We Lived our Dream -- 15 Years on the Road
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 This page last updated: Sun Apr 09, 2017

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The Crown Jewels of the United States: Our National Parks

Many of the highlights of our travels were in the National Parks. There are currently a total of 413 units administered by the National Park Service (listed here), but only 59 designated as National Parks (listed here). We visited perhaps half of the 47 National parks in the 48 contiguous states.

This page will contain sample pictures and links to pages for each of the National Parks we visited, plus links for National Lakeshores and National Seashores, which are not generally counted as National Parks, but that offer everything you have come to expect in a National Park.

Acadia National Park ME

Acadia National Park, ME.

Acadia, where the mountains meet the sea.

Joshua Tree NP, CA

Sunrise on Cadillac Mtn in Acadia National Park (ME). The first place light hits the United States each day (along with Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park ME).

9 National Parks in California, we saw 4

Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Sierra, Yosemite

Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite NP, CA.

Closer view of Bridal Veil Falls,Yosemite National Park during an April snowstorm.

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, CA.

Joshua Tree National Park is not well known, but well worth exploring. The San Andreas Fault (above) is on the edge of the park.

Yosemite NP, CA

Yosemite Valley has incredible beauty. An example is the Merced River in front of El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls as shown above.

Joshua Tree NP, CA

The Joshua Tree is one of the unusual plants found in Joshua Tree National Park.

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CA.

The waterfalls at Yosemite are best in the early Spring, while back roads are still closed or snow covered and chains are required.

General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park.

The General Sherman Tree Sequoia - King's Canyon National Parks. The largest tree on earth. Sequoia include the High Sierra and Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the 48 contiguous states.

Metropolis IL is SUPER! with a bronze statue of Superman

The General Grant Tree Sequoia - King's Canyon National Parks, the second largest tree on earth.

Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park
There are five sections to Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park is impressive in its grandeur and scale.
Most people see the South Rim West Drive Drive.
Many see the South Rim East Drive.
Only those in great physical shape should hike the Inner Canyon. Mule rides are only available for those under 200 lbs.
Less than 15% make it to the North Rim.
Only 1% have even heard of remote Torroweap. Fewer have been there. It is 55 miles of washboard gravel. The trip from the Ranger Station to the view points is even worse. The views, however,are awesome, The Colorado River is 3000 feet straight down if you have the nerve to stand on the edge.

Navajo Point, Grand Canyon NP, AZ.

Navajo Point is on the West Drive of the South Rim.

Joshua Tree NP, CA

Phantom Ranch, part of the Inner Canyon, is about one-half mile lower than Mather Point on the East Drive of the South Rim.

Phyllis near Bright Angel Point, North Rim, National Park.

Angel Point on the North Rim.


Remote and seldom visited Torroweap has awesome views.

Grand Teton National Park WY

Grand Teton NP, WP

Grand Teton NP in Wyoming. One of Americas Crown Jewels. Click any picture to get a larger image.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park TN NC

The most visited National Park in the United States for many reasons.

Majestic Mt. LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN.

Mt. LeConte from Newfound Gap Road, the definition of majestic.

Rocky Top GSMNP, TN NC border

The Appalachian Trail is the state line (TN NC) through much of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including here at Rocky Top. It is a strenuous uphill hike from the valley floor.

Rocky Top GSMNP, TN NC border

The Appalachian Trail is the state line (TN NC) through much of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including here at Charlies Bunion, a 4 plus mile hike from the nearest road.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The magic of the area is best appreciated after having visited many others.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

I grew up near what is now the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I was surprised to see only two pictures in my files. I will keep hunting.

Mammoth Cave Kentucky

Water moving through rock for many thousands of years creates the longest cave in the USA

Mammoth Cave National Park.

Flowstone like Frozen Niagara is a major part of the appeal.

Mammoth Cave National Park.

Like all water formed caves, there are passages that are very narrow in Mammoth Cave.

Mammoth Cave National Park.

During the War of 1812, some components of gunpowder were mined at Mammoth Cave. The wooden pipes are still there..


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore & Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

We no longer have the ability to actively enjoy the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We have to be content to enjoy the outstanding scenery.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A place made for active children.

Lover's Leap, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Lover's Leap, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, from a tour boat. Note the kayaker for a sense of scale.

Painted Rocks, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Painted Rocks in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, from the same tour boat.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from the Munising Overlook. Most of the good views are from a boat. This overlook gives a stunning overview and the boat will take you up close to what you see here and more. The Munising Tourist Park Campground was a great place for us to stay in September.

North Carolina: Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras is the part of North Carolina barrier islands that sticks into the ocean. The area off the point of the cape is Diamond Shoals. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the country, building was completed in 1870. In 1999 it was moved. I happened to be there. The middle picture below is its arrival at its new location. Note the crew posing and the large format camera on a tripod.

Diamond Shoals is formed by two currents rushing into each other at a 90 degree angle. This has been the cause of many shipwrecks, and was a favorite hunting ground for German U-boats in WWII.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore near Diamond Shoals.

Cape Hatteras Light House, Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Cape Hatteras Light House, as it arrived its new location.

Pelican Diving.

Pelican Diving near Canadian Hole.

South Dakota

Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park.

Natural Cave Entrance, Wind Cave NP, SD.

The natural entrance Wind Cave National Park belies the importance of the cave and the park.

Box Work Lattice in Wind Cave NP, SD.

Box Work Lattice in Wind Cave National Park is unique in the world.

Elk in Wind Cave National Park, SD.

The most amazing thing about Wind Cave National Park is the wildlife in the surface section. This includes Elk, Bison. Prairie Dogs, and Coyote.

Coyote in Wind Cave National Park.

Wind Cave National Park borders on perhaps the most amazing state park in the USA, Custer State Park SD. This coyote probably wanders in both.

Coyote in Wind Cave National Park.

You can picture hunters from hundreds of years ago watching game and planning their hunt from Ancient Hunters Overlook in Badlands National Park, SD.

Natural Cave Entrance, Wind Cave NP, SD.

You can see summer storms, approaching from many miles away in Badlands National Park, SD.

RV going through the Gold Hills.

RV going through the Gold Hills in Badlands NP SD.

Other Worldly, Badlands National Park, SD.

Parts of Badlands National Park in SD are like visiting another world.

Texas has 3 National Parks

We visited 2, Big Bend National Park & Padre Island National Seashore.

Truck on Beach. Padre Island TX.

Drive the Beach!  Padre Island National Seashore. The Coastal Bend of Texas has mild winters. December and February are often good times for the beach.

Paul, Phyllis, Roscoe and Harpo enjoying the beach at Padre Island National Seashore.

Padre Island National Seashore is a great place to relax and enjoy a natural seashore.

Pelican Flight. Padre Island TX.

Pelican Flight.  Padre Island National Seashore has plenty of wildlife.

South Canyon, Big Bend NP.

The cliff on the left is in the US. The one on the right is in Mexico. South Canyon in Big Bend National Park.

Chisos Moutains in Big Bend National Park.

Some of the best hiking in Texas is in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.

Javelinos in Big Bend National Park.

Wildlife includes Javelinos.

Utah has 5 National Parks

plus a Navajo Nation Park called Monument Valley.
Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capital Reef, Canyonlands, Arches. We enjoyed visiting all of them.

Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park UT.

Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park is an incredible 270 degree view. Picture above is the whole view. It is actually 55 photographs, stitched together by AutoStitch, and straightened. Click the picture for a larger version or perhaps you will want to see a HUGE VERSION. We consider this view the second best view we saw in our travels.

Wooden Shoe Arch, Canyonlands National Park, UT..

One of the funniest natural sites we have seen is Wooden Shoe Arch in Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

The Organ and Great White Throne, Zion National Park, UT.

The Organ and Great White Throne Zion National Park UT.

Double Arch, Arches National Park UT.

Double Arch in Arches National Park UT.

The Organ, Capital Reef National Park, UT.

The Organ. Capital Reef National Park UT.

The Mittens in Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park.

The Mittens in Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park.

Sunset Glow, Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its "sunset glow" of large rocks and cliffs.

Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park UT.

Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park is an wonderful view.

Yellowstone National Park.

The Oldest National Park in the world, and the finest.
We spent a second wonderful summers here, and we feel like we finished scratching the surface.

The most wonderful view we have seen in our travels is Artist Point in Yellowstone National Park. The picture below left is only part of the view. See second year preview for movies.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park.

One of several fabulous views from Artist Point in Yellowstone National Park.

Riverside Geyser, complete with Rainbow.

Top of Mammoth Hot Springs, looking down at the 'town'.

Top of Mammoth Hot Springs, looking down at the 'town'. in Yellowstone National Park.

Bison on Road. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is famous for its wildlife, both Mammals and birds.

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