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National Park Service Units Travelogue

In our travels we are not just visiting National Parks.  We are also stopping at other Park Service Units as time, proximity and budget allows.  Several readers have asked us if we have a timeline.  We offer this as a snapshot of all of the units we have visited in chronological order.  We also have included U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Monuments that we have visited.  We will update this weekly.  Also, it will appear in the “Popular Posts” section so it will always be on the Homepage.  Over time, we will add one photo for each unit as well as a brief description.

1.  Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas .  10/2013

Attractions:  Unspoiled Prairie Grasslands, Bison Heard, Hiking.

When to go:  Spring, Fall.

Good to know:  The daily bus tour, which is the best way to view the bison herd, is currently suspended due to poor road conditions.  Hike to the Windmill Pasture for your best opportunity to see the bison.

Tallgrass

2.  Homestead National Monument, Nebraska.  11/2013

Attractions:  Excellent Visitor Center, Homestead Era Buildings, Hiking.

When to go: Fall. Good to know:  Homestead NM has frequent programs for children.  It is a great place to earn a Junior Ranger Badge.

Homestead

3.  Fort Scott National Historical Site, Kansas.  11/2013

Attractions:  History of the American West, Military Buildings, 19th Century Artifacts.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Fort Scott has an excellent 4th of July Festival.  Bring the family.

Fort Scott

4.  Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas.  01/2014

Attractions:  Civil War History, Civil War Artifacts, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime. Good to know:  Pea Ridge offers seven miles of uncrowded hiking trails.

Pea Ridge

5.  George Washington Carver National Monument, Missouri.  01/2014

Attractions: Excellent Visitor Center, Historical Artifacts, Ozark Countryside.

When to go:  Spring, Fall Good to Know:  The National Monument conducts  a 4th Grade Art and Essay Contest every year which celebrates Black History Month.

George Washington Carver

6.  Harry S Truman National Historic Site  02/2014

Attractions:  Presidential Home, Artifacts, 20th Century U.S. History.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The Truman Home has a gray carpet for walking designed to protect site’s artifacts.  Stay on it during your visit to avoid the ire of the Ranger.

Truman Home

7.  Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.  04/2014

Attractions:  Hot Spring Water, Bath Houses, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime. Go to know:  Bring your bottles and fill up with free hot springs water near Park Headquarters.

Buckstaff Bath House

8.  Desoto National Memorial, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Colonial History, Artifacts, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime. Good to know:  Visitors are welcome to walk their properly leashed dogs throughout the Memorial.

DeSoto

9.  Everglades National Park, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Alligators, Birds, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Winter, Spring.

Good to know:  The Everglades is experiencing significant biological distress due to invasive species such as the Burmese Python.  Please help by supporting programs to manage and eliminate such species.

Everglades

10.  Biscayne National Park, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Manatees, Coral Reefs,  Boating. When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The watersports Park concession is unavailable.  There are currently no boat rentals available.  The glass-bottom. snorkeling, diving and island boat tours are unavailable within the Park.  Private tours may be available.  Private boats can tour the waters of Biscayne.

Biscayne

11. Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Canoeing/Kayaking, Hiking, Birding.

When to go:  Spring, Fall. Good to know:  Big Cypress is prime habitat for the Threated Wood Stork.  March is an excellent time to see and photograph them.

Big Cypress National Preserve

12. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Touring Fort Jefferson, Swimming/Snorkeling, Camping.

When to go:  Anytime, but be wary during hurricane season.

Good to know:  The Park has an interesting history as a Federal Military prison.  Read a little about Dr. Samuel Mudd before you go.

Dry Tortugas National Park

13. Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, USVI.  04/2014

Attractions:  Snorkeling/Diving, Underwater Photography, Sunbathing.

When to go:  Anytime you need a little paradise.

Good to know:  Getting around at the USVI can be expensive.  Often the cost of a tour is more economical than taking one of the ubiquitous Island taxis.  Ask your hotel concierge about more economical travel options.

Virgin Islands National Park

14. Virgin Islands National Park, USVI.  04/2014

Attractions::  Photography, Snorkeling/Swimming, Hiking.

When to go: See #13 above.

Good to know:  The road that traverses St. John is narrow and requires drivers to stay to the right–opposite of the mainland.   Take it slow.  The reward is that the eastern end of St. John and the National Park is isolated and beautiful.

Trunk Bay

15. Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, Explore the Fort, Birding. When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The first Saturday of each month is Cannon Day.  Re-enactors will fire the main cannon and present historical information on all but the first and last boat tour of the day.

Taznatas

16. Castillo De San Marcos National Monument, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Explore the Fort, Ranger Programs, Watch the Re-Enactors.

When to go:  Anytime. Good to Know:  The Monument is in Central St. Augustine and parking may pose a challenge, especially on the weekend.  Get there early.

Castillo

17. Fort Pulaski National Monument, Florida.  04/2014

Attractions:  Explore the Fort, Ranger Programs, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime, but you will notice the heat in the Summer.

Good to Know:  Fort Pulaski has excellent nature trails ranging from 1/4 to 6 miles in length.

Photo Courtesy of Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Fort Pulaski

18. Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina.  04/2014

Attractions:  Civil War History, Explore the Fort, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Anytime. Good to know:  Don’t forget to visit nearby Fort Moultrie (part of the National Monument) which operated from 1776 through the end of WWII.

Fort Sumter

19. Congaree National Park, South Carolina.  04/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Birding.

When to go:  Winter, Spring and Fall.

Good to know:  The shallow waters and vegetation of the Park create unique lighting in the morning and at dusk.  We found it to be a photographer’s paradise.

Congaree National Park

20. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & NC.  04/2014

Attractions:  Great Hiking, Wildlife Photography, Appalachian History.

When to go:  Anytime, but be prepared for the crowds in the Summer.

Good to know:  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our busiest and for good reasons.  Be prepared for the crowds, especially in the Summer.  We recommend visiting attractions such as Cades Cove before 10 AM or after 5 PM.  During the day seek less busy places such as backcountry trails.

Reader good to know:  Including the 70 miles of the Appalachian Trial within it borders,  the Great Smoky Mountain National Park features more than 850 miles of hiking trails.  (Submitted by Adam Noll, @ThatOutdoorGuy on Twitter.  Check his excellent website at  http://www.outdooradventuretraining.com/)

Abrams Falls

21. New River Gorge National River, West Virginia.  05/2014

Attractions:  Whitewater Rafting, Hiking, Photography

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The road to the bottom of the Gorge is steep and narrow.  Tour buses rumble down the road at high speeds.  Let them pass at a turnout.

New River

22. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.  05/2014

Attractions:  Wildlife Photography, Excellent Hiking, Appalachian History.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Shenandoah has more than 500 miles of trails.  Dogs are allowed on all but about 20 miles of Park trails.  Check the regulations first please.

Shenandoah

23. Washington Monument, D.C.  05/2014

Attractions:  Take the Elevator to the Top, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Tickets are required to visit the Washington Monument.  They are free and can be picked up at the Washington Monument Lodge at 8:30 every morning.  Line up early.  They go quickly.

Washington Monument

24. Lincoln Memorial, D.C.  05/2014

Attractions:  Photography, Visit the Museum, Reflection.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The Lincoln Memorial is spectacular at night.  It is much less crowded and allows for some great photographs.

Lincoln Memorial

25. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, D.C  05/2014

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, Civil Rights History, Reflection.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Maya Angelou pointed out that the paraphrased  King quote   “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness” changed the context of the original quote and it was removed from the Memorial.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

26. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, D.C.  05/2014

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, History, Reflection.

When to go:

Anytime. Good to know:  The names are listed on the Memorial in chronological order based on the  casualty date.  Within each day, the names are listed in alphabetical order.

Vietnam Memorial

27. Thomas Jefferson Memorial, D.C.  05/2014

Attractions:  Jeffersonian History, Walking, Cherry Blossoms.

When to visit:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Ranger-led interpretive programs are offered everyday on the hour from 10 AM until 11 PM.

Jefferson

28. National WWII Memorial, D.C.  05/2014

Attractions:  WWII History, Ranger Programs, Reflection.

When to visit:  Anytime.

Good to know:  If there are Honor Flight WWII Veterans at the Memorial when you visit, take a moment to shake their hand and thank them for their service.  In our experience, they are grateful for the kind gesture.

WWII Memorial

29. Korean War Veterans Memorial, D.C.  05/2014

Attractions:  Korean War History, Ranger Programs, Reflection.

When to visit:  Anytime.

Good to know: The Memorial features 19 Korean War Soldiers which represent each branch of the U.S. military.  The statues are about 7’3″ tall.

Korean War Memorial

30. Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania.  05/2014

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, Battlefield Tours, Museum.

When to visit:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Congress recently approved the expansion of Park to include  45 additional acres and the Lincoln Train Station.

Gettysburg

31. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont.  05/2014

Attractions:  Museum Tours, Mansion Tours, Hiking, Snowshoeing.

When to visit:  Anytime. Good to know:  Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller is Vermont’s only National Park Unit.

Vermont

32. Acadia National Park, Maine.  05/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Touring,  Beaches, Horseback Riding.

When to visit:  Spring, Fall.

Good to Know:  At 1528 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point in the Park.  According to the Park Service website, Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

Reader Good to Know:  At Acadia, visitors can still behave like an English aristocrat from decades past with “Popovers and Tea” at Jordan Pond.  (Submitted by Mike Rudd, Twitter: @MarketingMikeR, Website: marketingfunwithmike.com

Coastal Features at Acadia

33. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.  05/2015

Attractions:  Biking, Hiking, Scenic Train Rides. When to visit:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The Towpath Trails runs 20 miles through the Park along the historic route of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

Cuyahoga Valley

34. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin.  05/2014

Attractions:  Boating, Exploring Islands, Ice Caves in the Winter.

When to go:  Summer and Fall.  Prepare extensively if you plan to visit in the Winter.

Good to know:  The Islands have approximately 50 miles of maintained hiking trails.  They are rarely used heavily.

Apostle Islands

35. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.  05/2014

Attractions:  Backcountry Camping, Fishing, Day Trips.

When to go:  May through September.

Good to know:  Isle Royale is the only National Park that closes.  It is officially closed to visitors from November 1st through April 15th.

Isle Royale

36. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota.  06/2014

Attractions:  Fishing, Boating, Snowmobiling.

When to go:  Summer, Fall.  Winter for the hardy.

Good to know:  Mosquitos and blackflies can be fierce, especially during wet Springs.  Be prepared.

Voyagers 2

37. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.  06/2014

Attractions:  Wildlife Viewing, Hiking, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Late Spring through Mid-Fall.  North Dakota has fierce Winters.

Good to know:  Theodore Roosevelt has two separate units–North and South.  The South Unit is near the town of Medora and is just off I-94.  It is much busier than the more secluded North Unit.  Make plans to visit both areas.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

38. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.  06/2014

Attractions:  Cave Tours, Wildlife Viewing, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The bison on the grounds are descendants of the Yellowstone herd and are considered to be “genetically pure” when compared to their bison cousins at the neighboring Custer State Park.  Custer State Park bison apparently have a small proportion of cattle DNA.

Wind Cave

39. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota.  06/2014

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, Nature Walks, Reflection.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know: Gutzon Borglum and crew worked on Mount Rushmore from 1927 until 1941.  Upon his death in 1941 his son Lincoln took over briefly until funding dried up that same year.  The original vision that the Presidents be depicted to the waist is unfinished.

Mount Rushmore

40. Badlands National Park, South Dakota.  06/2014

Attractions:  Photography, Hiking, Wildlife Viewing.

When to go:  Spring and Fall are best.

Good to know:  We have been to the Badlands more than any other National Park.  We think of it as our Home Park.

Badlands

41. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana.  06/2014

Attractions:  American History, Ranger Programs, Reflection.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The original name of the  Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was the Custer Battlefield National Monument.  President George H.W. Bush renamed the Battlefield and Monument on December 10, 1991.

SONY DSC

42. Glacier National Park, Montana.  06/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Photography, Backcountry Camping.

When to go:  Summer when the Going to the Sun Road is open.

Good to know:  Before the Going to the Sun Road was opened, the Two Medicine area was the primary destination for Park visitors.  Today is considered “off the beaten path”.  Don’t miss it.  The crowds are lighter and it is a beautiful area with lots of activities.

Glacier Lake

43. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.  07/2014

Attractions:  Backcountry Hiking, Hiking, Thermal Features.

When to go:  Anytime, but crowds peak in July and August.

Good to know:  The road from the North Entrance at Mammoth Springs to the Northeast Entrance is open year round.  In Winter the Lamar Valley offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.  Be sure and check road conditions before you go.

SONY DSC

44. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.  07/2014

Attractions:  Touring, Visitor Center.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The Parkway is one of the 405 official National Park Service units.  Many people have driven this link between Yellowstone and Grand Teton without realizing they have entered a separate entity of the National Parks.

Rockefeller

45. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  07/2014 Attractions:

Hiking, Mountaineering, Photography, Watersports. When to go:  Anytime but deal with crowds In July and August.

Good to know:  The Snake River through the Tetons is one of the few places where you can catch a Snake River Fine-Spotted Cutthroat Trout.  Release it unharmed if you do please.

Grand Teton

46. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  07/2014

Attractions:  Wildlife Viewing, Mountaineering, Hiking, Photography.

When to go:  Trail Ridge Road traditionally opens Memorial Day Weekend and expect the Road to close in mid-October.

Good to know:  It will take a hiker in average physical condition 16 to 18 hours to complete the roundtrip hike to the summit of Longs Peak.  The recommended start time in the Summer is 3 AM.

Rocky Mountain National Park

47. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.  07/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Sledding the Dunes, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The surface of the Sand Dunes can reach 140 degrees F in the Summer.  Appropriate shoes are always recommended.

Great Sand Dunes

48. Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska (USFS).  07/2014

Attractions:  Kayaking, Boating, Backcountry Hiking.

When to go:  May through September

Good to know:  Haven’t heard of Misty Fjords?  Not surprising.  It is a remote wilderness 40 miles east of Ketchikan, Alaska.  The best way to visit this incredible area, which Join Muir compared to Yosemite, is by a boat excursion.

Misty Fjords National Monument

49. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska.  07/2014

Attractions:  Gold Rush History, Ranger Programs. When to go:  May through September.

Good to know:  The Park protects part of the famous Chikoot Trail.  It terminates in British Columbia so bring your passport if you plan to hike it.

50. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.  07/2014

Attractions:  Glaciers, Wildlife, Kayaking.

When to go:  May through October.

Good to know:  Of the half million visitors that Glacier Bay each year almost all of them do so via large cruise ships. If you are cruising to Glacier Bay, you are in for a treat.  Park Rangers board the ships and present excellent programs including the Junior Ranger program.  If you can manage to visit the Park without the benefit of the cruise ship, you will almost certainly find solitude.

Glacier Bay National Park

51. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.  07/2014

Attractions:  The Abandoned  Kennecott Mine, Backcountry Camping, Hiking, Snowshoeing.

When to go:  May through September.

Good to know:  At over 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest National Park in America.  It is a wilderness Park.  Their are two gravel roads that go into the Park which are maintained by the State of Alaska.  Use a high clearance vehicle or take a tour if you travel these roads.  The Park Service offers essentially no services in the Park.

Mt. Drum

52. Denali National Park, Alaska.  07/2014

Attractions:  Mt. McKinley, Wildlife, Camping.

When to go:  Mid-May through Mid-September.

Good to know:  Denali is one of three National Parks in Alaska that visitors can drive to.  It is the most accessible to cars.  The Park road is 92 miles long.  The first 15 miles are paved and visitors are free to drive this section of road anytime it is open.  The rest of the road requires visitors to take a Concessionaire shuttle.

Denali National Park

53. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.  08/2014

Attractions:  Marine Wildlife, Glaciers, Boating.

When to go:  May through September.

Good to know:  Kenai Fjords is one of three Alaskan National Parks that visitors can drive to.  Exit Glacier is easily accessible by car and is an easy hike to view the glacier.

Kenai

54. Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.  08/2014

Attractions:  Grizzly Bears, Glaciers, Hiking.

When to go:  May through September.

Good to know:  The most practical way to see Lake Clark is via Lake Clark Air from Anchorage.  There are no roads to the Park.

Lake Clark National Park

55. Katmai, National Park, Alaska.  08/2014

Attractions:  Grizzly Bears, Land of 10,000 Smokes, Fly Fishing, Photography.

Good to know:  Grizzly Bears are so common at Brooks Camp, that both the campground and the picnic areas are contained by electric fences.  Any food that you bring must be left at a storage cache.

Katmai National Park

56. Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington (USFS).  08/2014

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, Visitor Center, Hiking, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The monument is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, not by the Park Service.  Many consider Mount St. Helens to the “jewel” of the USFS.

Mount St. Helens

57. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.  08/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Photography, Snowy Adventures.

When to go:  Anytime, but check road conditions in the Winter.

Good to know:  Mt. Rainier has also been known as Mt. Tacoma and briefly as Mt. Seattle Seahawks.

Mount Rainier

58. Olympic National Park, Washington.  08/2014

Attractions:  Beaches, Hiking, Wildlife, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Olympic National Park has three distinct natural regions:  ocean coastline, glaciated mountains, and temperate rainforest.

Olympic National Park

59. North Cascades National Park, Washington.  08/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Backcountry Camping, Photography.

When to go:  April through October.

Good to know:  We recommend that you explore the Cascade River Road while at the Park.  North Cascades has 312 glaciers and you will get a good look at several of them there.

North Cascades

60. Curecanti  National Recreational Area, Colorado.  09/2014

Attractions:  Fishing, Hiking, Fantastic Scenery.

When to go:  April through November.

Good to know:  Blue Mesa Reservoir in Curecanti is the largest body of water in Colorado.

Curacanti

61. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado.  09/2014

Attractions:  Fishing, Watersports, Hiking.

When to go:  April through October.

Good to know:  This Recreation area has some incredible trails and you are certain to find solitude on them.  We recommend the Dillon Pinnacles and Curecanti Creek trails.  Eat your Wheaties though.  Both are strenuous.

SONY DSC

62. Great Basin National Park, Nevada.  09/2014

Attractions:  Night Skies, Hiking, Photography, Solitude.

When to go:  September through May.

Good to know:  Great Basin has one of the best Night Sky programs in the Park Service.  Make time to attend one of their excellent Astronomy Ranger Programs.

DSC00349

63. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.  09/2014

Attractions:  Scenic Loop Drive, Boat Rides, Fishing, Photography.

When to do:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Anyone’s “First View” of Crater Lake is considered to be a special moment.  Take a few minutes to soak it in.

Crater Lake

64. Redwood National and State Parks, California.  09/2014

Attractions:  Redwoods, Beaches, Hiking, Wildlife.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Redwoods has been the site for several feature films including Return of the Jedi, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Outbreak.

Redwoods

65. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.  09/2014

Attractions:  Thermal Features, Volcanic Geology, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Lassen features all four types of volcanos:  Plug Dome, Shield, Cinder Cone, and Strato.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

66. Yosemite National Park, California.  09/2014

Attractions:  Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, Hiking, Free Climbing El Capitan, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Mariposa Grove will be closed for the next two years.  The Park Service is removing the Parking Lot and closing trails for conservation reasons.   The popular tram ride has been discontinued.

Yosemite National Park

First View

67. Sequoia National Park, California.  10/2014

Attractions:  Sequoias, Hiking, Wildlife, Photography, Mount Whitney.

When to go:  April through November.  Heavy snows often close the roads in Winter.

Good to know:  Most Park visitors never see Mount Whitney.  It must be approached from the east side of the Park from Highway 395.

Sequoia

68. Kings Canyon National Park, California.  10/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Waterfalls, Sequoias (General Grant).

When to go:  April Through October.

Good to know:  The largest old grove Sequoia grove in the world is in Kings Canyon. The Redwood Mountain Grove  is accessed via a ten mile hike in the Park.

Kings Canyon National Park

69.  Giant Sequoia National Monument, California.  10/2014

Attractions:  Sequoias, Hiking, Photography.

When to go:  April through October.

Good to know:  The Monument is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.  I features 33 unique Sequoia Groves within its boundaries.

Giant Sequoia National Monument

70. Pinnacles National Park, California.  10/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Camping, Cave Tours, Bird Watching (Condors)

When to go:  Anytime, but be prepared for scorching temperatures in the Summer.

Good to know:  Pinnacles is America’s newest National Park.  It was designated as our 59th National Park on January 10th, 2013.

Pinnacles National Park

71. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.  10/2014

Attractions:  Photography, Backcountry Camping, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Bryce Canyon has a robust schedule of Ranger programs good for all ages.  We especially recommend the astronomy/night sky program.

Bryce Canyon

72. Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah.  10/2014

Attractions:  Hoodoos, Volcanic Features, Hiking, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet above sea level.  Keep that in mind before you start off on a long hike.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

73. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.  10/2014

Attractions:   Petroglyphs, Photography, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The Gifford Homestead in the Park has a retail store which sells pies and pastries using ingredients from the nearby orchard.  They are delicious, but get there early.  Campers from the adjacent scoop them up pretty quickly.

Capitol Reef National Park

74. Zion National Park, Utah.  10/2014

Attractions:  Angel’s Landing, Zion Narrows, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime, but the Park gets hot in the Summer.

Good to know:  Park visitors are required to use the shuttle from March 15th through November 15th.  The eastern section of the park is always available to drive.  It’s free.

Zion National Park

75. Arches National Park, Utah.  10/2014

Attractions:  Arches of course, hiking, photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Beat the crowds at Arches by utilizing the “primitive” trails.  The ones we hiked were not terribly difficult and were not crowded.  If you are hiking to Delicate Arch for the sunset, get there early to claim a spot.

Landscape Arch

76. Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  10/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Photography, Ecological Diversity, Mesa Arch.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Despite its close proximity to Arches National Park, Canyonlands receives less than half of the visitation of Arches.  Recent statistics show that the Park receives less than 500,000 visitors a year.  As a result, it is a great place to find a little solitude.

Mesa Arch

77.  Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.  10/2014

Attractions:  Native American History, Ranger Programs, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  When the ruins were unprotected, theft of the ancient artifacts was a significant problem.  Many left the United States.  Concern over the plundering of Mesa Verde artifacts was an important catalyst for the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Mesa Verde National Park

78. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.  10/2014

Attractions:  Geology, Hiking, Mule Trains, California Condors, Photography, The Colorado River.

When to go:  Anytime, but be prepared for the crowds and the heat in Summer.

Good to know:  If you are interested in floating down the Canyon in the Colorado River, make your plans early.  Waiting times to get a spot range from two to three years.

Grand Canyon

79. Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona.  10/2014

Attractions:  Ancient Native American Ruins.

When to go:  Anytime

Good to know:  Montezuma’s Castle is just a few miles off Interstate 17 near Camp Verde, Arizona.  It is a great short stop on your way to the Grand Canyon or Sedona.

Montezuma

80. Saguaro National Park, Arizona.  11/2014

Attractions:  Saguaro Cacti, Desert Wildlife, Hiking, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Saguaro National Park has two units–west and east.  Both are excellent to visit.  Keep in mind, they are about an hour apart on opposite sides of the City of Tucson.

Saguaro National Park

81. White Sands National, New Mexico.  11/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Sand Boarding, Geology, Photography.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The White Sands National Monument borders the White Sands Missile Range.  The Monument closes from time-to-time for missile testing.  Check the Monument’s website under “alerts” before you go to avoid disappointment.

White Sands

82. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico.  11/2014

Attractions:  Caving, Photography, Exploration, Geology.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The nightly bat flight occurs seasonally at the main natural entrance.  Check with a Ranger to see if the bats have been flying.  For us, it was a once in a lifetime experience.  Photography in not allowed and the rule is enforced.

Carlsbad Caverns

83.  Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.  11/2014

Attractions:  Wildlife, Hiking, Western History, Mountaineering.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The signature hike of Guadalupe is McKittrick Canyon.  In late October to early November the Canyon is alive with brilliant Fall colors supplied by Bigtooth Maples .  Many people consider McKittrick to be the most beautiful place in Texas.

Guadalupe Mountains

84. Big Bend National Park, Texas.  11/2014

Attractions:  Hiking, Rafting, Photography, Wildlife.

When to go.  October through April.  May through September can be brutally hot.

Good to know:  Big Bend has  small population of Black Bears–estimated from 8 to 12.  When Big Bend was designated as a National Park in 1944 it had no Black Bears.  Biologists believe that these bears came to the Park in the 1980s–a rare event indeed.

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85.  Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Oklahoma.  January 2015

Attractions:  Ranger Programs, American History, Hiking, Night Sky Program.

When to go: Anytime.

Good to know:  Don’t skip the 27 minute film at the Visitor Center when you go.  It is excellent and will greatly enhance your understanding of the events that occurred here in 1868.

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

86. Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma.  January 2015

Attractions:  The Museum, Ranger Interpretation on the Grounds, Interactive Displays, Reflection.

When to go:  The grounds are always open.  The Museum is open 9 to 6 aily except Sundays when it opens at noon.

Good to know:  The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building occurred on April 19th, 1995.   The Museum will mark the 20th anniversary of this tragedy this year.

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

87.  Minuteman Missile National Historic Site,  South Dakota.  January 2015.

Attractions:  Museum Tour, Minuteman Missile Tours.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  The Site has a brand new Visitor Center.  Spend an hour or two when you visit Badlands National Park.  The Site is only a couple of miles away from the gate.

Minuteman Missile

88.   Badlands National Park,  South Dakota.  January 2015.

Attractions:  Sunsets, Wildlife, Geology, Photography, Hiking, Solitude.

When to go:  Anytime!  Winter and Spring are spectacular.

Good to know:   The Park has a South Unit which is managed by the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  The roads are difficult but don’t let that deter you.  Schedule a tour and go.  You will have the place to yourself.

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89. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.  January 2015

Attractions:  Wildlife, Ranger Tours, Hiking, Photography.

Good to know:  Theodore Roosevelt has three separate units.  The South Unit is by far the busiest.  It is right off Interstate 94.  We recommend going to the North Unit.  It has a higher landscape, excellent wildlife, and superb photography.  There are no crowds at the North Unit either.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

90.  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.  January 2015

Attractions:  Volcanic Geology, Wildlife, Thermal Features, Hiking, Photography, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Anytime.  Winter is especially compelling.

Good to know:  The road from the North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance is open year round.  The rest of the Park is open too but requires a snowmobile tour to see it.

Yellowstone National Park

91.  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  January 2014

Attractions:  Trail Ridge Road, Wildlife, Hiking, Cross Country Skiing, Hiking, Ranger Programs.

When to go:  Anytime, but be prepared for crowds in the Summer.

Good to know:  Lightning poses a significant danger to hikers in the high country in the Summer.  Unfortunately, two hikers were killed in the mountains in 2014.  Please take precautions.

Rocky Mountain National Park

92.  Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.  February 2015

Attractions:  Cave Tours, Hiking, Local History.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know:  Bats in Mammoth Cave are subject to White Nose Syndrome–a fatal disease for them.  Pease read these precautions before you go.  It is believed that people can spread the fungus from cave-to-cave.

 

93.  Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina.  February 2015.

Ft. Sumter

94.  Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.  February 2015.

Attractions:  Petrified Wood, Geology, Desert Landscapes, Fossils, Photography.

When to go: Anytime but be prepared for the heat in Summer.

Good to know:  The Petrified Forest is the only National Park which historic Route 66 ran through.  The Park celebrates this with a few displays.

Petrified Forest

95.  Cabrillo National Monument, California.  February 2015

Attractions:  Views of San Diego Harbor, History, Ocean Walks, Hiking.

When to go:  Anytime.

Good to know: Cabrillo National Monument is the starting point for a half marathon each August.  It is know as “America’s Finest City Half Marathon”.  It draws elite runners from around the world.

Cabrillo National Monument

96.  Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona.  February 2015.

Attractions:  Desert Foliage, Birding, Hiking, Photography.

When to go:  October through April.  Summer temperatures can peak at 120 degrees.

Good to know:  The Monument borders Mexico.  The road though the Monument has is an entry into Mexico and the United States.  Occasionally, visitors we see people crossing illegally into the United States.  The Monument urges visitors to steer clear.

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97.  Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona.  March 2015.

 

98.  Wupatki National Monument, Arizona.  March 2015.

 

99.  Lake Powell National Recreation Area, Arizona & Utah.  March 2015.

Lake Powell

100.  Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona.  March 2015.

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101.  Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona.  March 2015.

 

102.  Death Valley National Park, California.  March 2015.

Death Valley National Park

103.  Mojave National Preserve, California.  March 2015.

 

104.  Joshua Tree National Park, California.  March 2015.

 

105.  Channel Islands National Park, California.  March 2015.

 

106.  Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii.  March 2015.

 

107.  Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii.  March 2015.

 

108.  Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaii.  March 2015.

 

109.  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  March 2015.

Hawaii Volcanoes

110.   World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.  March 2015.

 

111.  National Park of American Samoa.  March–April 2015.

American Samoa

112.  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  April 2015

 

113.  Noatak National Preserve,  Alaska.  June 2015

 

114.  Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska.  June 2015

 

115.  Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska.  June 2015.

 

3 thoughts on “National Park Service Units Travelogue

  1. Wow. We LOVE the national parks, and have visited 42 (so far) of the 59, several of them many times.

    We’d love to pick your brains about some of the parks and your adventure sometime.

    Check out our blog, too! :)

    -Jeff & Erin

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