But often lost in our focus on those 59 nationally protected areas is the extensive system of smaller, but equally mesmerizing, Between Alabama's two big beach towns -- and more importantly, between the Hangout Music Festival and Flora-Bama bar -- sits a little section of undeveloped coastline set aside for the outdoor enthusiast. And why not -- our national park system is one of this country's most spectacular treasures.
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Like a lot of places in Alaska, it takes a short bush-plane ride to reach this park, but the flight is definitely worth it.
Kachemak rocks miles of coastline frequented by whales, dolphins, and sea otters, as well as 400,000 acres of mountain and glacial wilderness through which to hike.
And, so things don't go south like in that Krakauer book, the park also has plenty of cabins and yurts where you can spend the night.
One of the more forgotten parts of FDR's famous New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps, an organization charged with creating green space throughout the country.
Part of that effort was the establishment of state parks like this one nestled in the Ozark Valley.
Here, you can sit on tranquil Lake Devil (created when they dammed Lee Creek), explore some of the country's coolest caves, or hike on 20 miles of horse trails.
While nobody would ever accuse Arizona of lacking in gorgeous places to appreciate nature, there's a problem with most of them: they're outside!
And dry heat be damned, outside is the LAST place you wanna be in Arizona for much of the year.
So thank Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, who in 1974 found this undiscovered cave where today you can enjoy calcite formations and other-worldly rocks without experiencing any of the state's aforementioned "dry heat." The biggest problem with Big Sur -- the most beautiful place in California -- is that in order to enjoy it for more than, like, four minutes, you've either gotta shell out a month's rent for a hotel room or back up traffic on Highway 1.
Which is why you're gonna want to hit this gem instead.
Here, if you're not hiking up 3,000ft ridges, admiring the redwoods, or gazing into an 80ft granite-cliff waterfall, you can scuba dive in one of the best dive spots on the West Coast. You'd think in a state with legal marijuana that they could come up with a more creative name than State Forest State Park, but hey, maybe they were too busy marveling at all that year-round beauty. Here you can enjoy classic Colorado -- hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling -- while hanging out with about 600 moose.