Mind if I babble about my NPS nerdery? Cool.
As I said, one of my life goals is to visit all 59 National Parks. When I tell people this, they’re surprised that there are only 59.
The National Park Service operates 401 units in the United States and its territories. These include national monuments, national historic sites, national battlefield parks, national forests and rivers, and other sorts of sites. Of these, the jewels in the crown are the 59 National Parks. Many places people think of as being national parks are actually not. Mount Rushmore isn’t - it’s a National Monument. Sometimes a pre-existing NPS site will get the big upgrade to a National Park - Pinnacles recreation area in California got the upgrade to NP a couple of years ago and became the 59th park.
My goal of visiting all 59 is pretty ambitious, since I’m already 40 and I’ve been to exactly four (Olympic, Grand Canyon, Cuyahoga Valley and Great Smoky Mountain).
The problem is that there are only a few that I can get to without either a long road trip or a plane ticket: Cuyahoga Valley, Mammoth Cave (in Kentucky), Shenandoah, and Great Smoky. At a stretch you could add Acadia, in Maine.
Eight of the national parks are in Alaska. Two are in Hawaii. One’s in American Samoa, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I’m thinking it’ll take me awhile to check that one off.
But if I do my road trip to the Black Hills this fall, I can knock off three. One trip to southeastern Utah could get me five or six.
AND SO I PLOT.
But some of the parks I don’t want to visit for one day. Yellowstone needs at least a week by itself. Argh.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is fantastic and changes every day because of the activity! Though most of it’s underwater right now. We spent about one day actually in the park (out of a week on the island) and it was OK but a couple more days would have been rad. My favorite part was going down to where the road is closed because it’s covered with lava.