Detour implemented near Tupelo, MS on July 19

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Detour implemented near Tupelo, MS on July 19

Release Date: July 15, 2021
Contact: Mandi Toy, mandi_toy@nps.gov, 662-680-4017 

Detour implemented near Tupelo, MS on July 19 

Temporary closure from Milepost 257 to 262 

TUPELO, MS – The Natchez Trace Parkway and nearby Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail will close to all traffic including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians beginning July 19, 2021. A detour will be implemented from Milepost 257 to 262. 

The detour will provide safer site conditions for construction workers who are paving the motor road, access ramps, and scenic pullouts. It will also enhance safety for park staff and national park visitors while the work is in progress. The detour will be in place from Pontotoc Parkway (Milepost 257) via Highway 45 to McCollough Blvd (Milepost 262). The closure includes the Cliff Gookin Blvd and Main Street parkway access ramps. Travelers are encouraged to follow the signed detours to navigate around the closure. 

The Blackland Prairie section of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail will be closed from the Jackson Street Trailhead to McCollough Blvd. Hikers may still enjoy the Northern most section of trail from Old Town Overlook (MP 263.9) to the Northern Terminus Trailhead (MP 266). 

The closure is anticipated to last until early October. This is the first of two planned closures that are part of a road improvement project around Tupelo, MS. The second closure will be north of Milepost 262 and near Park Headquarters later this year. Updates to the road status will be made when available on the park website at www.nps.gov/natr and on Facebook @NatchezTraceParkwayNPS, or call (800) 305-7417. 

www.nps.gov

These Are The Greatest American Roads You Can Travel By Motorcycle

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These Are The Greatest American Roads You Can Travel By Motorcycle

Hitting the road on a motorcycle is truly a freeing experience, and these All-American roads are exactly the escape you need.

Few things compare to riding a motorcycle on the open road. The air feels fresh and exhilarating. Being outdoors and on the move boosts the mood. Sounds and sights seem closer. The experience puts the rider in closer contact with the surrounding landscape. That’s a huge advantage when taking a sunny summer road trip on All-American Roads. These are stretches of highway recognized by the national government as having scenic, natural, historic, recreational, archaeological, or cultural significance. In all, there are 39 All-American Roads, but these are some of the most astounding:

7. Natchez-Trace Parkway, Mississippi, Alabama, And Tennessee

Riding the Natchez-Trace Parkway from start to end non-stop takes about ten hours, but motorcyclists will want to spend longer. This stretch of road is 444 miles long. There are scenic overlooks like the Bird-Song Hollow Double Arch Bridge at milepost 348. Travelers can see Jackson Falls at milepost 404.

…continue reading from thetravel.com here.

Credit: thetravel.com

Planned Road Repair near Tupelo, MS in Near Future

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Planned Road Repair near Tupelo, MS in Near Future

Five mile sections of Parkway roadway will be completely closed to traffic between milepost 257 (HWY 6 / HWY 278)) and 266 (Visitor Center) starting some time around mid- to late July. The process of repair will take 4-5 months, depending on weather.

Read the alert from NPS here.

More from WTVA here, as well.

New superintendent named for Natchez Trace Parkway

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New superintendent named for Natchez Trace Parkway

National Park Service (NPS) acting Regional Director Pedro Ramos announced the selection of Douglas “Doug” Neighbor as the new superintendent of Natchez Trace Parkway, Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site and Tupelo National Battlefield, effective Aug. 15.

Read the article from Lewis Herald County here.

“Doug is an established leader deeply committed to the protection and enjoyment of iconic national treasures, like Natchez Trace Parkway,” Ramos said. “He is poised to tackle the challenges of public safety, climate change, cultural heritage preservation and conservation there with creativity and resolve. We look forward to welcoming Doug as he builds on the park’s long-standing engagement with visitors, partners and neighbors.”

“I am honored to be selected as the next superintendent to lead Natchez Trace Parkway and its associated sites,” Neighbor said. “Although Natchez Trace Parkway is a thin ribbon passing through the great states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, the park’s impact is wide. The incredibly rich history, cultural landscapes, cultural resources and historic structures are crucial to the gateway communities, affiliated tribes and key stakeholders and I look forward to collaboratively strengthening those ties.”

Neighbor is a 30-year veteran of the National Park Service with 27 years dedicated to the field of resource management. Since 2014, Neighbor has served as the superintendent for Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico where he is responsible for more than 46,000 acres, 119 known caves and an annual operating budget of more than $5.4 million.

Neighbor also previously served as superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, Big Thicket National Preserve and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. He was instrumental in establishing the Gulf Coast Inventory and Monitoring Network, Exotic Plant Management Team program and the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit for the gulf coast spanning Florida to Texas. He has led impactful Indigenous community and tribal relations efforts, created a multi-partner forest restoration program, established a science and learning center, and developed a partnership initiative that resulted in the discovery of many species new to science.

Before joining the NPS, Neighbor worked with Texas A&M University as a research assistant and as a wildlife biologist with the Texas Park and Wildlife Department.

Neighbor is the son of a U.S. Air Force Vietnam War veteran navigator and fighter pilot whose tours of duty allowed his son to experience life growing up in five states, Zeist Netherlands and Goose Bay, Labrador. Thirteen relocations and a high school graduation later, Neighbor earned a Bachelor of Science in wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M University.

Neighbor looks forward to returning to the southern region and being in closer proximity to his father in Austin, Texas and four siblings. Neighbor enjoys hiking, photography, sailing, boat-building and other fine woodworking projects. He has hiked the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and anxiously awaits the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail.

Continue reading the full article from Lewis Herald County here.

Leipers Fork, TN to Muscle Shoals, AL: 7 Adorable Country Towns To Experience

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Leipers Fork, TN to Muscle Shoals, AL: 7 Adorable Country Towns To Experience

On a clear April day, the lazy Buffalo River near Linden, Tennessee, was even lazier in the warm sunshine, its steady current breezily pushing our kayaks along the green-covered shores.

Read the article from travelawaits.com.

Along the banks, a couple of fat cows startled as we floated on by, and the indignant squawk of blue herons punctured the vast quiet of this rural Tennessee landscape. While not as impressive as the massive Tennessee River, the Buffalo River is Tennessee’s longest tributary of the Duck River, weaving 125 miles along the rolling hills of central Tennessee.

Our guide this day was Michael Dumont, a Rhode Island native who, along with his wife Kathy, purchased the old Commodore Hotel in the heart of Linden. The couple bought the architectural gem in 2007, and Michael’s background as a developer helped the couple restore the building to its current boutique hotel status. 

In addition to hosting guests at the hotel, which was named one of “Six Great Places to Stay in Tennessee,” the Dumonts also rent and lead kayak tours of the scenic river through the hotel.

…. continue reading on travelawaits.com.

Journeys of Discovery: Exploring the possibility explorer Meriwether Lewis didn’t commit suicide

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Journeys of Discovery: Exploring the possibility explorer Meriwether Lewis didn’t commit suicide

Historian Tony Turnbow (second from right) talks with journalists in front of the Grinder House on the Natchez Trace in Monument, Tennessee. Photo credit: Ryan French

Article courtesy of kcbx.org.

Franklin, Tennessee historian and attorney-at-law Tony Turnbow, envestigates the possibility that Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, didn’t commit suicide in 1809. Turnbow shares compelling circumstantial evidence that Lewis was actually murdered and robbed while traveling along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee.

Turnbow also shares fascinating insights about Aaron Burr and how he might have been involved in Lewis’s murder. Turnbow, the author of Hardened To Hickory—The Missing Chapter in Andrew Jackson’s Life also shares fascinating tales about Jackson and his connection with the Natchez Trace military route from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi.

Underwriting support for Journeys of Discovery provided by Nashville’s Big Back Yard economic initiative focused on rural communities in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and the Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryiHeartRadioApple Podcast.

Journeys of Discovery: A conversation with Franklin, TN historian–From Civil War to Civil Rights

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Journeys of Discovery: A conversation with Franklin, TN historian–From Civil War to Civil Rights

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Eric Jacobson, CEO of the Battle of Franklin Trust. Jacobson talks about the last major battle of the Civil War, The Battle of Franklin in Middle Tennessee, November 30, 1864.

He also shares insights about the complex legacy of the Civil War—from advances in medicine to the advent of the KKK. How the 1915 Hollywood film Birth of a Nation and the 1939 debut of Gone With The Wind propelled the advocates who believe that the war was actually a “War of Northern aggression”.

But most importantly Jacobson shares his optimistic faith in the critical thinking skills of the generation of Americans who came of age in the post civil-rights era.

The town of Franklin and the Tennessee antebellum St. Peter’s Episcopal Church located on the outskirts of Mt. Pleasant are featured destinations along the fabled Nashville’s big Back Yard tour route featuring small towns along the Natchez Trace National Parkway all the way down to the legendary Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.

Underwriting support for Journeys of Discovery provided by Nashville’s Big Back Yard economic initiative focused on rural communities in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and the Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryiHeartRadioApple Podcast.

Natchez Trace Parkway Named A Top Family-Friendly Campground in the US

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Natchez Trace Parkway Named A Top Family-Friendly Campground in the US

The Natchez Trace was named one of the top-family friendly campgrounds from travelpulse.com. Read the full article here.

Exploring the history and natural beauty of the Natchez Trace — once the most important travel route between Mississippi and Tennessee

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Exploring the history and natural beauty of the Natchez Trace — once the most important travel route between Mississippi and Tennessee

This historic spot is the Natchez Trace, once the most important travel route in the Old Southwest. While only a smattering of the original path exists today, the trail and its rich history are preserved via the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway. Built between 1938 and 2005, the parkway follows the path of the original Trace, winding northeast from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee.

Read the full article from chicagotribune.com

Remembering the Chickasaw Homeland and Tennessee’s “Trail of Tears”

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Remembering the Chickasaw Homeland and Tennessee’s “Trail of Tears”

Read the full article from the memphis100.com.

In 1837, the 4th of July wasn’t a day of celebration for the 3,000 Chickasaw people gathered in Memphis that day. Instead, as part of the Great Removal under President Andrew Jackson, they were forced to gather their possessions and leave western Tennessee on what became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

Considered one of the “Five Civilized Tribes,” Chickasaw families followed the paths of other Indigenous peoples like the Creek, who had used Memphis as the transit point across the Mississippi River.

The Chickasaw Nation ultimately claimed new territory in Oklahoma, but their legacy still dots the Tennessee landscape.

– Carlisle Willard, Contributor

Camp, hike, paddle and fish: Enjoy the outdoors at these 5 great places near Jackson

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Camp, hike, paddle and fish: Enjoy the outdoors at these 5 great places near Jackson

From visiting a town that no longer exists to exploring a swamp, there’s a lot to do in the outdoors within a short drive of Jackson, including the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Read the full article from clarionledger.com here.

‘Fighting Devil’s Backbone’: A story about the Natchez Trace

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‘Fighting Devil’s Backbone’: A story about the Natchez Trace

Read the full article on williamsonherald.com.

A widow with two sons and no family to help her, Sarah Perkins faced a bleak future remaining in Pennsylvania with her boys in 1809, so she got them passage on a keelboat to Nashville.

From there, they would take the Natchez Trace, which ran from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi and the southwest Mississippi frontier.

“Imagine the courage that took,” said Tony Turnbow, a Williamson County attorney turned historian and author.

Just eight years earlier, in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson sent soldiers to convert the Natchez Trace, an old Indian trail running from Nashville to the busy seaport of Natchez, Mississippi, into a wagon highway. It was one of the first highways built by the federal government.

In his first children’s book, “Fighting the Devil’s Backbone; The Shadow of E.Z.’s Fear,” Turnbow brings that piece of history to life with tales of “cutthroat” bandits, Indian raids and spies who terrorized those traveling along the Natchez Trace, better known as the “Devil’s Backbone.”

Perkins and her boys traveled down the Cumberland River to Nashville, where they disembarked and the boys experienced the first of many new adventures.

After meeting other families heading for the Natchez Trace and a new life, they joined their wagons and continued on to Franklin, staying at Whites Tavern on Margin Street — where the Old, Old Jail, aka the McConnell House, is now located — and waited for a few more families to join them. Meanwhile, the boys had a number of encounters, adventures and learned more about the wilderness they were about to enter.

“The [original] Natchez Trace had several different trails and roads,” Turnbow said. “At that time, it started at Granny White [Pike], and the Indian Trail ran through Franklin to Leiper’s Fork at Garrison Creek and continued southwest from there. This is an early period of our history — a missing part the early history of Franklin.”

In 1809, the southwest frontier offered land and possibilities. Many influential people came through the Williamson County area on their way to New Orleans and other Southern towns, Turnbow said.

In “Fighting Devil’s Backbone,” E.Z. (pronounced “Easy”) and his younger brother, David, find as the “men of the family” they have to quickly learn survival skills to provide for their mother and the community of people with whom they travel the dangerous route.

“The Natchez Trace became the ‘Cradle of Southern Culture,’ where people from the Northeast and East Coast started out heading further southwest to find homes,” Turnbow said. “People wanted the opportunity to own their own land. All the good land had already been purchased in the East.”

…. continue reading on williamsonherald.com.

Blackland Prairie Trail gets a facelift

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Blackland Prairie Trail gets a facelift

Natchez Trace Parkway has partnered with the Southeast Conservation Corps to improve Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail sections and increase stewardship awareness. Last week, with a generous donation from the City of Tupelo through the Healthy Hometown Award, the crew rehabilitated the raised boardwalk near Chickasaw Village.

“The help of our partners and nearby communities is critical in keeping the trails open and safe and developing a sense of stewardship. We encourage people to get outside and enjoy them” noted trail coordinator Logan Mikus. 

The Parkway maintains over 60 miles of hiking trail designated as Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail by the National Trails System Act “to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities.”

Top Ten Nature-Infused Reasons To Come And Play In Nashville’s Big Back Yard

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Top Ten Nature-Infused Reasons To Come And Play In Nashville’s Big Back Yard

Read the full article from timesnews.net.

LEIPERS FORK, Tenn., April 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Nashville’s Big Back Yard is a natural watershed area south of Music City ready to be explored.  This giant playground features scenic vistas, rivers, streams, parks and natural areas. Anchored by 100 miles of the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, Nashville’s Big Back Yard is made up of 12 connected small towns and The Shoals region of North Alabama. Here are the top ten reasons to come and play in our Big Back Yard.

Natchez Trace Parkway named one of Top 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2020

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Natchez Trace Parkway named one of Top 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2020

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Natchez Trace Parkway was ranked one of the Top 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2020, according to the National Park Service.

The Natchez Trace Parkway ranked number seven on the list with 6.1 million visitors. See the full list from the National Park Service below:

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway – 14.1 million
  2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area – 12.4 million
  3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 12.1 million
  4. Gateway National Recreation Area – 8.4 million
  5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area – 8 million
  6. George Washington Memorial Parkway – 6.2 million
  7. Natchez Trace Parkway – 6.1 million
  8. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park – 4.9 million
  9. Cape Cod National Seashore – 4.1 million
  10. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – 4.1 million

Read the full article from wjtv.com.

Ridgeland re-brands spring festival at Renaissance

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Ridgeland re-brands spring festival at Renaissance

Read the full article from onlinemadison.com.

RIDGELAND — As outdoor activities begin to return statewide, officials here say they are looking forward to an art and wine festival slated for late April and early May.

The Ridgeland Tourism Commission, the city of Ridgeland and The Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center announced Art, Wine and Wheels will take place April 30 through May 2 at the Renaissance at Colony Park. 

Ridgeland Tourism Commission Executive Director Chris Chapman that they will be launching the weekend with a rebranding. She said the weekend includes the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival hosted by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission and the Natchez Trace Century Ride hosted and put on by the city. The Sante South Wine Festival benefiting The MIND Center UMMC has been postponed until 2022, but will also have a presence that weekend in the form of sampling kiosks sponsored by the event.

“We are so excited to not only unveil a new look for the weekend but to also be one of the first returning festivals in the state this year,” Chapman said. “We look forward to safely welcoming both visitors and locals to enjoy the best Ridgeland has to offer — all in one weekend.”

The weekend was announced Tuesday, March 9, at a press conference that included Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee, Chapman and others.

“Over the last 12 years, this all-encompassing weekend in Ridgeland has grown to include fine arts and wine festivals with live music and great food, a 5K race and a bicycle ride that brings in hundreds of folks from all over the U.S.,” McGee said. “This is a wonderful event for the city of Ridgeland and offers such a variety of activities for people of all ages.”

Visit Ridgeland Director of Marketing & PR Savannah Tirey said that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, event partners are focused on safety. She said this comes with some changes. All events will be outdoors and socially distanced and masks, though not mandatory, will be encouraged and provided.

“The city of Ridgeland follows state guidelines, so masks will not be mandatory, but are encouraged,” she said. “We will be providing masks and hand sanitizer throughout the festival for whoever may be in need. We also have an amply spaced and open-air footprint to ensure social distancing is maintained.”

The arts festival portion has been around for about 12 years and has often been accompanied by other events, such as the Century Ride. Tirey said the event has attracted thousands of people from all over the United States.

New outdoor activities will include a kick-off party and concert on that Friday night, a pups park and food trucks. Live music for the kick-off party will be provided by Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster Band on April 30, marking the first time the event will start on a Friday evening.

Tirey said that the Sante South Sampling Palate kiosks will have a presence during the Ridgeland Fine Arts Fest, the kiosks are a part of the Sante South Wine Festival benefitting the MIND Center at UMMC as the organization has partnered with Alzheimer’s Mississippi. SSWF is currently postponed until 2022.

“After the year we’ve had, we look forward to getting outside and celebrating the best Ridgeland has to offer,” Tirey said.

5 Places to Learn About Black History Along the Natchez Trace

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5 Places to Learn About Black History Along the Natchez Trace

By Kristin Luna + Scott van Velsor

While the land populating the Natchez Trace dates thousands of years before the Civil War, there are plenty of sites along the parkway that tell the story of Black history in the American South from slavery to the civil rights movement through the present. Don’t drive the Natchez Trace without making these stops.

Jackson

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened in 2017 as a way to pay homage to and tell the stories of the Black populations who were enslaved, discriminated against, bullied and murdered. Part of the Two Mississippi Museums, the civil rights museum paints a sobering picture of Black strife in the Southern states through pictorial exhibits, facts, broadcast clips and sound effects from actual lynchings. While not for the faint of heart, the facts contained within this museum are an extremely important part of the nation’s past, so if you do just one thing in Jackson, tour the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Clinton

This Mississippi town of 15,000 residents was the site of one of the bloodiest acts of racial violence in the state’s history. In 1875 at the beginning of Reconstruction, Senator Charles Caldwell held a rally of more than 1,500 people, the majority of whom were freed men and their families, in anticipation of that fall’s election. The white mobs showed up, killing more than 50 people—the majority of whom were Black men—in the days that followed. This massacre helped spark the Mississippi Plan. Four months later, Sen. Caldwell was also assassinated. The city is recognizing this history by building an interpretative center at the site of the Clinton Riot.

Clinton has a self-guided walking tour available on a separate website that you can use via your phone while you explore the area.

Natchez

The Forks of the Road Slave Market, just outside of the city of Natchez, was by some measures one of the most prolific marketplaces for the internal slave trade in the United States. Thousands of enslaved Blacks were traded here from the north, along the Natchez Trace and, ultimately, to Southern plantations as the demand for labor increased and the prohibitions on the international trade of slaves came into effect in the early 1800s. It’s estimated that 1,000 human beings were bought and sold each year in this very spot.

Currently, the Forks of the Road is only marked by a sign and a concrete slab filled with manacles and chains, though the Natchez National Historical Park plans to expand the Forks of the Road into a full-on interpretative center in the future. While you’re in Natchez, be sure and also check out the African American Museum of History and Culture to continue expanding your knowledge of Black history in the South.

Tupelo

Tupelo’s history is rooted in music, and without the jazz and blues that emanated from Shake Rag’s restaurants, cafes and performance venue’s in the Roaring Twenties, North Mississippi’s music scene might look very different today. Tupelo’s historically Black community, Shake Rag was located alongside the railroad and most famously gave rise to a Tupelo-born musician by the name of Elvis Presley, who grew up next door and was heavily influenced by the neighborhood’s powerful sound.

In the 1960s, Shake Rag was demolished to make way for an urban renewal project, its residents relocated. Today, the shiny, new Tupelo Visitors Center sits on what was once the hallowed Shake Rag ground, paying tribute to the historical figures who shaped this neighborhood’s identity through interactive exhibits that are free and open to the public.

Nashville

Newly opened in downtown Nashville this winter, the 56,000-square-foot National Museum of African American Music shares the central role Black artists have played in shaping more than 50 genres of music, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and hip hop.

National Park visits – Surprising statistics about last year’s visitors

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National Park visits – Surprising statistics about last year’s visitors

Read the full article from rvtravel.com.

Pandemic points

The total number of visits to national parks in 2020? Some 237 million national park visits. Yes, that is down, and a considerable amount, some 28%. Much of that can be attributed to park closures and park restrictions brought about by the earth-engulfing pandemic.

But as people were sent home from schools and workplaces, for some, home became an unwelcome prison, rather than a haven. National park visits became a furlough for many. Some of the nation’s park units actually saw record numbers of visitors, even though they were closed part of the year. In total, 66 of the system’s 423 parks were shut down for two months or more. Others, featuring plenty of open air, stayed open.

… continue reading on rvtravel.com.