You’ve Never Heard These Quirky Things About American National Parks

The secret land deals and bear lunch spectacles that made the National Parks what they are today.

There’s a level of reverence reserved for America’s National Parks that few other institutions receive. They protect what is perhaps the best and most sacred part of the country–its natural wonders. They feel as if they’ve always been these immovable pillars of American life, like they sprang into being, fully-formed and solidified in their hallowed stations. And yet there are still plenty of quirks and oddities that dot their histories and indisputably gorgeous landscapes.

Will Visiting Theme Parks Ever Be the Same?

Face masks. Physical distancing. Temperature checks.

On May 11, while almost every other theme park in the world was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and struggling with details on how to reopen safely, Shanghai Disneyland became the first park to actually test the waters and do it. They reopened (to a reduced but sold-out crowd)—with caution and precautions—ending the longest park shutdown in Disney’s history (107 days). If you’re curious about what the future of theme parks looks like, it’s happening right there, right now. Why does it matter? Shanghai Disneyland’s reopening gives other parks a blueprint to consider in their own plans and is proof that a surprising number of people are ready and willing to return to theme parks despite the big changes, new rules, and inherent virus risks. Here’s the scoop on what the theme park experience will likely look like going forward, who is doing what, what is in the works, and when you can expect your favorite park to reopen.

The 10 Most Dangerous Volcanoes in the U.S. Ranked

These American volcanoes pose significant threats to “American lives and property.”

The good news is, according to the United States Geological Survey, there are eight fewer volcanoes in the U.S. that pose a threat to “American lives and property” than there were in 2005. The less good news is, that still leaves 161 volcanoes, with 18 of them being rated as posing a “very high threat.” The study, which came out in 2018, looked at several factors, including proximity to populated areas and potential disruption to transportation routes, to determine which volcanoes posed the biggest threats. It should be noted that when a volcano erupts can’t be predicted with absolute certainty, some of the following volcanoes may not even erupt in our lifetime—but if they do, the results could be catastrophic.

10 Insanely Spooky Stories About Alien Encounters in America’s Most Mysterious State

It’s not just a state, it’s a state of mind.

New Mexico is the universe’s hottest Airbnb for extraterrestrial life looking to kick back, relax, perform bowel-churning experiments upon the human body for dark and unknowable purposes, and see some of the local wildlife. The state boasts a long, proud history of paranormal and extraterrestrial happenings, and its main export (aside from computer accessories and integrated circuitry) is tales of the weird and otherworldly. Here are 10 of the best stories about New Mexico’s, ah, unique landscape.

Where Can You Travel? What’s Open? What’s Closed? Here’s the Current Status for All 50 States

The states are starting to reopen. But is it wise to venture out?

[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article that originally ran on May 19.] As the United States begins to relax its shelter-in-place orders and some emerge from their homes, many are counting the days when we can get back out there and travel, even if it’s by car to a neighboring community or state. But as we know, a very different landscape awaits out there than the one we left earlier this winter at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. There are things travelers must consider that we never did before, including social distancing and personal sanitization. The big question is: Is it safe to travel in the United States? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pretty clear in its stance. It’s recommended that you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential. Social distancing still needs to be practiced, especially if you are in a higher risk category or an older adult. You shouldn’t travel if you feel sick, or travel with someone who is sick. And you need to protect yourself and others by knowing how to prevent the virus from spreading.  Perhaps the most hopeful advice comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. According to him, summer travel “can be in the cards.” He urges caution, since we risk COVID-19 spreading rapidly if proper precautions are not taken. “When infections start to rear their heads again,” he says, “we have to put in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace, and make sure we don’t have those spikes we have now.” As long as we’re aware that “getting back to normal is not like a light switch that you turn on and off,” he says, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy. So the answer is: We’re not quite there yet. The best thing to do is pay attention to the several-phase reopening plans that each state has developed, outlining when hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, outdoor areas, etc., should be open for business and what precautions they must take. Some states are freer than others—and that’s something to consider. Do you really want to be on a beach where social distancing guidelines aren’t being maintained? It’s a whole new world that we’ll be navigating, literally. The guidelines are fast-changing and it’s hard to keep up, but here’s where they stand today, state by state.

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