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.


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


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


  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.


  1. Hot Springs National Park


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


  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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  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.”



Call me on my honeymoon…

  1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  2. Haleakalā National Park


  1. Mammoth Cave National Park


  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.


  1. Isle Royale National Park


  1. Voyageurs National Park


  1. Glacier National Park


  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


  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.


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


  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park


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

United States Virgin Islands

  1. Virgin Islands National Park


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


  1. Shenandoah National Park ✓


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


  1. Grand Teton National Park
  2. Yellowstone National Park

Finding My Parks, Finding Myself

I went from 0 to 5 pretty quickly this year, visiting National Parks for the first time from the east to the west side of the US. Some made me gasp, some made me cry, and all of them helped me learn a little more about myself.

1. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
The grandest view you ever did see. Met some people who were back for the 6th time, and met others that referred to it as a giant hole in the ground. Also met some elk in the parking lot. This canyon was massive, and despite the giant crowd behind me, as soon as I got to the first overlook, it was so. silent. Beautiful, overwhelming and awesome! Isn’t it one of the seven wonders of the world? It should be. And for someone that likes the mountains so much, no issues with chairlifts and gondolas, I was absolutely shaking as we stood on the edge for a photograph, frozen trying to hike around rocks and couldn’t look at other people daintily hopping through crevices. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t sitting on a chair with a flask full of fireball with soft powder (east coast ice?) beneath me.

Grand Canyon | Blog

2. Shenandoah National Park, VA
Nearest, so the dearest to my heart. Only a 3 hour drive away, I can get a glimpse of beautiful Shenandoah whenever I fancy, without layovers at an airport. Lots of bear press here, I saw my first one up close here, and yes, I must admit I embarrassingly almost pulled what is called a “bear jam” along Skyline Drive. Sorry!

Shenandoah NP

4. Petrified Forest National Park & Painted Desert, AZ
Definitely the most colorful! Purples and blues you didn’t think existed in nature exist here. Gorgeous dunes and rocks of pink and magenta, and the petrified wood was honestly breathtaking with yellow, red, green quartz. But, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that it was all a joke and these ancient, dinosaur trodden logs were just here because someone put them there. I mean, this used to be a rainforest… I can’t fathom it.

Petrified Forest NP

4. Saguaro National Park, AZ
My least favorite, but beautiful in its own way. It was surprisingly barren, and by they time this was made into a national park, many of the giant saguaros were old, and then either ravaged by fire or snow (can’t remember the sign), probably both, because AZ weather is crazier than you’d think. However, I did still find something about myself there. I felt bad that I thought this way, that I should be grateful to be in one of what our country has deemed National status. But I hated hiking the desert.

Quick AZ Escape | Blog

5. Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Now this, this place gives you the feels, hands down. Estes Park, one of the larger mountain towns to stay in near one of the many entrances of the park, had the most astounding views I have ever seen in my life. I literally cried out loud in my rental car as I ascended into town. And the next day, I sat around Dream and Emerald lake for about 3 hours. I was in love. I learned that I actually will altitude sickness, even if I didn’t feel effects in Winter Park 3 years ago. Tip: Don’t drink so much water that you flush your electrolytes and feel worse, get Gatorade in there. And Advil will save you. Anyway, highly recommend and can’t wait to explore again.


Unfortunately, that’s all for now. I will probably visit Shenandoah again before the year is up, but I think next year only holds more opportunities. Here’s to 101 years (and many more)!