This blog post was updated on September 28, 2018.
International Picnic Day is celebrated each and every June 18th with predictably a meal in the great outdoors. Food often tastes just a little bit better when you are surrounded by mountain meadows, babbling brooks, ocean waves or a simple park. Summer is also a great time for a picnic, especially throughout the U.S. national parks. These stretches of protected and awe-inspiring land provide ideal settings to whip out a picnic. Some National Parks make picnics just a little bit more dramatic and inspiring. Pack your basket and head to these three appealing picnic-ready National Parks.
Crater Lake National Park: In terms of picnic perches, Crater Lake seems to rise above the rest, literally. Especially in the summer months, the deep, pure lake surrounded by cliffs stretching around 2,000 feet high provides ideal spots to throw down a red and white checked tablecloth and riffle through a picnic basket. The five-mile lake in Oregon features a number of viewpoints and picnic areas along Rim Drive, the 33-mile road encircling the lake. With views of the deep blue of Crater Lake and its two islands, it can seem like the best peanut butter sandwich you’ve ever had.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: There is a reason why Great Smoky Mountains National Park is frequently the most visited national park in the country. This park encompassing the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is much more than just a wilderness area. Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains a rich plant and animal life, including black bears. In addition, you can see mountain rivers, panoramic views, mystical forests and nearly 80 historic structures in the park such as log cabins and mills. Picnickers have a wealth of settings to choose from for their national park meals. Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains dozens of picnic areas such as Cades Cove, Greenbrier and Look Rock. To work up or off an appetite, you can roam over 800 miles of trails, too.
Haleakalā National Park: Located along Maui’s southern and eastern coastline, picnickers have yet another appealing spot to enjoy a meal in the great outdoors. The area is taken over by Haleakalā National Park. Across 30,000 acres, the park sprawls with a number of different natural environments. The park is also home to Maui’s highest peak, rising 10,023 feet above sea level. You can head up to such great heights, particularly at sunrise. The Haleakalā Visitor Center is a popular perch to watch the sunrise. You can pack a morning picnic for this event. Late risers can also find corners of the park to eat lunch. As there are no food services in Haleakalā National Park, a picnic is practically mandatory.