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jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Are you making good use of the U.S. National Parks?

Asked by jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities (19687points) August 8th, 2010

The U.S. National Park Service was created in order to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” There are 58 National Parks in the United States, not counting National Preserves or National Monuments.

I’ve been very interested as of late in our National Parks; how they came to be, the history behind them, why they where chosen, how they’ve been managed and protected through the years, etc. To date, I’ve only been to 4 (with plans to see another in the next couple weeks), which I’m feeling a bit embarrassed about. There are even a few within a relatively short (half-day to full-day drive) distance from me that I have not yet seen. :(

So, how about you? How many have you been to? Which ones were your favorites? Any great stories/photos to share? Which NP would you most recommend to others?

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46 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

I camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Forest last weekend, actually. It was great.

I haven’t been to many others, but I’m planning on it in the near future.

BoBo1946's avatar

Just last weekend, visited Shiloh National Park and viewed all the paraphemalia pertaining to the battle that occured there. Really enjoyed it.

DominicX's avatar

I’ve been to 6 of them, all in the West:

Grand Canyon
Death Valley
Crater Lake

I’d love to go to more. Maybe I’ll make it my goal to visit all of them. :) Yellowstone is next on my list. Of the ones I’ve been to so far, Yosemite and Grand Canyon are my favorites. Everyone should see both of those. Crater Lake is pretty amazing as well, just don’t go when it’s hazy. (I’ve been there twice, the second time it was so hazy from wildfires, you couldn’t even see the lake. Waste of time).

BoBo1946's avatar

Oh, @DominicX reminded me of my trip to Yellowstone! Wow…very beautiful area.

Also, went to Jackson Hole, Wild Bill Cody Museum. One of my best trips…love the West! Btw, in Jackson Hole, the saloons have saddles to sit on at the bar…loved talking to the cowboys!

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@DominicX Wow! If you add Sequoia and Yellowstone NP to your list, you’d come up with all of the major ones on my to-do list. Lucky you!

DrBill's avatar

Every chance I get

syz's avatar

As often as I can, but not nearly as much as I would like to.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I’ve only been to the grand canyon so far. All I can remember was how unbearable the heat was. I do plan on going to other parks in the future (if I can find the time or the money for plane tickets/hotel rooms/etc)

BoBo1946's avatar

excuse me, occurred there….just saw my error.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I used to visit Rocky Mountain National Park once a month or so when I lived in Boulder. Living in Oregon, I have yet to visit Crater Lake NP, our only one, but I do use the surrounding national forests often for hiking, biking, camping, fishing and generally enjoying and appreciating the outdoors.

ipso's avatar

19 and counting.

Ken Burns’s PBS series on the National Parks is amazing!

My parents lived just outside Yosemite for a decade. An old girlfriend and I would do multi day hikes all over Yosemite. Yellowstone is like Mars, and the most unearthly place I’ve been; Grand Tetons the most beautiful.

All that said, the big Redwoods and Sequoias are my favorite – the most majestic and beautiful moments.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@Mamradpivo Yeah, Rocky Mountain NP is the one I’ve seen the most of too. I used to go there once every couple weeks, to hike and do a bit of photography. Such a wonderful place!

Kayak8's avatar

I even have the National Parks PassportPassport-To-Your-National-Parks/ and I collect stamps from everyone I have been to in the recent past (didn’t have it when I was a kid).

Mississippi: Vicksburg
Louisiana: Jean Lafitte, New Orleans Jazz
Arizona: Grand Canyon
New Mexico: White Sands
Pennsylvania: Gettysburg
North Carolina: Fort Raleigh, Cape Hatteras
Virginia: Manassas, Richmond
West VA: Harper’s Ferry
California: Joshua Tree
Colorado: Rocky Mountain
Tenn: Shiloh
Hawaii: Haleakala
Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes
Florida: Everglades
Nebraska: Pony Express Trail
DC: Constitution Gardens, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument

I LOVE our National Parks System!!!!

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a National Park. Crazy, huh?!

We go to a lot of state parks here in CT, and most are very nice. Last summer I signed us up for something called The Great Park Pursuit (part of the No Child Left Inside program), which was kind of like a contest where each “team” had to visit a different state park each week and complete certain activities. The last event was a contest between teams that had completed all of the activities, and turned out to be a written test that we failed miserably. Silly us, we thought the point was to have fun as a family, not to memorize plant life and learn to identify bird songs! :P

GeorgeGee's avatar

You can’t do justice to the national parks in a weekend, and you can barely see one park in a week, so no, I haven’t had the time to really appreciate the majority of them yet, but I’ve spent some time at Yosemite, Grand Canyon and a couple of others, and hope some day to get so see some more.

BoBo1946's avatar

@Kayak8 i’ve done some of those…very impressive! Some that I visited were many years ago.
Mississippi: Vicksburg
Louisiana: Jean Lafitte, New Orleans Jazz
Pennsylvania: Gettysburg
North Carolina: Fort Raleigh, Cape Hatteras
Virginia: Manassas, Richmond
Colorado: Rocky Mountain
Tenn: Shiloh
Florida: Everglades
DC: Constitution Gardens, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument

Lightlyseared's avatar

No, not really. I’d love to do the Appalachian trail but it’s a bit out of my way.

marinelife's avatar

I love the National park system, and I have visited a lot of them.

Grand Canyon
Petrified Forest
Ebey’s Landing
Mt. Rainier
Olympic National Park
Independence National Historical Park
Valley Forge
Blue Ridge Parkway
George Washington Parkway
Wolf Trap

There are a lot more on my list to be visited.

Aethelwine's avatar

I don’t have time to name them all right now, but I have been to many. My parents always took us to National Parks when we vacationed. I think that is why I have always loved the outdoors. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in the Smokies. We loved it so much there, we stayed several days longer than we had planned.

Give me a National Park over Vegas, Cancun or a cruise ship any day.

Coloma's avatar

I practically live in a state park.

The Marshall Gold discovery site and state park is only 8 minutes down the road from me.

I pass through the main body of the park every day nearly on my way to one of 3 small resort markets in the area.

Beautiful park right on the river.

Frenchfry's avatar

I go to several here in Florida.. Love them… Hiking, picnicing and camping is my thing. I live right near the Everglades.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have been to many of them over the years, and I would love to get out more, if only I could take to the road on a big RV.

Brian1946's avatar


Where have you been in Yosemite?

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Some of you guys are confusing National Parks with monuments, memorials, military parks, state parks, national & state forests, etc. Here are the ones I was referring to. But, it’s all good. Any day spent in the great outdoors is a day well spent, in my opinion. Keep em’ coming. :)

BarnacleBill's avatar

Red River Gorge National Archeological Region
Mammoth Cave
Smokey Mountains
Grand Canyon

DominicX's avatar


I’ve mostly been to the central area near Yosemite Valley and Yosemite Village. But I’ve also been to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not sure which parks are state or national, but I go to a lot of them in CA.

Smashley's avatar

I spent a good many summers in Yellowstone and absolutely loved it! I worked regularly and went from being an unskilled nobody to managing a team, and managed to save up a good amount of money on the side, but that was only half the fun. Because I lived inside the park, I was hiking pretty much all the time, or hitching rides around the park, meeting the animals, soaking in hot springs, gazing at geysers, fly fishing, playing disc golf, climbing mountains, meeting amazing new people from dozens of different countries and states, and generally getting in shape and getting a great tan. I even met a very special someone there.

The National Parks really do deserve the moniker of “America’s best idea”, but I feel you really have to get to know them to appreciate the truth of this term. Touring through them can be fun, but for anyone who’s really interested in getting to know the parks more intimately, I recommend just going out and living in one for a while. (not a citizen? there are plenty of approved agencies that will help you get a visa!)

Tourists come through the parks pretty regularly during the summers, and in some parks, this traffic continues even through the winter. There are literally hundreds of different jobs that need staff on a pretty continual basis, and if you have just have a desire to enjoy the great places of America, want to live out there permanently, or just want a summer job, getting employment is really no problem. There are jobs available in many many fields, including, but not limited to, food service (fast food or sit down), hotel staff, reservations, bus driving, horse guiding, boat touring, maintenance, recreation co-ordination, security, retail, accounting, front desk, and many specialized in between positions, for many levels of experience, including (which was good for me) absolutely none. All you really need is the desire for adventure, the time to do a little research and find out where you’d like to go, and then apply (usually can be done online).

And don’t worry about logistics or comfort, though you may have to have a roommate, everything will be handled. Most places have wireless internet, food and housing is dirt cheap and comes out of your paycheck, meaning you never even have to worry about it. Transportation is available from the parks to towns or cities with airports, stores and bus stations, or you can bring your RV or car drive yourself around. Personally, I liked to escape from time to time to a nearby town to sip quality coffee and stare at my mountains as the shadows hit the hilltops.

Wow. So that sounded like an ad, but I do think it’s a great way to learn about nature and the parks, as well as do about a million other great things, and I feel that not enough people realize how easy it is to enjoy the parks in this way. This isn’t unique to Yellowstone either. Any park that has tourists will need staff, and there are no rules for what “kind of person” you need to be. If you like, or think you might like it, I just go for it! I’ve known family men from Jamaica who came to earn money for their kids, bright-eyed teens, looking for adventure and direction, 30-something-ish wanderers and their significant others, looking for excitement and a reasonable 401K plan, who rented houses in nearby towns, retired couples, living in a camper, just there to work an easy job and stay active, or going on “vacations” they couldn’t afford, writers looking for inspiration, outcasts looking for a second chance, unemployed geniuses just happy to meet new people, European students earning money for the summer, Columbian musicians just wanting to see America, and about every kind of person in between.

For me, it was a magical and influential time of my life, and some of the best times I’ve ever had with the best people I’ve ever known.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I spent a week in the Redwoods National/State Park a couple years ago and it was one of my favorite camping trips. I forgot about that one as an NP.

Aster's avatar

Valley Forge
Grand Tetons (is that Rocky Mt Nat Park?)
Grand Canyon
Rocky Mt National Park
Smokey Mts
And the one in Hot Springs that lasts ¼ mile!

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@Aster Nope, Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton are two very different places. One is in Colorado, and the other is in Wyoming.

Aster's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities I know; but the Q was about National Forests so I wondered if they were both Rocky Mt National Park? The Tetons are not the Rockies???

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@Aster They are both part of the Rocky Mountains, which are huge, and contain many state and national forests, in addition to state and national parks. But Grand Teton NP and Rocky Mountain NP are two separate parks.

SundayKittens's avatar

I demand more swingsets. Call Washington.

Aster's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities thank you . so I have been to Grand Teton Nat Park And Rocky Mt Nat Park! (actually, camped out a lot in both)

Sarcasm's avatar

Wow. I really wish I could say I have.
The only national park I can remember going to was the Grand Canyon, which we visited in our great Westward migration in ‘97 (so i was 7 at the time).
I’m definitely going to have to check out national parks next time I actually go somewhere.

wilma's avatar

Denali and Glacier Bay in Alaska
Haleakala and Hawaiian Volcanoes in Hawaii
Isle Royal in Michigan
I would love to see more of them.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@wilma How was Glacier Bay? I’ve recently visited Denali and Kenai Fjords, and am planning on Wrangell-St. Elias. Glacier Bay wasn’t on my list, but maybe it should be.

saraSKELLINGTON's avatar

Ive always wanted to visit one! But I never got to. I want to visit yellowstone one day.

downtide's avatar

I’m not in the US but we have some National Parks in the UK too. The nearest one to me is the Peak District, which I can get to on the bus in about half an hour. I used to do a lot of hill walking there, but not so much now my knees are getting creaky.

wilma's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities It’s in Alaska, what’s not to love!
It was a quick trip from a cruise ship, I would have liked to spend more time there. Denali was my favorite part of Alaska, we had a perfect view of the mountain. I still get a flutter in my heart when I think on it.
If you ever have the time, check out Isle Royal, very unique, especially if you like to hear the call of wolves and loons. I got chased by a moose, but that is a story for another time.

Kayak8's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Point noted for National Park Service Parks, but here is the list of National Park Service Facilities (all of those run by the National Park Service—which includes a number of monuments, etc).

Hey, if they stamp my little book, I am a happy camper!

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. At least 6–8 over the next 3–4 weeks.

lilikoi's avatar

No! I haven’t been to most of them. Then, the ones I do go to, they are huge and I only get to see a tiny sliver of it. But that is always the case, isn’t it. I wouldn’t mind taking two years and roadtripping it to all the parks. Would 2 years even be enough? Not sure. I just recently learned they often take seasonal live-in volunteers, which sounds to me like a great opportunity to learn how to cold-weather camp/hike! I am still trying to cross “see snow actually falling” off my “bucket list”.

YARNLADY's avatar

I forgot to mention when I visited Yosemite last year they gave me a senior pass to enter all parks free.

mattbrowne's avatar

Just came back. They were wonderful!

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