We are nearing the end of #NationalParkWeek, and it’s been fun for us to look back at our travels and where we’ve gone in the 12 years since we first started visiting what has been called “America’s Best Idea.” In 2006 we ventured across the American West and drove over 6,000 miles. We experienced Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and a made thousands of memories along the way. It started a love for the National Parks that continues today.
Robyn has her favorites. These are a few of mine.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area and San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park– San Francisco, California. Take one day in San Francisco and experience everything from the infamous Alcatraz to the old growth redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument to the only Civil War-era fort built on the West Coast, Fort Point. Visit the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge or tour the history of California at The Presidio.
Get away from the crazy hustle and bustle of the waterfront and experience the history of sailing, fishing, and so much more at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, or go directly to the coast and Lands End Lookout overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There is literally so much to see and do in this amazing combination of monuments and historic sites, you will not be able to experience it all in one visit.
Capitol Reef National Park – Torrey, Utah. There are so many beautiful National Parks in Utah, it’s hard to choose one. But Capitol Reef combines incredible arches, canyons, and red cliffs with a whole lot of history, which makes it tops for me. The unique landscape of Capitol Reef made it ideal for Native American cultures, and there are countless petroglyphs visible, some just a short walk from the main road through the park.
Created more than 500 years ago, they are stunning examples of the Fremont people who lived here before the Mormon settlement of Fruita planted orchards of more than 3,000 trees. You can still visit one of the old houses, eat fruit right from the trees (they are maintained by the park), and then take a drive in deep red rock canyons–it’s a perfect experience for everyone.
Since Robyn only listed three, I’m limiting myself to three, too. Honestly, I could list at least a dozen here, but since I only have one more choice, I have to go with the one that started it all.
Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone NP, Wyoming. Without Yellowstone, there would be no National Park system. It was the very first National Park in the world, and it remains one of the most amazingly diverse ecosystems in America–a truly stunning combination of animals, geothermal wonders, rivers, canyons, and more. It is one of those parks that you can’t experience just once–there is so much to see that a day’s drive from one end to the other will leave you a bit exhausted. Take time to explore the mudpots and geysers, marvel at the wateralls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and stop and stare at elk, buffalo, and countless other species that call the park home. Yellowstone is one of the busiest National Parks, so plan ahead and make reservations for hotels around it, or for camping inside it. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be reminded why our National Parks have been called “America’s Best Idea.”
What are your favorite National Parks? What tips can we share about any visits you might be planning this summer? Let us know!