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:

  • A Sailing Adventure: Biscayne National Park Twenty-one miles east of the Everglades and just north of the island of Key Largo lies Biscayne National Park. It is the largest protected marine national park in the United States. With 95% of the park on the water, we booked a full-day sailing trip to travel across Biscayne Bay and set foot on one ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: National Park Minefield This week’s Tuesday Quiz gives you three minutes to click on every state that has at least one national park. It can get tricky – some U.S. National Parks are located in more than one state.
  • A Day of Ferry, Fort, and Fish: Dry Tortugas National Park Dry Tortugas National ParkA high-speed catamaran voyage of 70 miles each way along the Gulf of Mexico, exploration of a massive brick fort complete with a moat around it, and snorkeling underwater among the tropical coral and fish? We spent a day doing all of these things during our time in Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: How Well Do You Know Basic U.S. Geography? As we continue our Trekking the Planet NPS travels around the country, here is a quiz all about the United States. There are 16 questions to test your U.S. knowledge.
  • ​A Swampy Forest: Congaree National Park Congaree is one of America’s newest national parks, becoming the 58th such protected area in 2003. Comprised of 26,276 acres, Congaree protects the largest intact old-growth bottomless hardwood forest in the U.S. We spent two days in the park’s swampy floodplain forest exploring several trails and camping in a primitive campsite.
  • Tuesday Quiz: Match the National Park to its State This week’s Tuesday Quiz is a multiple choice matching test. Given a national park, can you match it to the correct state?
  • ​A Hiking Paradise: Great Smoky Mountains National Park One of the largest protected areas east of the Mississippi River, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hikers paradise lying in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. Within the park boundaries, there about 900 miles of hiking paths, including the famous Appalachian Trail. We spent a week hiking on a variety of trails and ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: Northernmost U.S. Cities This week we are traveling through Michigan to Isle Royale National Park. Since we are in the Northern U.S., here is a quiz to test your skill in determining the northernmost city among four options.
  • ​On the Mountain Top: Shenandoah National Park  On the mountain top the views can be awe-inspiring and humbling, making you feel on top of the world in one moment and insignificant compared to your surroundings in the next. Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park sits on the top of the Appalachian Mountains’ Blue Ridge Range. Skyline Drive runs for 105 miles through the park ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: U.S. Geophysical Regions The Tuesday Quiz this week focuses on the physical side of geography. You must identify 13 different geophysical regions of the United States by selecting the correct area on a map.
  • National Park Panoramic Photos – Series 3 Here are some panoramic photos that we took of the national parks that we visited, from the Everglades to Shenandoah. Click on any of the pictures for a larger view. Enjoy!
  • Anything but Barren: Acadia National Park In 1604 French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed along the coast of today’s central Maine and noted an island that he called “Isle des Monts Deserts” because of the barren appearance of its mountains. Craved by glaciers, the granite mountains looked devoid of any vegetation from a distance. Today, Mount Desert Island (pronounced “Dessert” as ...
  • Tuesday Quiz: Match Cities to U.S. Rivers We are traveling through Minneapolis, Minnesota, which lies on the Mississippi River. This week’s Tuesday Quiz tests your knowledge of U.S. Rivers and the cities that lie on their banks. Can you match the correct city with its river?
  • Urban Nature and History: Cuyahoga Valley National Park  Ohio’s 85 mile long Cuyahoga River flows between Akron and Cleveland and into Lake Erie. Meaning “crooked river” in the Mohawk language, the river area was home to Native Americans, and later, European explorers and trappers. Homesteaders followed to further settle the land. By the 20th century, the Cuyahoga River became one of the most ...