Parks

Parks

58* parks to visit! 19 down, 39 to go!

Next up: Rocky Mountain National Park

Current Rankings (Click to see my personal rating system)

  1. Congaree (SC)
  2. Smoky Mountains (TN/NC)
  3. Hawaii Volcanoes (HI)
  4. Mammoth Cave (KY)
  5. Everglades (FL)
  6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison (CO)
  7. Great Sand Dunes (CO)
  8. Guadalupe Mountains (TX)
  9. Hot Springs (AR)
  10. Bryce Canyon (UT)
  11. Big Bend (TX)
  12. Carlsbad Caverns (NM)
  13. Canyonlands (UT)
  14. Arches (UT)
  15. Capitol Reef (UT)
  16. Cuyahoga (OH)
  17. Mesa Verde (CO)
  18. Zion (UT)
  19. Haleakala (HI) 
  20. Grand Canyon (AZ)

*There are currently 60 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 was just promoted to Gateway National Park a couple months ago??


  • Acadia National Park- Acadia National Park holds a special place in my heart. My dad’s side of the family all live in Maine so I’ve been lucky enough to visit this park quite a few times. Due to a ridiculous amount of van issues caused by a cotton headed ninny muggins dealership This time, I was #blessed that I got to see Acadia in three different seasons this time; summer, fall, and pre-winter! Summer If you have never been to Acadia, and want the...

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  • Shenandoah National Park- After my friend-venture week, Mike and I headed to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia! It was a perfect place to spend our first anniversary together! We were a little nervous to be there during Labor Day weekend and expected it to be crazy busy, but it turns out most people visit during October to look at the foliage. Shenandoah is an extremely long and narrow park. It’s main road, Skyline Drive, is over 100 miles from North to South. We entered...

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  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park- Cuyahoga Valley National Park is nestled between Cleveland and Akron, following 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River. While this park did not blow me away in terms of the scenery or wildlife (it reminded me a lot of my local state and city parks), it certainly deserves our respect. It’s part in our American history is bigger than the river itself, but what is most impressive to me is how it came to be a National Park. The local residents...

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  • Grand Canyon National Park- After Zion National Park, Mike and I headed to the Grand Canyon! We were meeting our friends there the next day, so we spent the evening at the North Rim to see the canyon from the less viewed side. It was wonderful to relax on the beautiful lodge deck with a delicious Grand Canyon beer.  We also met an amazing Park Ranger that majored in geology that typically works on the South Rim side, but was visiting this side with...

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  • Zion National Park- We weren’t exactly sure if we’d make it to Zion National Park since we had reservations in the Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch. However, we had a couple days left before we needed to be there, so we ended up getting to see the highlights at this amazing place. I definitely want to check it out again to do back country camping and hike much further.     We arrived around 4pm through the east entrance. Considering the later time,...

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  • Bryce Canyon National Park- Another Utah park means more rock formations! With 2 million visitors every year, Bryce Canyon, is one of the most popular parks in the country. It is known for it’s “hoo doos” which were really beautiful. These are created by canyon walls or “fins” that erode into windows or arches, and finally, collapse into hoo doos! The water also plays a part here with it’s freeze-thaw cycles; it goes from freezing temps to water overnight over 200 days a year,...

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  • Capitol Reef National Park- After Arches, we headed to the next Utah National Park; Capitol Reef, which is in the city of Fruita. Besides beautiful rock formations (like every park in Utah) this park is also an important Mormon pioneer historical site.   We arrived around sunset again (I told you, we’re on a good groove of sunsets and mornings at the parks!) and we drove the Scenic Drive. This was simply stunning – the rock formations here are more layered with various colors...

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  • Arches National Park- Mike and I were in a pretty good rhythm at this point – visit a park in the morning, drive or do something indoors during the day, and then visit a park in the late afternoon and evening. This helps avoid the heat and the summer crowds.  After Canyonlands, we headed to Moab which is where Arches National Park is located too. As we drove by in the afternoon, it was pretty obvious that Arches is one of the most...

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  • Canyonlands National Park- Canyonlands National Park has three sections; Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze. These sections are separated by the Colorado and Green River and there is no way to access the different sections unless you leave the park. Island in the Sky is the most popular (i.e the most crowded) due to its proximity to Moab, while the Needles is the next most visited section, and the Maze is extremely remote and has limited visitors due to it mostly...

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  • Mesa Verde National Park- This was a park that I had visited when I was younger, but had very little memory of. Ancestral puebloans lived here from about 550 to 1300 before they left for other areas – but had left hundreds of amazing cliff dwellings, history and mysteries to be discovered, and an incredibly unique National Park.  Before you go, make sure to purchase your tour tickets. There are limited tickets per day and can only be bought up to 48 hours in...

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