The U.S. National Park Service was founded on August 25th, 1916 and 61 areas hold the title of “national park”. Imagine visiting all 61 of them, that would mean you would have to travel to two U.S. territories and 29 states. Over 300 million people visited national parks last year. The National Park Service can sometimes struggle with providing educational and recreational opportunities while also trying to conserve the cultural and natural heritage of the park.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited national park in 2018, over 10 million people visited this park alone. But sometimes it’s nice to get away and see a not so crowded park. National Geographic released an article listing the 10 Least-Visited U.S. National Parks and we are here to tell you about one of them, the Virgin Islands .
The Virgin Islands National Park is made up of over 7,000 acres. From the reefs to the ridge tops, the park owns over 5,000 acres of the submerged land surrounding the island. This means that the coral, fish, migrating birds, and other marine life are protected by the park.
There are different Ranger- Guided tours that are available. The Reef Bay Trail gives its visitors the opportunity to learn about those who called the area home. Ancient rock carving, stone walls, and eve sugar plantation ruins still linger on the island. This helps demonstrate the change that the island has continuously gone through over the many years of inhabitants. The trails can get a little tricky. It is advised to bring the appropriate shoes and plenty of water. Snacks and bug spray are both good things to bring along as well.
The Discover Bird Watching Hike, goes on every Friday. Francis Bay Trail and salt pound gives bird lovers the opportunity to view the migratory birds and the birds that live on the islands. The Friends of Virgin Islands National Park even offers a winter seminar series. The option to hike with local and park scientist is offered along with snorkeling or kayaking as well. For more information on the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, click here.
Safaris bus drivers also offer guided tours of the island. They usually last two to three hours and they give amazing views of the beaches and remnants sugar plantations. The tour will begin at Cruz Bay on the public ferry dock and it will also end there.
Here are some safety tips the park includes on their website.
Valuables should not be left unattended, just because it is a national park doesn’t mean things won’t get stolen. All you will need for this trip is some snacks and water, there is no need to bring any valuables with you.
When swimming, use reef-safe sunscreen. The whole point of a national park is to help save the wildlife inhabiting the area. If you do decide to swim, remember there is marine life which means there is a possibility of getting stung/bitten. Be prepared
Mosquitoes. Those tiny bugs can do a lot of damage. The Virgin Islands National Park warns visitors of mosquitoes. Most diseases are spread after a lot of rain and especially during the rainy season. Make sure to bring bug spray and if you are bitten, make sure to watch out for symptoms of diseases that are carried by mosquitoes. Click here for more information.
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