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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

National Parks Hall of Fame: Ranger Rated

No one knows the national parks better than the rangers who patrol them. We polled a bunch of insiders on their favorite national park sights, sounds, and tastes.

by: Jim Gorman

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Best New Park
Congaree, SC
A cross between Everglades and Olympic, this 27,000-acre preserve (est. 2003) contains the largest remaining old-growth floodplain forest in the country. And rangers provide free, guided canoe tours.

Most Underrated Park
Theodore Roosevelt, ND
"Once people see the wildlife, the breathtaking view of red, tan, yellow, purple, and green hills, and then come back to the visitor center–the look on their faces is priceless," says Kelly Neumann, a ranger at nearby Mt. Rushmore.

Best Sunset
Eagle Mountain, Joshua Tree, CA
Hike up this mile-high peak (10 strenuous miles round-trip) to watch shimmering pinks and purples rise from the desert like a heat mirage.

Best Milkshake Huckleberry Shake, Grand Teton, WY

1. Good huckleberry shakes are rare.
2. This one, at the Pioneer Grill, comes with a fantastic view of the Tetons.

Best Rescue Ranger
Mike Gauthier
Nineteen-year veteran of search-and-rescue at Mt. Rainier (and now a Capitol Hill staffer), Gauthier participated in 300 rescues. One involved 10 climbers who were dangling in midair after an avalanche swept them off of their feet.

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