves are open.
Let’s stay in the Golden State to showcase the thrills to be had at the famous Joshua Tree National Park. Two activities that have become increasingly popular are highlining and slacklining. Being an ultimate test of balance and focus, park staff underscore the importance of good safety practices to protect not only visitors but the park’s resources as well.
Our national parks stretch beyond just the U.S. mainland. About 1,000 miles southeast of Florida are the United States Virgin Islands, which is home to Virgin Islands National Park. With over 40 percent of the park being underwater, USVI National Park gives visitors an array of snorkeling opportunities that will give you unforgettable experiences underwater.
Admit it, at some point in your life you had, or may even still have water skiing on your bucket list. Lake Mead National Recreation Area provides boaters more than 290 square miles of waterway to use at their pleasure. The Nevada Division of Wildlife and the Arizona Game and Fish Departed have guides of rules and regulations for visitors to abide by in order to utilize the water skiing privileges, so be sure to read up on what’s possible before heading for the lakes. Water skiing is only permitted during hours of daylight.
There are few things more adrenaline pumping than whitewater rafting. What could possibly be better? Well how about rafting between two converging rivers, the Green and Yampa Rivers, at Dinosaur National Monument? The best time of the year to visit is between May and September to take advantage of the complete summertime feel. Some areas of the monument may close during the winter due to snowfall.
We’ll bring our attention back to our nation’s capital and focus on Rock Creek Park. Located in northwest Washington D.C., Rock Creek Park is home to a large recreational field that can be used for pickup games of football, as well as soccer and field hockey. The field can be accessed at 16th and Kennedy Streets and is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Reservations can be made through the DC Department of Recreation.
If climbing is how you get your thrills, Wyoming’s Devils Tower National Monument is a must-experience site for you to visit. Its rocky structure with parallel cracks between the hexagonal columns allows visitors to scale the nation’s first national monument. You are required to register (which is free) before the climb and checking in upon return.
Which of these sports do you head into the parks to enjoy? Find us online and share which electrifying experiences you seek out! And if you’re looking for other parks to discover, hikes to take, or places to stay, be sure to check out our free Owner’s Guide series! Now get out there and #FindYourPark!
Photo credits: Roller Skating at Anacostia Park by Samuel Dixon Photography. Highlining at Joshua Tree National Park by NPS/Daniel Elsbrock. Rafting at Dinosaur National Monument by National Park Service. Mountaineering at North Cascades National Park by Ida Vincent; Sea kayaking at Channel Islands National Park by Aaron Echols; Snorkeling at Virgin Islands National Park by Nancy Reynolds; Mountain biking at Canyonlands National Park by Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom; Horseback Riding at Glacier National Park by Ben Masters; Rock Climbing at Devils Tower National Monument by Robert Rosen via Share the Experience.