National Parks – A 59 Point Bucket List

National Parks – A 59 Point Bucket List

There are 59 formal National Parks and a whopping 418 National Park Sites which include battlefields, forests, preserves and more. While I have been to a number of sites, the total is so overwhelming that I need to focus on the Big 59. Even then, seeing this list seems overwhelming. There are just so many that I haven’t even dreamed of. Have you gotten to all 59 National Parks, yet? How did you do it? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Alaska

I have big dreams for Alaska, but unfortunately this state is nowhere near my immediate future.

  1. Denali National Park and Preserve
  2. Gates of the Arctic National Park
  3. Glacier Bay National Park
  4. Katmai National Park and Preserve
  5. Kenai Fjords National Park
  6. Kobuk Valley National Park
  7. Lake Clark National Park

American Samoa

Wake me up when I get to Australia, first.

  1. National Park of American Samoa

Arizona

  1. Grand Canyon National Park  ✓
    Truly breathtaking. When you stand on the edge of it, all the noise dissipates into the canyon.

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  1. Petrified Forest National Park ✓
    Once I walked through some of the petrified wood sites, I wondered if it was all a tourist trap.
 

Well, can you tell I discovered #Lightroom yet?

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  1. Saguaro National Park ✓ – Read About It
    This park was nice to see. The quintessential Arizona, really.

Arkansas

  1. Hot Springs National Park

California

Queue California Dreamin’…

  1. Channel Islands National Park
  2. Death Valley National Park
  3. Joshua Tree National Park
  4. Kings Canyon National Park
  5. Lassen Volcanic National Park
  6. Redwood National Park
  7. Sequoia National Park
  8. Yosemite National Park

Colorado

  1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  2. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  3. Mesa Verde National Park
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park ✓  – Read About It
    One of my favorite National Parks, of course. I cried when I drove over the ridge to Estes Park. That’s all I have to say here.
 

If mother nature’s gonna keep raining on my parade I’m just gonna keep dreaming about the next time I get to be here.

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Florida

  1. Biscayne National Park
  2. Dry Tortugas National Park
  3. Everglades National Park ✓
    I ain’t lyin’ when I say there are ‘gators everywhere… This image is from Big Cypress National Preserve, right before the National Parks entrance. We were traveling some back road to get there. To be clear, think “River Monsters.”

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Hawaii

Call me on my honeymoon…

  1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  2. Haleakalā National Park

Kentucky

  1. Mammoth Cave National Park

Maine

  1. Acadia National Park 
    2017 TO DO! Acadia is on my immediate to-do list. Also, I have family in New England. Therefore, this fall, I am going to get there.

Michigan

  1. Isle Royale National Park

Minnesota

  1. Voyageurs National Park

Montana

  1. Glacier National Park

Nevada

  1. Great Basin National Park

New Mexico

  1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

North Carolina

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

North Dakota

  1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Ohio

  1. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
    2017 TO DO! Of course, park is roughly 3 hours from me. To be quite honest, I judged Ohio for not having a thing, especially not National Parks.

Oregon

Shouldn’t this whole entire state be a National Park?

  1. Crater Lake National Park

South Carolina

  1. Congaree National Park

South Dakota

  1. Badlands National Park
  2. Wind Cave National Park

Tennessee

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Texas

  1. Big Bend National Park
  2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

United States Virgin Islands

  1. Virgin Islands National Park

Utah

  1. Arches National Park
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park
  3. Canyonlands National Park
  4. Capitol Reef National Park
  5. Zion National Park

Virginia

  1. Shenandoah National Park ✓

Washington

  1. Mount Rainier National Park
  2. North Cascades National Park
  3. Olympic National Park

Wyoming

  1. Grand Teton National Park
  2. Yellowstone National Park

I Ditched PA for Another Arizona Adventure

With February behind us, sunny and 65 meant no snow and mud skiing in the mountains of Southwestern PA. With warm temps and no snow, I made my way back for another Arizona adventure. And I must say, Christina Skis absolutely LOVES Arizona.

I had a conference in Scottsdale, and when there’s a work thing, there’s an adventure attached, because there’s no way I can fly home from across the country on a Friday. I need to go see the world on Saturday. You should try it sometime, if you should be so lucky.

Friday – Check Into Home Base: Sedona
The last time I was in Sedona, I arrived via I-17 to 179, the Red Rock Scenic Byway, and completely fell in love. The views were incredible, the pull-offs and trails were abundant, and I was hooked. To change it up this time, I drove in via 89A, straight into Uptown Sedona. This route does not showcase the jaw-dropping surroundings but as always, Sedona is beautiful. If you’re coming from the south, I recommend a drive in via 179 in the afternoon and be prepared to have your breath taken away. Check out this map for a better viewing of what I mean: Vortex Map of Sedona

Speaking of “vortexes,” Sedona is a vibrant holistic town, with people who believe in the spiritual energy of the earth, and that this place holds rare points where this is focused. You will believe it too, once you get there.

Sedona, Arizona, Sunset

Saturday – Drive to Your Adventure Destination: Page, AZ
It’s the Instagrammer’s trifecta: I drove 3 hours to see Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. I honestly regret taking more time off to drive further north into Utah’s National Parks, so please make note to not pass that up. Two more hours on the road, and I would have been there.

The drive north past Sedona into Flagstaff and continuing through 89N to Page is truly a delight. I went through red rocks to snow covered switchbacks to badlands to canyons and everything in between. It’s about an hour or less to Flagstaff and two more through to Page. Note – there’s no cactuses up this way.

I took a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon at 11:30 am. There are about 5 tour companies and they are all priced at about $60. The guide was great, gave the group tips for taking images on our cellphones, showed me some camera settings and even took pictures of us. During the right season the sunlight will burst through the cracks of the canyon displaying brilliant colors and interesting focal points. But even in the very beginning of the busy season, the place was crowded with tourists and it felt like a frenzy – walk in, take all the pictures you can and don’t stop snapping. The lower canyon was recommended to me as it’s less crowded and cheaper, about $25. Photography tours are also an option if you want the best times and a longer stay in the canyon.

Arizona Photography           Desert, Canyon, Arizona

I met a friendly solo tour-goer who recommended I take the quick drive to Lake Powell, about five minutes up the road. This lake in the middle of the desert is definitely a sight to see. Think, “if Mars had a lake.” Boat tours are available on the lake to Rainbow Bridge, which is a National Monument and one of the highest natural bridges in the US. Noted for next time.

Nature Photography AZ

There’s also a waterfall near here, Grand Falls, with written directions on Trip Advisor. During recent rain, the dust gets pushed through and the falls actually flow brown. But being a solo traveler and on native land, I didn’t know what to expect so I did not go.

Afterward, I parked at Horseshoe Bend and took the short trail to the canyon. It was pretty crowded with tourists and photographers, but I managed to army crawl my way to the edge for some absolutely beautiful views. I learned this at the Grand Canyon – I’m totally afraid of heights… or maybe just standing at the edge of a cliff (hence the army crawl). Worth it.

Landscape Photographt

I hit the road around 4 pm, determined to get back to Sedona before sunset to try and get some real shots with my camera, even though I was asking for a lot with it being February and trying to beat home to sunset. Unfortunately the drive back wasn’t as fast as the drive there, but I did manage to take a look at the Chapel of the Holy Cross by Frank Lloyd Wright before the sun went down, so I will chalk that one up as a win.

Red Rocks, Sedona, Church

Sunday – Bright and Early Goodbye: Phoenix
The two-hour drive south from Sedona is no less beautiful than the drive north. At this time of year, there’s more green than expected on the way to PHX and the landscape is dotted with those big, classic Seguaro cactuses.

It was a fast trip, packed with a lot of driving and schedules, and although I wouldn’t consider it a vacation, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for experience and growth. Arizona is one amazing state, and I am sure this won’t be the last time I visit it.

 

 

Ski Clinics for Chicks

According to The Ski Diva, and really any girl who rips out there, you notice your crew is usually all-male… mine was, at least. I, very much like the author of that post, don’t have many females to ride with. In my 2017 Ski Instructor search, I was one of 3 girls at the initiation session of one location, and I am one of 4 female instructors at the mountain I chose to work at, total. “Growing up” and becoming the “breadwinner” and “homemaker” and “caretaker” all at once has taken a toll, and many a female drop the skis for the role of “woman.” However, organizations like Unicorn Picnic and sister company SheJumps are really trying to push the rad-chick agenda and get girls outside. The movement is growing, and loud. That is why I am SO excited about some of these ski clinics at nearby mid-atlantic mountains below.

Master the Mountain Series, Seven Springs – Learn More
I am totally going to a couple of these, however lift ticket is not included.

  • Breakthrough: Jan 7 $95 / Jan 7-8 $180
  • Bumps & Steeper Terrain: Jan 21 $95 / Jan 21-22 $180
  • Carving / Groomers: Jan 28 $95 / Jan 28-29 $180
  • Bumps / Trees: Feb 4 $95 / Feb 4-5 $180
  • High-End Performance: Feb 11 $95 / Feb 11-12 $180
  • Freestyle: Feb 25 $95 / Feb 25-26 $180

Women’s Days, Whitetail – Sign Up
Been to a Women’s Day, great day on-snow and to meet locals in the area.
Jan 6, Jan 27 & Feb 6, 2017 | 
Clinic & Lift – $115

Burton Women’s Snowboard Camp, Snowshoe – Sign Up
Jan 6-8, 2017 | Camp & Lift – $279

Head Women’s Ski Camp, Snowshoe – Sign Up
Totally on my To-Do list, but I want to go with girl friends!
Jan 27-29, 2017 | Camp & Lift – $279

Your Turn Women’s Clinic, Holiday Valley- Sign Up
Jan 26 – 27, 2017 | Clinic – $290, Lift – $70

Learn With The Ladies, Seven Springs – Sign Up
Feb 4 – 5, 2017 | Clinic – $195, Lift – $131

TELESKIING & XC

Freeheel Festival, Seven Springs – Sign Up
January 28 – 29, 2017 | 2-Day Tele Skill Development – $165

^ Telemark, anyone?! Really, some of these ski and snowboard sessions are for everyone, but who doesn’t love a little girl-power? January is Learn To Ski & Ride month, so let’s get out there! No matter your ability level, there is an on-snow clinic or ski lesson series in the mid-atlantic / east coast for you.