15 national parks that'll remind you how beautiful the world really is.

Nature is awesome, right?

Fresh air, picturesque sights, local flora and fauna — it's all pretty great, but we don't give nearly enough credit to the people who keep it that way. Pardon the pun, but nature just doesn't come, uh, naturally.

100 years ago, the U.S. National Park Service was formed and tasked with conserving "America the Beautiful." They've been doing a pretty bang-up job of it ever since.


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

In honor of the agency's 100th anniversary, here's a list of 15 national parks (and a national seashore) you'll want to add to your bucket list.

1. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Warm weather? Check (it's Hawaii, after all). Beaches? Check. THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS TWO ACTIVE VOLCANOES? Check.

Image by jshyun/Flickr.

2. Glacier National Park

Here's one you may want to check out sooner rather than later. Why? Well, the park used to be home to somewhere around 150 glaciers! Now? There are just 25. In the future, there may be none. To paraphrase "Total Recall," get your ass to Montana.

Image by Andrew Kalat/Flickr.

3. Channel Islands National Park

This park is made up of five of the eight Channel Islands off the California coast. Why just five of eight? Well, you know how in high school, there'd be kids who were like, "You can't sit with us!" at lunch and then you'd silently cry in the bathroom and eat your lunch alone in the auditorium? (OK, those last few parts are probably just me...) It's my guess that it's something like that, but I'm probably wrong. But in addition to that, there are beautiful beaches, stunning rock formations, and warm weather.

Image by David Wan/Flickr.

4. Everglades National Park

If you're ever in the mood to see an alligator up close (but hopefully not too close), Everglades National Park is a great place to do it. The swampy Florida ecosystem is unique, and not exactly what you'd find in Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, or wherever it is you, dear reader, are from.

Image by Diana Robinson/Flickr.

5. Zion National Park

Combining forests with epic rock formations, Zion National Park is a must-see stop should you be traveling through southern Utah.

Image by Zion National Park/Flickr.

6. Cape Cod National Seashore

What makes this eastern Massachusetts seascape so special? Well, it happens to be home to Marconi Station (if you happened to read that as "macaroni station," you are not alone), the site of the first two-way transatlantic radio transmission, and that's just way cool. It's known for its bike trails along with its views of Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Image by Jasperdo/Flickr.

7. North Cascades National Park

I'm going to be honest: I put this on the list simply because it's home to the Picket mountain range. What's so interesting about that, you ask? The names of the mountains within: Mount Fury, Mount Challenger, Poltergeist Pinnacle, Mount Terror, Ghost Peak, and Phantom Peak! POLTERGEIST FREAKIN' PINNACLE? That sounds like a badass roller coaster, and now I want to ride.

Image by Rachel Samanyi/Flickr.

8. Denali National Park and Preserve

Denali National Park in Alaska is home to Denali (obviously), the highest mountain in North America. It's also home to a little bit of everything else: forests, glaciers, rock formations, mountains. Plus, it's absolutely gorgeous.

Image by Denali National Park/Flickr.

9. Grand Canyon National Park

It's the Grand freakin' Canyon. NEXT!

Image by Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr.

10. Arches National Park

As its name would suggest, Arches National Park is home to a number of arch-shaped rock formations. The coolest thing, though, is probably Balanced Rock, a formation that includes an upper portion "balancing" on the lower. If you visit, please do not throw rocks at Balanced Rock in hopes of toppling it. Resist the urge!

Image by Arches National Park/Flickr (cropped).

11. Yosemite National Park

If you're a fan of giant sequoia trees, this is the park for you. In addition to some glorious rock formations, there are three groves of ancient sequoia trees in Yosemite. With its high granite cliffs, the park provides some of the most amazing views you'll see anywhere on Earth.

Image by Matt Savener/Upworthy.

12. Yellowstone National Park

This is the O.G. of national parks, going way back to 1872. It's home to some kickass geysers (what up, Old Faithful), hot springs, incredible wildlife, and so much more. You've heard of it ... now get with it and visit!

Image by Yellowstone National Park/Flickr.

13. Acadia National Park

Here's one very special reason to visit Acadia: the sunrise. Cadillac Mountain is located within the Maine park, and it's the first place in the United States where you can see the sun rise each morning. How awesome is that?

Image by TravelUSA/Flickr.

14. Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles is a newbie to the National Park System (it was added in 2013), but it still brings the heat when it comes to dishing out that national park goodness. Mountains? Got 'em. Trees? Yep. What makes it special, though? Well, it's home to the success story of the almost-extinct but slowly recovering California condors. Victory!

Image by Stanislav Sedov/Flickr.

15. Joshua Tree National Park

This desert national park is found in Southern California. Named after the Joshua tree (no, not the U2 album), it's a pretty cool change of pace from your usual national park experience.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

So happy birthday, National Park Service! You're looking good for a centenarian! Here's to your continued success!

Interested in visiting a nearby national park? Check out the list of free days at parks around the country.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."