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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.

Steepest Trail
Angel’s Landing, Zion
“Half of my extended family took a look at the traverse, which involves holding onto large chains bolted into the rock, and promptly sat down,” says Kale Bowling, lead interpretive ranger at Lava Beds.

Best Wildlife Comeback
Wolves in Yellowstone
From an initial release of 23 adults and pups in 1995, the park’s wolf population has grown to 125. Bonus: Elk, coyote, beaver, and red fox populations are all healthier.

Best Campground
Squaw Flat, Canyonlands
Located in the heart of The Needles District’s sandstone formations and adjacent to many trails, this campground’s 26 sites are bare-bones but shaded. Use it as a base for dayhiking to Chesler Park, Druid Arch, and the dark and narrow Joint Trail.

Best Waterpark
Rancheria Falls, Yosemite
On the way to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Rancheria Creek drops through a series of tubs, pools, sluices, and one very fast slide. Bring a closed-cell foam pad for a cushy ride.

Best New Park Policy in Last 20 Years
Mandatory Bear Canisters
Required at Denali since 1992, canisters have reduced Yosemite’s backcountry bear incidents from more than 200 annually to 32 (last year). They’re also used in Grand Teton, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon.

Best Burger
Grand Canyon
Get the grilled one-third pounder at Maswik Lodge Cafeteria.

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