6 Protected Parks & Nature Reserves To Visit In 2018
In 2018, we want to spend more time outside.
We’re committed to learning more about nature, both at home and abroad. And we want to support the critical conservation work happening all over the world—work that not only preserves earth’s biodiversity but minimizes human impact on the wild.
Wherever your travels are taking you this year, we encourage you to visit nearby parks and protected lands and to learn about the conservation efforts that are underway. If you’re able, spend time volunteering with a project. Learn more about the pristine environments and consider making a donation. These protected areas need our support to stay protected and undergo further research.
To help get you started with trip ideas, here are six parks we hope to visit in 2018!
Location | Puerta Varas, Chile
If you are taking a trip to South America this year, make sure to set aside a few days for exploring and learning about one of South America’s largest and most diverse conservation endeavors, Pumalín Park. Located in the Palena Province of Chile—also known as Northern Patagonia—this public-access park is 715,000 acres of pristine wilderness and the perfect place to explore both land and sea.
Established in 1991 by the late Douglas Tompkins—founder of The North Face—the park was initially developed to protect the primeval native temperate rainforest of Reñihué Farm from logging. Conservation efforts soon expanded though, and now the park encompasses much of the remaining Chilean wild and protects the land from development and ecological threats.
Recreation | The park is well-equipped with campsites, cabins, and public facilities for both short and long stays. Numerous trails lead to waterfalls, volcanoes, and look-out points. There are also opportunities to kayak through the fjords, climb peaks and glaciers, and observe wildlife.
Get Involved | Volunteer and internship opportunities for those interested in dedicating one to six months at the park are listed online. There are also reading resources, learning materials, and a link to financially support preservation efforts.
Learn more about Pumalín Park online
Triglav National Park
Location | Northwest Slovenia
Consider skipping the tourist-magnet that is Western Europe this year and opt for a visit to Central or Eastern Europe. Underrated and generally more affordable, these countries have just as much to offer visitors and are overflowing with scenic landscapes and rich cultural heritage. And this couldn’t be any more true than in Triglav National Park.
Located in the southeastern section of the Alps, Triglav National Park is the only protected land in Slovenia and one of the oldest parks in Europe; it was originally founded in 1924. Covering over 200,000 acres—roughly 4% of Slovenia’s territory—the park is dedicated to preserving the unique cultural heritage and natural landscape in the Alps. Marked by crystal clear lakes, untouched forests, rocky peaks, and friendly villagers (who are known for their local cheeses!), Triglav National Park is the perfect place to learn about and support conservation efforts in Europe.
Recreation | Visitors are welcome to use the park for hiking, permitted water sports, cultural events, guided tours, and more. For the most adventurous travelers, mountain guides offer 2-day treks to the top of Triglav Peak.
Get Involved | The park doesn’t advertise volunteer opportunities, but guided tours, workshops, and events allow visitors to learn more about the work being done, as well as financially support conservation efforts. Learn more and plan your trip by visiting the park website.
Learn more about Triglav National Park online
Fiordland National Park
Location | Southland, New Zealand
The largest national park in New Zealand and a World Heritage site, Fiordland was established in 1952 and has been called a ‘cherished corner of the world.’ With ice-carved fjords, rugged mountains, and breathtaking views, the landscape is truly magical.
Overseen by the Department of Conservation, efforts to preserve wildlife, natural fauna, and biodiversity are underway. With the help of Fiordland Conservation Trust—a community-driven support initiative—various projects and partnerships are executed to preserve the natural habitat that is Southland, New Zealand.
Recreation | Fiordland is incredibly popular for outdoor recreation including multi-day treks, short nature walks, camping, marine activities, and exploring the Sounds.
Get Involved | Visit the Fiordland National Park Visitor Center at the beginning of your trip to learn about guided nature walks, endangered birds, and how to support current projects.
Learn more about Fiordland National Park online
Everglades National Park
Location | South Florida
When we think of national parks in the United States, we often think of snow-capped mountains, expansive deserts, and rugged terrain. Farther south though, the Sunshine state boasts an unparalleled and mysterious landscape, commonly referred to as the Everglades.
Founded in 1947, Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres of South Florida and is America’s largest subtropical wilderness. Among other recognitions, the park has been named a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve; it is home to some of North America’s most unique and endangered wildlife species. Historically, it has also been a settlement to Native tribes and village communities. While once at risk to drainage and development, conservation efforts have helped these wetlands to thrive and remain a wild and wonderful habitat.
Recreation | Biking, camping, nature walks, bird watching, and fishing are all favorite activities in the Everglades. Guided tours are also available to visitors.
Get Involved | If you are interested in supporting Everglades National Park, consider volunteering your time with one of the many on-site projects or contributing a financial donation. You can learn more on the park’s volunteer page.
Learn more about Everglades National Park online
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Location | Honolulu County, Hawaii
Deemed the rainforest of the sea, Papahānaumokuākea (pronounced Pa-pa-hah-now-mo-koo-ah-keh-ah) is the largest, contiguous, and fully protected conservation area under United States governance. Founded under the Obama administration, the park covers 582,578 square miles of the Pacific Ocean (that’s three times the size of California) and is one of the most significant marine conservations in the world. The area is home to more than 7,000 marine species, many of which are rare and endangered, as well as to 22 species of seabirds and the Hawaiian monk seal.
In 2010, the park was recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site and, this past year, it was named a Global Ocean Refuge.
Recreation | Unfortunately, at present, the park is not open to visitors due to recent reductions in refuge staff and operational capacity; future visitation options are being considered. We wanted to include this protected area on our list though as the work being done is crucial to the future of our planet. Furthermore, travelers can visit exhibits that showcase marine life and artifacts from the area while in Hawaii. Learn more about Monument Access on the website.
Get Involved | Check to see if your Hawaii trip coincides with an outreach event or consider volunteering your time. Visit the website for specific information about ways to get involved.
Learn more about Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument online
Namib Naukluft Park
Location | Windhoek, Namibia
Are your travels taking you to Africa in 2018? If so, consider visiting Namibia. Off the beaten path and not well-known for tourism, this southwestern country is a perfect place to explore Africa’s wild landscapes, as well as beautiful coastlines. It is here that you will find the oldest desert in the world.
The Namib Naukluft Park is over 19,000 square miles and was proclaimed an ecologically protected area in 1979. Composed mainly of picturesque sand dunes—including the highest to be recorded—the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife including leopards, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, and the bat-eared fox. Part of the park was also named a World Heritage Site in 2014.
Recreation | Camping, desert drives, star gazing, game spotting, and hot air ballooning are all common activities in the park.
Get Involved | Support for the Namib Naukluft Park comes mainly in the form of visitation and supporting the local economy by participating in guided activities. We also encourage you to ask about ongoing support and conservation efforts during your stay. Visit the Namibia information website to learn more.
Learn more about Namib Naukluft Park online
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.