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As national parks go, Shenandoah is not a heavyweight. It is gorgeous, to be sure, packed with forests, waterfalls and overlooks, all connected by Skyline Drive winding through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Still, this is not nature on the scale of parks like Yosemite or Glacier. But filmmaker Ken Burns says that's not the point.

"The experience of the national parks isn't just spectacular natural scenery," Burns says. "It's who you see them with, whose hand you're holding, at the rim of the Grand Canyon, or in Yosemite, or in my case at Shenandoah National Park."

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK GUIDE: What to do, where to stay and more
PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES: Glacier | Great Smoky Mountains | Rocky Mountain | Yosemite | Yellowstone

In the video above, Burns shares the touching story of the first and only road trip he took with his father. It was 1959, Burns was six years old, and his dad took him to Shenandoah.

"We drove up into clouds ... he scattered deer with his horn, we stopped off at a little cabin. We caught salamanders. We think we saw a bear," Burns recounts.

"I can still remember the warmth of my father's hand as we walked together, and him describing every tree, and plant, and animal that we saw. It was just this magical time."

Burns says the experience left such an impression on him that years later, he recreated it with his second daughter Lily.

This time, Burns says, "we did see bears."

YOUR TAKE: Share your own national park photos

As co-creator of the PBS series America's Best Idea: The National Parks, Ken Burns and his team spent months filming in national parks across the United States.

Burns sat down with USA TODAY and shared the secrets of Glacier and nine other national parks for a special 10-part series, "Secrets of the National Parks."

Check back with USA TODAY Travel weekly for new installments of "Secrets of the National Parks," featuring Ken Burns' insights into nine other parks including Yosemite, Yellowstone and more.

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