Photo Credit: Aftab Uzzaman

Long dubbed “America’s best idea,” the centennial anniversary of the national park system pays homage to the U.S.’s most spectacular protected lands. A year-long celebration of the landscapes, recreation and preservation that make our country great, these places of incredible natural beauty are as much a source of national pride as they are a place of personal introspection. Whether you’ve visited one or all of them, there’s no better excuse to head into the great unknown for another reminder. It's a party in the parks, and you need to be part of it!

Here are a few ways we suggest celebrating:

Photo Credit: Steve Corey

Check Something Off Your Bucket List

There are certain national parks that are so incredible, so special; you just have to see them at least once in your lifetime. In fact, they’re so memorable, you’ll want to return again and again to explore every nook, cranny and hidden gem. Travel the Grand Canyon by train, road trip to see Utah’s Mighty 5 in Seven Days, or do one of the iconic epic hikes like the Narrows in Zion to truly appreciate the awesomeness of the outdoors.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Taylor

Go Off the Radar

Sure the big names like the Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite are iconic and bucket list worthy, but they also are the most crowded and touristy. With 58 official national parks in America, there are bound to be a few incredible outdoor spaces you’ve overlooked. Spend some time appreciating these lesser-known gems as a way to get off the grid and truly get one-on-one with nature. Here’s our list of the most underrated.

Photo Credit: WestonStudioLLC

Trek Away

If you’ve been feeling inspired by movies like Wild and wondering if you could brave a multi-day backpacking trip across the country, the John Muir Trail is a great way to whet your whistle. A 211-mile hike that can be completed in anywhere from 15-21 days, the route contains some of the most photographed images of American that includes the likes of Yosemite, Mt. Whitney and Sequoia National Parks. Comparatively shorter than its Triple-Crown Trail siblings: the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Continental Divide, it’s an entry level expedition for intrepid adventurers.

Photo Credit: Nagaraju Hanchanahal

Explore Your Own Backyard

If you don’t have the time to spend weeks in nature, start small with a weekend or day-trip right in your own backyard. We’ve outlined our favorite hikes in all 50 states that include everything from picturesque waterfalls to alpine lakes and everything in between from hard, altitude-gain to short quarter-mile jaunts. Summer fun starts as soon as you decide it does so what are you waiting for?