Grenada-The Spice Island

At one time, Grenada produced more nutmeg than any other spot in the world,except for Indonesia. Richly endowed with ideal conditions for growing tropical fruits and spices, the “Isle of Spice,” in the southeastern Caribbean Sea just north of Venezuela,grew more spices per square mile than any other place on earth, kitchen staples like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves,bay leaves,...

Great Smoky Mountains

The fact invariably stated about Great Smoky is this: It is the nation's busiest park, drawing more than nine million visitors a year, twice the number of any other national park. Most of the millions see the park from a mountain-skimming scenic highway that, on a typical weekend day during the summer, draws 60,000 people, bumper-to-bumper. Luckily, there is plenty...

Shark Valley To Everglades City

The Tamiami Trail  forms part of the park's northeastern border. Near the eastern park entrance, stop at the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Here is a 15-mile loop road accessible only on foot, on bike, or, year-round, on a 2-hour, narrated tour aboard an open-sided concessioner tram. You will not see sharks. The valley gets its name from the Shark River;...

Royal Palm To Flamingo

The main park road connects the main entrance, southwest of Florida City, with Flamingo on Florida Bay. Make the drive an exploration, not a dash. Stops at the suggested sites can be made on the way to or from Flamingo, depending upon when you want to board a concession tour boat there. At the Ernest F. Сое Visitor Center,get oriented...

Everglades National Park

A short parade of visitors follows a ranger on an Everglades nature walk. For more than an hour she has shown them the living wonders around them—butterflies and snails, alligators and fish, and bird after bird. Near the end of the walk, she gathers the visitors around her. She points to a string of nine white ibis coursing a...

Brandywine Falls &. The Ledges

Perhaps the park's most-visited natural feature, Brandywine Falls cascades over a staircase-like series of sandstone-covered shelves in the eastern part of the park, reached by a walkway to viewing platforms, one high and another lower, at streamside. The falls' winter aspect can be just as striking as that of spring's high water, with flows and icicles creating a white...

Canal Towpath Trail

A few decades ago, the notoriously polluted Cuyahoga River seemed an odd choice to be at the heart of a national park. The Cuyahoga (an American Indian word meaning "crooked") is far cleaner today, after extensive rehabilitation efforts. Though park personnel still don't recommend swimming or boating, the river corridor serves as a thread of life running 22 miles...

Cuyanoga Valley

If there is one word that typifies Cuyahoga Valley, it might well be "surprise." To begin, many people are surprised by the simple fact that a national park exists in northeastern Ohio, between the sprawling cities of Cleveland and Akron. In fact, it hasn't existed for long: Cuyahoga Valley was given national park status only in 2000. Visitors find more...

Boardwalk Trail

In this woodland, giant loblolly pines and hardwoods rise to a canopy higher than in the Amazon rain forest. Loblolly pines rise up more than 160 feet to reach the sunlight, and some majestic old bald cypresses measure more than 25 feet in circumference, their leafy crowns shuttering the world below into a landscape of liquid echoes in shades...

Congaree

Say the word "swamp," and the first image that probably comes to mind is of a wet, sticky, mosquito-infested mire that few people would want to visit. Such an image certainly might have kept some visitors away from Congaree Swamp National Monument, a 22,000-acre forest in South Carolina. Yet, after the monument gained national park status in November 2003—and dropped...

Biscayne

Biscayne, a seascape in watercolor, offers vistas ashore and beneath the sea. Standing on the park's narrow shore, you look out upon a bay that is tranquil on the surface and teeming with life below. Aboard a glass-bottom boat or, better yet, on a snorkeling tour, you look down and see some of that life—dazzlingly colored fish, fantastically shaped...

Reef Cruise

At Convoy Point, the glass-bottom boat's home port and site of Dante Fascell Visitor Center, you can get an orientation to the bay's unique flora and fauna before setting out. A cruise for boaters or snorkelers takes about 3 hours. Cruises for scuba divers last longer and cost more. The center of the boat's deck is a rectangular viewing chamber....