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, our travels took 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, was to focus on the cultural and natural significance of what we see. So we visited 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 stopped in June) is less than the number that visits Yellowstone in ONE day.

Also true to our travels, we hiked over 400 miles while visiting the parks and took several overnight backpacking trips. Our mode of transportation was our Toyota 4Runner 4×4 SUV. We outfitted the back of our vehicle with a platform that provided storage space underneath a mattress where we slept those nights when we were not backpacking.

Click on a marker above to learn more about a park on the map.

Watch a short overview of our adventure:

Read more about our journey below:

  • Tuesday Quiz: Rivers of the United States We are now in Big Bend National Park, viewing the Rio Grande River from several places throughout the park. This week’s Tuesday Quiz is all about the Rio Grande and other rivers of the United States.
  • Of Sand and Snow: Great Sand Dunes National Park  Great Sand Dunes National ParkWhen we researched national parks to include on our Trekking the Planet NPS journey, we were surprised to discover sand dunes in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Great Sand Dunes contains the highest dune in North America, Star Dune (at 755 feet). The park lies at an elevation of 8,000 feet, so ...
  • An Underground Journey: Carlsbad Caverns National Park ​Carlsbad Caverns, located in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico’s Guadalupe Mountains, is the first of three “cave” national parks we plan to visit on our TTP NPS journey (the other two parks are Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and Wind Cave in South Dakota). Those two parks require tours to enter their caves. But Carlsbad ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: Travel and Leisure National Parks Test We are arriving in Hot Springs National Park, and here’s another U.S. National Parks quiz to determine how well you know our parks.
  • The Top of Texas: Guadalupe Mountains National Park  ​Over 200 million years ago, the Guadalupe Mountains were a marine reef under a tropical sea. When the sea evaporated, the Capitan Reef was buried in sediments and mineral salts. Later, an uplift created the mountains that today tower above the Chihuahuan Desert. These mountains include Guadalupe Peak, which at 8,751 feet tall is the ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: U.S. Geography Bunker This week’s quiz is a tough one – you must answer a series of 15 questions about the United States in four minutes. One wrong answer ends the quiz.
  • Of Desert, Mountain and River: Big Bend National Park Big Bend National Park​We were in the state of Texas for 17 days, and most of our time was spent in one place: Big Bend National Park. Big Bend, established in 1944, is the 15th largest national park by area (801,000 acres). We spent six days exploring its desert, mountain, and river ecosystems. There was plenty to do ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: Fact Monster National Parks This week’s Tuesday Quiz comes from Fact Monster. The ten questions will test your national parks knowledge from Hawaii to Maine.
  • Small but Historic: Hot Springs National Park  Hot Springs National Park, in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, has the distinction of being America’s smallest national park at just 5,500 acres. Its protected status predates Yellowstone, commonly considered to be the world’s first national park created in 1872. In 1832, Congress, under President Andrew Jackson, designated a Hot Springs Reservation to protect the ...
  • Exploring Below and Above: Mammoth Cave National Park With over 400 miles of surveyed passages, Mammoth Cave National Park is famous as the longest known cave system in the world. We not only ventured into the cave on two occasions while visiting, but also had the opportunity to explore some of Mammoth’s 52,830 acres above the ground by completing hikes on both sides ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: U.S. City Skylines We are visiting Charleston, South Carolina this week, and the Tuesday Quiz is all about U.S. cities. Can you correctly identify the city by a picture of its skyline?
  • National Park Panoramic Photos – Series 2 Here are some panoramic photos that we took of the national parks and national monuments that we visited. Click on any of the pictures for a larger view. Enjoy!
  • Tuesday Quiz: How well do you know the United States? Our Tuesday Quiz this week is from National Geographic. Ten questions test your knowledge of the United States. The questions include history, culture and geography. How well do you know the U.S.?
  • Where Alligators and Crocodiles Roam: Everglades National Park Everglades National Park protects the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. It is a mosaic of marshes, creeks, prairies, and forests, with a abundance of wildlife. And it is the only place in the world where the alligator and crocodiles both roam. We spent four days exploring the park, the third largest in the ...