Announcing Our Next Adventure – A Journey to 27 United States National Parks!

Sandy introduces our next journey and why U.S. National Parks are so special to her.

Sandy and her brother Jeff at Acadia National Park, Maine – 1971

When I was growing up, my parents were teachers, and we would spend our summers driving around the United States in a camper. Along the way, we traveled to many cities and historical places. However, my favorite memories were the national parks that we visited. The first one I remember was Maine’s Acadia National Park, which we visited in 1971. My parents took a picture of my brother and me with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop.

In subsequent years my family visited other parks such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Yosemite. The experience of camping and hiking in these parks still stays with me today.

After Darren and I got married and had children, we shared our love of the National Parks with them. When Kristen was three and Lauren was five, we took them on a trip to Grand Canyon and the Utah parks of Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Arches. At Arches National Park we even hiked with them to the iconic Delicate Arch.

Kristen and Lauren hiking to Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah – 1996

Sandy hiking to Delicate Arch with Kristen, Arches National Park, Utah – 1996

Darren and I continued to visit national parks, sometimes with our daughters and other times on our own. It seemed that with each new park we visited, I found a new favorite. Soon we had been to over 30 parks.

In 2016 the National Park Service celebrated its 100 anniversary. Most people are aware of the iconic parks of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. These are just three of the 59 National Parks found throughout the country. Our next journey, beginning in March 2017, will take us to 27 of the U.S. National Parks, over a 4 1/2 month period. The goal in visiting the national parks, similar to our other journeys, is to focus on the cultural and natural significance of what we see. So we plan to visit many of the more obscure and lesser known parks. For example, the number of yearly visitors to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan (where we plan to stop in June) is less than the number that visits Yellowstone in ONE day.

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – 1998

Hiking in Glacier National Park, Montana – 2004

Also true to our travels, we plan to hike over 300 miles while visiting the parks and take several overnight backpacking trips. Our mode of transportation will be our Toyota 4Runner 4×4 SUV. We have outfitted the back of our vehicle with a platform that provides storage space underneath a mattress where we will sleep those nights when we are not backpacking. Darren will be writing about our vehicle preparation in a future post.

Here is a list of the national parks that we plan to visit. Click on a green marker above to learn more about a park on the map:

  1. Joshua Tree National Park, California
  2. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  3. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  4. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  5. Arches National Park, Utah
  6. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colordao
  7. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  8. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  9. Big Bend National Park, Texas
  10. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
  11. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
  12. Everglades National Park, Florida
  13. Biscayne National Park, Florida
  14. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
  15. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
  16. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, North Carolina
  17. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  18. Acadia National Park, Maine
  19. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  20. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
  21. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  22. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  23. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  24. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
  25. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  26. Pinnacles National Park, California
  27. Channel Islands National Park, California

We plan to leave on our Trekking the Planet NPS journey on March 13 and return home the end of July. In August we will be making another trip to two more national parks (Kings Canyon and Yosemite) as we continue our hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. The plan is to complete the 300 miles in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that we had to skip last year, due to high river levels. Our hope is to finish the Washington State segment in the near future.

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2 comments on “Announcing Our Next Adventure – A Journey to 27 United States National Parks!
  1. John says:

    Great idea. I have been to most of those. I went to Voyagers and Isle Royale last year. Isle Royale was a wonderful treat Will look forward to your posts.

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