Happy birthday to our parks

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service! Celebrate this milestone with a visit to a park in the new all-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.

Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the very first national park in the world. But it took another 44 years for Congress to create the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Today, there are 59 national parks in the U.S. covering over 84 million acres of land. While Yellowstone is the oldest, California’s Pinnacles National Park, created in 2013, is the newest; they also join a growing list of national monuments, too. To celebrate this most noteworthy anniversary, take a road trip to a uniquely American treasure. These five off-the-beaten path areas are worth the adventure.

Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Take a deep breath as you stand on the rocky rim of southwest Colorado’s Black Canyon and peer down the 2,000 feet to the raging Gunnison River below. So narrow is this crack in the earth, and so vertical are its sides, that the river below gets a maximum of just 33 minutes of direct sunlight a day. And, there are some jaw-dropping driving roads around the Canyon. The East Portal Road at the south rim leads to the river via a series of turns and 16 percent grades. Then there’s the gravel road leading to the Canyon’s North Rim and its six breathtaking overlooks. That’s when you’ll really appreciate the 4MOTION® all-wheel drive system of the Golf Alltrack.

Getting there: Drive 14 miles northeast from Montrose, Colorado, or 264 miles from Denver. More info: www.nps.gov/blca

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Nestled among some of the most rugged and visually stunning mountains in the southeastern U.S., the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park plays Eden to hikers, bikers, campers, anglers and wildlife watchers. Herds of mighty elk roam the valley, and the Cove Creek Road, a part-gravel, part-paved two-lane road, snakes along, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the new Golf Alltrack. And in autumn, Cataloochee is a magnet for leaf peepers as the sugar maples, hickories and scarlet oaks don their spectacular autumn regalia.

Getting there: The three main entrances to the park are in Gatlinburg, TN; Townsend, TN; and Cherokee, NC. More info: www.nps.gov/grsm

Geology Tour Road, Joshua Tree National Park, CaliforniaJoshua Tree National Park

California’s Joshua Tree National Park is a popular destination, with more than 2 million visitors in 2015. But at 1.2 million square miles, it’s huge—so there’s room for everyone. To have fun getting to know the Golf Alltrack and get a flavor of the park’s magnificent landscape, take a drive on the unpaved Geology Tour Road. You’ll only need to traverse the first five or six miles to encounter some of the most dramatic scenery — and appreciate how nimbly the Golf Alltrack can handle road conditions. Visit at night, and you’ll enjoy a beautiful stargazing experience unique to the West.

Getting there: Take Park Blvd. from Twentynine Palms, California or Joshua Tree. More info: www.nps.gov/jotr 

155227687_BigBend_RFDagger Flat Auto Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas

National parks don’t come much more remote than Big Bend. Straddling the Rio Grande with West Texas on one side and Mexico on the other, it’s one of the least-visited national parks. Yet make the 242-mile trip from Midland, Texas, and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular scenery, including the soaring Chisos range, massive canyons and a wild river. After adventure-seekers pack their trail-smart gear into the expansive storage of the Alltrack, they tend to turn to the rugged Dagger Flat Auto Trail, which passes through forests of dagger yucca trees, as well as the 14-mile Old Maverick Road, which moves through the Terlingua Creek Badlands down to the banks of the Rio Grande. Important: Roads like those discussed here are subject to weather-related closings from time to time, so always call ahead or check the NPS website before you go.

Getting there: It’s 28 miles from Terlingua, Texas, or 559 miles west from Dallas to the park’s main entrance at Panther Junction. More info: www.nps.gov/bibe

Driving in Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park

During spring, summer and fall, Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park is a watery wonderland with over 30 lakes and more than 900 islands to explore. Strap a kayak to the roof of the Alltrack so you can paddle to your heart’s content when you get there. In fact, for most of the year, a kayak or motorboat is the only way you can reach the park’s remote Rainy Lake area. But come winter, pack your cross-country skis—or borrow snowshoes free of charge from Visitor Center—and you’re ready for a day in the powder.

Getting there: From Duluth it’s three hours drive, or five hours from Minneapolis-St.Paul. More info: www.nps.gov/voya

 


Alltrack in Motion
The 2017 Golf Alltrack was born for the great outdoors. With the 4MOTION® all-wheel drive system, and cargo space for your outdoor gear, the versatile and affordable Golf Alltrack can be a master of the roads less traveled.

Under the hood is a turbocharged and direct fuel-injected 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder which can deliver 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. It’s quick off the mark, relaxed and refined on road trips and offers an EPA estimated 36 mpg on the highway.1

And, much to the excitement of enthusiasts everywhere, it’s also offered with an available six-speed manual transmission in addition to a six-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic.

While every new Golf Alltrack comes exceptionally well-equipped, these cool accessories available from Volkswagen DriverGear make it, or select other Volkswagen models, even more adventure ready.

5 Pedal-Perfect Parks
Planning a visit to one of America’s National Parks? Then take your bikes with you. Nearly every park has great biking trails, but which are the best for family-friendly biking? Former champion cyclist and Volkswagen cycling ambassador Tim Johnson shares his top five choices.

1. BRYCE NATIONAL PARK, SOUTHWEST UTAH
“This is biking paradise, with a seemingly endless number of great paved trails through the amazing red rocks. The best.”

2. ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE
“The park has about 50 miles of well-maintained, car-free carriage roads that offer amazing views. The Eagle Lake circuit is a blast.”

3. GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, CALIFORNIA
“Biking is an amazing way to see the San Francisco area. Ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and up into the Marin Headlands.”

4. GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING
“Start in Jackson and ride the Grand Teton Multiuse Parkway. The views are a good excuse to stop your ride and take a breather.”

5. ZION NATIONAL PARK, SOUTHWEST UTAH
“This place is really special, with great biking trails and spectacular scenery. Try the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive or the Pa’rus Trail.”