The National Park Service is made up of 412 recognized sites covering more than 84 million acres across the United States and its territories. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. Though millions visit America’s more than 400 parks every year, not everyone has the opportunity to visit legendary Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks in their lifetime!
The National Park Centennial Challenge Presented by Humana allows Charity Miles users to #StartWithHealthy by visiting four national parks without ever leaving home, all while improving their health and supporting the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service, in its mission to enrich America’s national parks and programs.
Jim Nicolarsen Yellowstone NP Share the Experience
What better place to begin your virtual journey than where it all began? Yellowstone National Park was established as the world’s first National Park in 1872, long before the National Park Service was created. The park spans three states and sits atop a volcanic hot spot that fuels gushing geysers and steaming hot springs. Visitors are privileged to share the park with hundreds of animal species, including bears, wolves, bison, elk, and antelope. While the park has thousands of miles of trails from day hikes to backcountry explorations, Mystic Falls Trail, located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park is perhaps the most well-traveled. At only 2.4 miles long, Mystic Falls Trail provides a unique park experience even for the most inexperienced hiker. The trail is located along the Little Firehole River which begins high on the Madison Plateau near the western edge of the park and offers an excellent place to take photos or simply enjoy the view.
Jason Jeffries Bryce Canyon National Park Share the Experience Photo Contest
There is no place in the world quite like Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. The park is best known for its iconic hoodoos, a unique collection of pillar-shaped rock formations that you have to see to believe. Over 1.5 million people visit the park each year to enjoy the dramatic vistas and of course hiking. The best way to combine the two is to hike our second virtual trail, Queens Garden Navajo Loop Trail. This 3.5-mile hiking trail highlights breathtaking views of the hoodoos-dotted landscape that are iconic symbols of the American West.
Saurabh Ray Shenandoah Share the Experience Photo Contest
Two thousand miles or so to the east, Shenandoah National Park is known for its beautiful secluded streams and rivers. Our third virtual trail exemplifies both, and is one of Shenandoah’s most beautiful: Rose River Loop Trail. This loop offers four miles of moderate-level hiking terrain accented by the sounds of calm running water.
Jonathan Barnes Acadia National Park Share the Experience Photo Contest
Our fourth and final virtual trail is popular among more advanced hikers and explorers. Sargent Mountain Loop in Acadia National Park winds visitors along a 5.5-mile stretch of rocky terrain that rises to the summit of Sergeant Mountain for a breathtaking vista that is worth the climb. You have the advantage of being able to log your 5.5-mile virtual trail on any elevation and terrain you wish! You may not be able to enjoy the view from the summit, but you will earn a virtual trail badge.
Complete all four of the virtual trails highlighted above to earn all four official National Park Centennial Challenge virtual trail badges. Share your badge on social media to celebrate the National Park Service centennial coming up on August 25th, and be sure to thank your sponsor Humana for their donation!