Sandy introduces our next journey and why U.S. National Parks are so special to her.
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.
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.
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:
- Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Saguaro National Park, Arizona
- Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah
- Arches National Park, Utah
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colordao
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
- Big Bend National Park, Texas
- Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
- Everglades National Park, Florida
- Biscayne National Park, Florida
- Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
- Congaree National Park, South Carolina
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, North Carolina
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
- Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
- Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota
- Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
- Pinnacles National Park, California
- 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.