Best national parks: Mid-America

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Best National Parks- Middle America
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Best national parks: Mid-America

Little River Canyon, Alabama

(Photo: SeeMidTN.com/Flickr)

Little River Canyon, Alabama

(Photo: Robert Goodwin/Flickr)

Little River Canyon, Alabama

(Photo: johnbrian/Flickr)

Cumberland Gap, Tennessee 

(Photo: howderfamily.com/Flickr)

Cumberland Gap, Kentucky/Virginia line

(Photo: Sisterbeer/Flickr)

Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Tennessee 

(Photo: Outdoor_Adventure_Training/Flickr)

Mammouth Cave National Park, Kentucky

(AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

Mammouth Cave National Park, Kentucky

(AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File)

Mammouth Cave National Park, Kentucky

(AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

Ozark National Scenic Riverway, Missouri 

(Photo: CMFRIESE/Flickr)

Ozark National Scenic Riverway, Missouri 

(Photo: U.S. Dept. of the Interior/Flickr)

Ozark National Scenic Riverway, Missouri 

(Photo: CMFRIESE/Flickr)

Atchafalaya River, Louisiana

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Atchafalaya River, Louisiana

(Photo: DidierB77/Flickr)

Atchafalaya River, Louisiana

(Photo: nousku/Flickr)

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

(Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr)

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

(Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr)

Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma 

(Photo: NPS Park Cultural Landscapes Program/Flickr)

Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma 

(Photo: kimadababe/Flickr)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas 

(Photo: mlhradio/Flickr)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas 

(Photo: thor_mark/Flickr)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas 

(Photo: kittell/Flickr)

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas

(Photo: MiguelVieira/Flickr)

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas

(Photo: Vincent Parsons/Flickr)

Natchez, Mississippi

(Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr)

Natchez, Mississippi

(Photo: FabFemme/Flickr)

Niobrara River, Nebraska

(Photo: Overduebook/Flickr)

Niobrara River, Nebraska

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Effigy Mounds, Iowa

(Photo: greenheron47/Flickr)

Effigy Mounds, Iowa

(Photo: tinydr/Flickr)

Lewis and Clark Trail, Runs through Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington

(Photo: mypubliclands/Flickr)

Lewis and Clark Trail, Runs through Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington

(Photo: mypubliclands/Flickr)

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

(Photo: Drewski Mac/Flickr

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

(Photo: Cletch/Flickr)

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

(Photo: Chicago Man/Flickr)

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

(Photo: betsyweber/Flickr)

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

(Photo: Betsyweber/Flickr)

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

(Photo: RTD Photography/Flickr)

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

(Photo: Corvair Owner/Flickr)

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin 

(Photo: Posnov)

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin 

(Photo: TimWilson/Flickr)

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota 

(Photo: jck_photos/Flickr)

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

(Photo: dishfunctional/Flickr)

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

(Photo: Jvstin/Flickr)

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

(Photo: Chiot's Run/Flickr)

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

(Photo: AR Nature Gal/Flickr)

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

(Photo: Jvstin/Flickr)

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By LISA KIRSHNER & MAGDALENA GUILLEN

Summer is officially here -- and that means summer vacation.

Whether you escape the hectic workweek with a weekend getaway or have the opportunity to take a longer break, summer is all about exploring the outdoors and connecting with mother nature.

If you are a thrill seeker, water adventurer, camping or hiking type, we have the perfect national park for you to explore. Below, we will be highlighting some of our favorite destinations, but click through the slideshow above to see more parks you can visit this summer.

So let's start our journey through some of America's greatest national parks! Our second stop: Mid-America.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

The world's longest cave system -- 400 explored miles to be exact -- reflects some of "humanity's most potent emotions" ... wonder and curiosity. Stories about the cave almost sound like fiction, and the rugged trails will make you feel as if time is standing still.

Include these on your to-do list:
  • What's a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park without a tour of the caves? Currently boosting more than 10 impressive cave tours, there is an adventure waiting for everyone. Take a look here for a list of tours offered this summer.
  • Explore the Green and Nolin rivers by boat, canoe or kayak! The rivers run at about 5 miles per hour, so no matter what your experience level is, you can enjoy the majestic scenery and beautiful surface springs with ease.
  • Get some one-on-one time with nature with any of the six trailheads at the park. Whether exploring the trails on foot, horse, or bike there's 84 rugged miles of back and front country you can wander on.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

If you are looking to de-stress but don't want to completely submerge yourself in nature, indulge in the soothing, thermal waters of Arkansas. Nicknamed "The American Spa," many come to Hot Springs National Park to heal and relax.

If you are only staying an hour, a day or more, make sure to include these on your to-do list:
  • Exploring the park for an hour or two: Tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse and learn more about the traditional bath routines that made the bathhouse a place where the rich and poor went to escape.
  • If you are staying for a day or less: Take a traditional bath at the Buckstaff Bath House or experience the thermal waters in the modern Quapaw Baths and Spa experience.
  • Indulge in all day activities: Make sure to partake in all of the activities mentioned above, and take a drive around the park's scenic mountain roads. If you're craving for more physical activity, hike along one of the park's many walking paths and eat your lunch at one of the hot springs' picnic areas.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Visitors to this park often come back for its 21 islands and 12 miles of majestic mainland. Not only do visitors get lost where water meets land and sky, but also experience a unique blend of cultural and natural resources in the Jewels of Lake Superior.

Include these on your to-do list:
  • Travel among the islands in the most popular way: Kayaking. Experience the beauty of Lake Superior up close and personal with kayaks, and make sure to take a tour to the majestic mainland sea caves.
  • Hunters rejoice! Regulated hunting and trapping is permitted in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, click here to find more about the state regulations and what is permitted at the park.
  • Clear water, underwater rock formations, and fascinating shipwrecks make for an incredible scuba diving experience. Make sure you check the marine conditions beforehand.
What are some other parks in mid-America you've visited? Tell us in the comments below.
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