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US National Parks Overview

US National Parks Overview Video

We just returned from our National Park Tour. During our travels we visited 27 National Parks (plus other National Monuments) over 136 days. We covered about 17,000 miles in our 2003 Toyota 4Runner 4WD, visiting 34 states. And we hiked over 400 miles while in the parks, including several overnight backpacking trips. Take a look.

Channel Islands National Park

A Coastal Finale: Channel Islands National Park

Off the coast of California, between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, lie the Channel Islands. There are eight islands in the 160 mile archipelago, and five of those comprise Channel Islands National Park. Our visit to the 27th and final park on our Trekking the Planet NPS journey was an overnight adventure. After a ferry ride from the mainland, we camped on the largest island, Santa Cruz, and hiked to island ridges, along sheer cliffs, and to breathtaking beaches and coves.

Pinnacles National Park

California Crags and Caves: Pinnacles National Park

America’s newest national park is Pinnacles, established in 2013, and located about 80 miles southeast of San Jose, California. After arriving there on an extremely hot afternoon, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees F, our first impressions were of nothing special – just many large oak trees and chaparral covered hills. But when we started hiking the next morning we were blown away by the beauty of the volcanic rocky crags within the dry hills. During our two days in the park we hiked 17.2 miles, scrambled in two talus caves, and scanned the skies for the endangered California condors that glide over the peaks in the early morning and late afternoon.

Mount Rainier National Park

Cascade Mountain High: Mount Rainier National Park

The Cascade Mountains run from south British Columbia to Northern California. Located on the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire, all the contiguous United States volcanic eruptions over the past 200 years have taken place in this range. The highest peak in the Cascades is Mount Rainier. At 14,410 feet, it is the fifth tallest mountain in the lower 48 states and the 17th highest in the entire U.S. We spent time driving through the park and hiking in two popular locations: Sunrise and Paradise.

The Man and His Legacy: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt in North Dakota is the only one of America’s 59 national parks to be named after a person. Created as a national memorial park in 1947, it honored Roosevelt’s legacy in preservation and his love for the badlands area where he lived. While in the park, we spent time in all three units, united by the Little Missouri River flowing through them. We hiked, drove scenic roads, paused at vistas, and learned more about the life and conservation legacy of the man who was president from 1901 to 1909.

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