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Top Five by the National Parks

In an attempt to make your summer vacation go better than a Chevy Chase National Lampoon fiasco, we've compiled a guide to those National Parks that combine some of the country's most divine backcountry with some unexpectedly good golf. Maybe the National Park Service (www.nps.gov) was onto something when it named its all-in-one entry program ($65, 888-467-2757) the Golden Eagle Passport.

1. Glacier National Park, West Glacier, MT (406-888-7800). Cruise (slowly) the stunning fifty-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, which sweeps past lakes, waterfalls and glaciers. Hike, backpack, climb, swim, fish, boat, bike or ride horseback. About 1,000 campsites (800-365-2267) and seven lodgings, most open from June through September (406-756-2444).

The Golf: Northern Pines Golf Club, Kalispell, MT (www.golfmt.com; 406-751-1950). Architects: Andy North and Roger Packard, 1996. Yardage: 7,015. Green Fees: $30-$45. Moundy, links-style venue with grass and sand bunkers and four holes along the Stillwater River. Lodging: Grouse Mountain Lodge (800-321-8822), a wood and stone wonder overlooking Whitefish Lake Golf Club (406-862-5960; green fees, $32-$37). The club has thirty-six holes and is a solid second choice to Northern Pines.

2. Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME (207-288-3338). Explore nearly 50,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and rugged ocean shoreline by foot, kayak, canoe, sailboard, bus, bike, or horse-drawn carriage. One of two campsites (800-365-2267) is open year-round.

The Golf: Kebo Valley Club, Bar Harbor, ME (207-288-3000). Architects: Herbert Leeds, 1894, and Shirley Liscombe, 1900. Yardage: 6,131. Green Fees: $35-$69. This classic design (America's eighth oldest) features mountain views from valley fairways and a number of blind shots. Walter Hagen ranked the 435-yard eighth among the toughest he ever played. Lodging: The Willows Mansion at the Oakes, a 1913 estate with ocean views (800-336-2463).

3. Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon, AZ (520-638-7888). Encompassing 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands reaching to 8,000 feet, this World Heritage Site offers some of the best white-water rafting in the world. Visit ancient ruins or ride a mule down to Phantom Ranch Lodge. South Rim campsites are open year-round, those on the North Rim are open May through October; call 800-365-2267. Six in-park lodges (303-297-2757) are open year-round. Book early.


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