Parks

Parks

59* parks to visit! 31 down, 28 to go!

Next up: Alaska National Parks

Current Rankings (Click to see my personal rating system)

  1. Congaree (SC)
  2. Smoky Mountains (TN/NC)
  3. Grand Teton (WY)
  4. Hawaii Volcanoes (HI)
  5. Mammoth Cave (KY)
  6. Everglades (FL)
  7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison (CO)
  8. Great Sand Dunes (CO)
  9. Badlands (SD)
  10. Wind Cave (SD)
  11. Theodore Roosevelt (ND)
  12. Guadalupe Mountains (TX)
  13. Hot Springs (AR)
  14. Bryce Canyon (UT)
  15. Acadia (ME)
  16. Shenandoah (VA)
  17. Rocky Mountain (CO)
  18. Yellowstone (WY)
  19. Crater Lake (OR)
  20. Glacier (MT)
  21. Big Bend (TX)
  22. North Cascades (WA)
  23. Carlsbad Caverns (NM)
  24. Canyonlands (UT)
  25. Arches (UT)
  26. Capitol Reef (UT)
  27. Cuyahoga (OH)
  28. Mesa Verde (CO)
  29. Zion (UT)
  30. Haleakala (HI) 
  31. Grand Canyon (AZ)

*There are currently 61 National Parks – but two are on American territories that we will not be visiting. At least not until we have a lotttt more money. Also, did you know that the St Louis Arch and Indiana Dunes were just promoted to National Parks a few months ago??


  • Kenai Fjords National Park - Next up on the Alaskan adventure, we headed to Kenai Fjords National Park after our time in Denali. Over half of Kenai Fjords is covered by glaciers; together all called the Harding Icefield, which is why the park itself is primarily experienced on the water.  From Denali and Anchorage, Seward is only a couple hours away on a beautiful coastal highway. Seward, the park headquarters, is a cute port town that is bustling with tourists.  We got to enjoy this...

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  • Denali National Park - After my disappointing experience with the Arctic Parks, Mike and I headed to the crown jewel of Alaska; Denali National Park. We arrived late morning, so we grabbed my Junior Ranger booklet, talked to the rangers, and made a game plan.We’ve been walking the fine line of spontaneity and still getting tickets/reservations/etc. Sometimes it bites us in the butt, but we got veryyyy lucky and were able to reserve the very last campsite for the following evening at Wonder Lake...

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  • Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks - From Wrangell St Elias, we headed up north to check out the Arctic parks; Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley. The first thing you should know about these parks… they are ridiculously hard to get to. For both parks, the majority of people fly into the parks. And most of those people just do a flightseeing tour and that’s about it. It is so so so expensive.  Gates of the Arctic was a tiny bit easier for us to...

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  • Wrangell-St Elias National Park - After an extremely long drive from Washington, through Canada, with many $100+ gas fill ups, new tires, and more…. we made it to Alaska! We tried to visit Glacier Bay first, but we found out that the ferry to the park was booked for more than a week. So, we headed up another 15 or so hours up to the largest National Park in the United States… Wrangell-St. Elias! This park is 13 million acres; larger than the 6 smallest...

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  • North Cascades National Park - After dropping Ry off at his hostel in Portland, we headed up to Washington; Mike on his bike, me in the car. We had plans to go to Bellingham, as that’s where my friend’s, Beth and Lauren, live. They are going to watch Luca for us while we go to Alaska (I’m already crying about leaving him).  We decided to check out North Cascades National Park before heading over to their house since it wasn’t too far. Like most parks,...

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  • Crater Lake National Park - After a long drive that felt surprisingly short, we made it to Port Orford, Oregon to watch Ry finish the American Trail Race. We were watching his tracker and made it along the trail to cheer him on. We didn’t have service where we were at, so we just hung out awhile and enjoyed the nature… and wine. I found an amazing bottle of wine at a local store that has it divided into four glasses already! It was amazingggg. ...

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  • Glacier National Park - After Yellowstone, we headed towards Glacier National Park! I was super excited for this park; I had heard so many wonderful things from everyone and I had never been here. First though, we stopped in the town of Bozeman and got our life together again i.e. we showered. We continued along the way and slept outside of the park. Okay, it was in a Montana saloon, Trixi’s, parking lot, don’t judge us. When we asked the bartender if it would...

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  • Yellowstone National Park - After I got my Junior Ranger badge from the Grand Tetons, we headed back up to Yellowstone National Park! Mike decided to bike from Flagg Staff in Grand Teton to Grant Village in Yellowstone. We were originally going to meet at Old Faithful which is a little further than Grant Village. However, I drove there and was beyond overwhelmed with the sheer number of people and madness. It felt like I was at Disney World. So, I drove back a...

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  • Grand Teton National Park - We entered Grand Teton National Park from the North entrance which meant we had to do a quick drive through Yellowstone first.  Woof…. both these parks are poppin with thousands of people. Luckily, this helped remind us to get back into our good system; early evening activities, sleep a little, and get back at it around sunrise. Best way to avoid the crowds! When we arrived, we stopped at Flagg Ranch first for information. From there, Mike biked to Colter...

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  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park - I didn’t know much about this park and wasn’t expecting much because…. it’s North Dakota. Boy, did it surprise me. For hours, during our drive there, it was the typical mostly flat plains, grassland, farms…. your basic midwest scenery. I was definitely not getting excited for Theodore Roosevelt National Park. But then BAM! We drove over an itty bitty midwest hill and it hits you. It’s a rugged landscape, full of badlands type rocks under all these open hills. It’s...

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