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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
9 National Parks in California, we saw 4
Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Sierra, Yosemite
Closer view of Bridal Veil Falls,Yosemite National Park during an April snowstorm.
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 Valley has incredible beauty. An example is the Merced River in front of El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls as shown above.
The Joshua Tree is one of the unusual plants found in Joshua Tree National Park.
The waterfalls at Yosemite are best in the early Spring, while back roads are still closed or snow covered and chains are required.
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.
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.
Grand Teton National Park WY
Great Smoky Mountains National Park TN NC
The most visited National Park in the United States for many reasons.
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.
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
Mammoth Cave Kentucky
Water moving through rock for many thousands of years creates the longest cave in the USA
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore & 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 in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, from the same tour boat.
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.
Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park.
The natural entrance Wind Cave National Park belies the importance of the cave and the park.
Box Work Lattice in Wind Cave National Park is unique in the world.
The most amazing thing about Wind Cave National Park is the wildlife in the surface section. This includes Elk, Bison. Prairie Dogs, and Coyote.
Texas has 3 National Parks
We visited 2, Big Bend National Park & Padre Island National Seashore.
Padre Island National Seashore is a great place to relax and enjoy a natural seashore.
Pelican Flight. Padre Island National Seashore has plenty of wildlife.
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 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.
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.