For our last 2 discovery meetings, our new clients were interested in visiting the National Parks with the family, so we decided to highlight a few favorites. Since they are 60 national parks in the US and they're divided into 7 regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Inter-Mountain, Pacific West, Alaska, Nation's Capital), we're going to highlight a couple of regions at a time. First, we'll focus on Southeast and the Northeast.
We're starting with our favorite and our closest park to the DC area. Covering about 200,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Shenandoah is an excellent park for all seasons. Skyline Drive is the most popular section, allowing visitors to drive 105 miles from one end of the park to the other. There are also 500 miles of hiking trails for those who want to take things a little slower. Foxes and bobcats frolic throughout the winter, which also affords an opportunity to spot foraging deer and turkeys. Birds of many feathers can be spotted in warmer weather. Breathtaking views of the Shenandoah River Valley abound year-round. One of our favorite hikes -- and we believe it's one of the best trails in the Southeastern US -- is Old Rag Mountain hike. There's a boulder scramble at the top where you need to climb, crawl, and scramble to the top. Please exercise caution on this part of the trail because the rocks can be slippery, the trail is narrow, you need to use your feet and hands to ascent, and it might be difficult to reach the summit on your own.
Featuring Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the East Coast and one of the first places in the U.S. to see sunrise each morning, Acadia is the oldest designated national park east of the Mississippi River. Covering several islands off the coast of Maine, the park is an excellent destination for birdwatchers and rewards hikers with stunning ocean views. The area was first inhabited by the Wabanaki people and later became the site of the first French missionary colony in America. To reduce summertime traffic congestion, the National Park Service is working on a new transportation plan to keep the park a beautiful and enjoyable destination.
Protecting rare and endangered species such as the manatee, the American crocodile and the Florida panther, the park covers 1.5 million acres of wetland. There is an abundance of wildlife to see, from herons to dolphins. A 65-foot observation tower in Shark Valley lets visitors take in an expansive view of the wilderness. For those wanting to go a little deeper, there are ranger-led slough slogs (wading) through a cypress dome, and camping is permitted along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, which takes a week to traverse by canoe.
Recovery efforts were just underway in the wake of Hurricane Irma in September 2017 when Hurricane Maria blew in, bringing further destruction. But the park, which takes up about two thirds of the island of St. John, plus almost all of Hassel Island, presses on. There are still traces of the Taino people who inhabited the islands before European discovery in 3,000-year-old petroglyphs. There are remnants of sugar plantations. Visitors can go boating, stop at pristine beaches and even help monitor sea turtles.