The National Park system of the United States has been a model for the entire world since its inception. It flowed from the vision of Theodore Roosevelt to preserve and protect our special places. From Yellowstone, our nation’s first national park, to the new areas being set aside even today, America has committed itself to immortalizing and maintaining areas which have considerable beauty, historical significance, or cultural value for future generations. Could there be a nobler enterprise?
A visit to a national park should be a requirement for citizenship, and frequent visits should be encouraged throughout a person’ s life. Lee and I have spent time in many of America’s national parks and some of these visits have been among the most memorable in our travels.
Other countries around the world have also adopted the American idea and have begun to preserve large areas. The United Nations has included many of these national parks as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
But this post is about America and its national parks, so here is a list with pictures of the parks that we have visited.
In the East, we have gone to Acadia National Park in Maine
and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina/Tennessee
as well as Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
In Florida, we have seen Biscayne National Park, near Miami
and the Everglades
In the Caribbean, the US has Virgin Islands National Park which features the island sanctuary of St John
The largest cave system in the world is preserved as Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky
In the Southwest, there is another cave system which is even more impressive, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in New Mexico
In the region known as the Colorado Plateau, there are a number of national parks. In Utah, we traveled to Bryce Canyon
with its hoodoos, like Thor’s Hammer
Also in Utah is Capitol Reef National Park where a portion of the Waterpocket Fold, an extensive geological feature, is preserved.
Utah is also the home of Zion National Park, a sort of Grand Canyon upside-down where visitors are in the bottom of the canyon looking up at the walls
Of course, the most famous national park in the Colorado Plateau is Grand Canyon National Park, one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places on the planet.
Also in Arizona is Petrified Forest National Park with its amazing trees turned into rock
and its colorful Painted Desert
Further south in Arizona is Saguaro National Park, created to preserve the largest variety of cactus in the world
Lastly in the namesake of this region, Colorado, is Mesa Verde National Park, which preserves the rock homes of Native American communities.
Moving to the Pacific Southwest, there are a number of significant parks. In California, you will find Yosemite, one of the gems of the park system.
with its incredible vistas and striking glacial geology. Notice the awesome view from Washburn Point
Also in California is the eerie and otherworldly landscape of Death Valley National Park. Notice the colorful Red Cathedral area
and the flat barren landscape of Badwater, the lowest point on land in the Western Hemisphere.
and the interesting features at Zabriskie Point
Also in California are the twin parks of Sequoia-Kings Canyon which feature the largest living things in the world, the Giant Sequoias.
and the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon
The Hawaiian Islands contain several national parks as well. I have featured Haleakala National Park in another post recently
and of course the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island where visitors can actually see red-hot magma
and the crater of Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes
Another region with several national parks is the Rocky Mountain area. Parks here include Grand Teton National Park, in Wyoming
Nearby is Yellowstone National Park, the standard-bearer of the entire system, with its many geothermal features such as
and its sheer beauty
Another favorite Rocky Mountain destination is Glacier National Park in Montana
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is another place where breathtaking vistas are common.
Next we move to the Pacific Northwest where volcanic mountains are fairly common and a significant attraction.
Mount Rainier dominates the Seattle area.
The national park here surrounds the mountain.
On the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle, Olympic National Park combines a variety of ecosystems into a huge and popular destination. There are mountains
There are beaches
and there is a unique ecosystem known as a Temperate Rain Forest
Also in this region is Crater Lake, the remains of Mt Mazama
and Lassen Volcanic National Park, in northern California
Finally, in Alaska, there is Denali National Park, celebrating the tallest mountain in North America, Mt McKinley,
We spent some time in the national park as well
and last, but not least, Glacier Bay National Park, a symphony of glaciers