How Many National Parks Are There?
After I worked on my page of National Parks I’d visited, I decided to find out where I stood in my goal to see as many of them as I possibly can before I have to hang up the keys to the motorhome.
The National Park Service lists 60 with the official designation of National Park in their proper name, so I’m going to start marking them off from there by linking the ones I’ve done below.
I’m still counting Glacier as my favorite national park when pressed and have just one to choose. This hike was really a great one, but I never found the time to both write about what I’d done or do more, so maybe one of these days I’ll get caught up with that – probably when I just can’t do more.
I doubt I’ll ever make it to the Virgin Islands or American Samoa (at least in my RV), but I think I still have a shot at a good number of the remaining ones on the list. The bold ones are links to pages I’ve done with pictures:
Acadia National Park (Maine)
Arches National Park (Utah)
Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
Big Bend National Park (Texas)
Biscayne National Park (Florida)
Black Canyon of the Tonto National Park (Colorado) (on schedule for summer 2018)
Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)
Channel Islands National Park (California)
Congaree National Park (S. Carolina)
Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)
Death Valley National Park (California – Nevada)
Denali National Park (Alaska)
Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)
Everglades National Park (Florida)
Gates of the Arctic National Park (Alaska)
Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri and Illinois)
Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)
Glacier National Park (Montana)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
Great Basin National Park (Nevada)
Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (N. Carolina &Tennessee)
Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)
Haleakalā National Park (Hawaii)
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)
Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)
Joshua Tree National Park (California)
Katmai National Park (Alaska)
Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)
Kings Canyon National Park (California)
Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)
Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)
Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)
Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado) (on schedule for summer 2018)
Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa)
North Cascades National Park (Washington)
Olympic National Park (Washington)
Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Pinnacles National Park (California)
Redwood National Park (California)
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) (on schedule for summer 2018)
Saguaro National Park (Arizona) (I’m working on these pages and am determined to do them before I leave Tucson.)
Sequoia National Park (California)
Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)
Virgin Islands National Park (Virgin Islands)
Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)
Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (Alaska)
Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming)
Yosemite National Park (California)
Zion National Park (Utah)
Other National Park Systems:
List of all 417 parks by designation: Whatever they’re called, I’ve really enjoyed all the other National sites I’ve visited, too: the Battlefields, Historical Parks, Memorials, Lakeshores, Parkways and Recreation Areas. I may not have even known their national designation when I saw them, so I may be missing some from the lists below, but it was fun reliving these visits, too:
National Battlefield Parks:
Kennesaw Mountain (GA) (October 13, 2014) – I was never particularly interested in the Civil War during history lessons in school, but I definitely find the story of this conflict fascinating now. It’s inconceivable to me that in many cases it was literally brother fighting against brother as there was even division among families as to which cause was just and worth dying for.
National Military Parks:
Gettysburg, PA (October 16-17, 2001) – I just found out that the few digital pictures I did have from this visit during my first year of RVing were apparently among those lost in the Great computer crash of 2007. That’s the disgusting gift that just keeps giving as I am reminded of all the pictures I lost then. But here’s what I wrote in my journal about that visit:
“I had not known how beautiful the countryside is where this battle took place. We bought a cassette and map for a self guided tour of the landmarks and battle sites. It even had sound effects of the cannons booming through the peaceful landscape to reveal more of the reality of the conflict. More than 1,300 monuments and statues memorialize each parties’ loss in this important battle with symbolism and artistry. They seek to interpret and reconcile the incomprehensible – how brother fought brother in a war in which the enemy was not the feared stranger as in most combats. Before this political clash, we stood side by side against the British so that we could become a united nation. No lofty idealism here – the north may not have been so adamant against it if slavery was as advantageous economically to their industrial culture as it was to the south’s agricultural one. And how ironic that the south was fighting for the freedom to enable them to enslave another culture.
Shiloh (TN) – November 2014: After just walking around the Shiloh National Cemetery and coming out with tears in my eyes, I knew I was in for an emotional time during this visit.
National Historical Parks:
Chaco Culture (NM) – July 2002: This was a brief day trip when I was staying in Albuquerque, cut even shorter when bad weather came up. It’s such a fascinating place, it’s definitely on my list for a longer return visit!
Keweenaw (MI) (Michigan Miles)
“Michigan’s Top of the World” – When I was planning my summer of 2011 RVing around Michigan, I was frequently advised not to miss the Keweenaw Peninsula. I had been told about the Upper Peninsula being one of the most magical places in Michigan – and that Keweenaw was like the icing on that cake – a peninsula on a peninsula – the uppermost western tip of the U.P.
Pictured Rocks (MI) (blog post): And the thing is, I took over 300 photos and even some video. And they STILL don’t really show how glorious it is in its entirety. The whole experience – the sights, the sounds of the water, the sunshine and the people oohing and aahing…really an amazing trip!
Sleeping Bear Dunes (MI): I never got around to doing a full page about this since it was nearing the end of my time in Michigan and schedule was getting crazy, but it was such a great time when my daughter visited me here. Memories like this with families are the best!
Thomas Jefferson Memorial (DC) – I visited an RVer friend who lived in DC and had room for me in his driveway. It was great having a free site and a personal tour guide, if for nothing else but to navigate those confusing DC traffic circles!
I saw all the National Monuments I have listed below but just haven’t done pages on them all. Here I’ll at least include one picture with the link of the official websites in that case. If you want to see larger picture, click and it will open in separate window.
Bandelier (NM) – 2002: The ruins of these ancient cliff dwellings was my favorite site in Albuquerque. It was the first time I had been able to get up into the rooms on the ruins and it’s just so interesting to try to imagine what it felt like to live there.
Casa Grande Ruins (AZ) – March, 2017: These ruins have been slowly giving way back to the desert for more than 560 years. They’re trying to better protect them with this covering and by use of beams and rods to brace up some of the walls. These kind of places always intrigue me.
Chiricahua (AZ) – March 6, 2017: Columns, Pinnacles and Balanced Rocks – Oh My! This quote on a sign here from the 1964 Wilderness Act explains why I love these kind of places: “Wilderness is where the dearth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, and where man himself is only a visitor who does not remain.”
Fort Sumter (SC) – Dec. 2001: So early in my journey, I wound up with no decent pics to share. It’s a great visit, though, to see the place where the Civil War began. It was the start of my interest in seeing more of these historical sites and I started looking for them everywhere I went.
Gila Cliff Dwellings (NM) – Feb. 2017: I loved how you can walk through the remains of the rooms, some walls still charred from ancient fires. And the views are incredible. I even overcome one of my big fears here and climbed down that ladder!
Montezuma Castle (AZ) – Nov. 4, 2017: This is such a beautiful and sacred place and amazing to me how they managed to build such structures into such a high cliff! During one of my visits they were celebrating Native American Heritage Month. I even got a little YouTube video showing part of their dance.
Sunset Crater Volcano (AZ) – May 25, 2017: My friend Rochelle and I walked around the Lava Lake here. “The Bonito Lava Flow transformed this area into the jagged, chaotic landscape before you… known today as Sunset Crater Volcano.”
Tuzigoot (AZ) (Nov. 5, 2017) – I first caught a glimpse of this wonder when I was staying at Dead Horse Ranch State Park). As compelling as this distant view is, don’t miss the chance to actually walk into the ruins of the rooms built by an ancient people.
Walnut Canyon (AZ) – Nov. 27, 2017: This was the last day trip I did before leaving the area and I’m grateful to my Sedona friend, Nema, for insisting I shouldn’t leave the area without seeing this remarkable place! You can stroll the paths that run alongside the rooms and look across the canyon to see the distant dwellings, almost hidden among the cliffs.
Wupatki (AZ – near Flagstaff) – May 25, 2017: My friend Rochelle and I saw this on the same day we visited nearby Sunset Crater Volcano. If you’re into these kind of sites, don’t miss this one. “For its time and place, there was no other pueblo like Wupatki. Less than 800 years ago, it was the tallest, largest, and perhaps the richest and most influential pueblo around.”
Blue Ridge Parkway (NC-VA) – June-July, 2007: My mom and I saw all 469 mileposts from North Carolina to Virginia. Even though we tried to keep a reasonably stress-free schedule, it’s still not an easy task to properly “do” the Blue Ridge Parkway in a month. I’d be glad to have another shot at this drive!
Natchez Trace Parkway (MS) – October 27, 2014: I started from the Nashville end and saw all 444 miles though Alabama and into Mississippi. I spent a month seeing as many sights along the way that I possibly could. I love this drive and would gladly get on this parkway again!
National Recreation Areas:
Glen Canyon (AZ-UT) – July 2004: I had never seen a dam like this before and I was in absolute awe! This shot doesn’t even begin to show the scope and size of this project, but it’s pretty impressive!
Lake Mead (NV-AZ) – March 14-20, 2016: I enjoy boondocking so much more when I can be with friends, so this was a great time for me. We spent a few days at Government Wash and Stewart’s Point. WheelingIt has detailed info on camping here with road conditions, etc.: Government Wash – Stewart’s Point
More National Parks Information:
National Park Service – Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, we safeguard these special places and share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.
National Park Foundation – Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation is rooted in a legacy that began more than a century ago, when private citizens from all walks of life took action to establish and protect our national parks. Mission includes safeguarding our heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts.
National Park Maps – A collection of the National Park Service publications of tons of great free maps.
National Parks Traveler – Since August 2005 National Parks Traveler has been the Internet’s only site dedicated to covering America’s National Park System and the National Park Service on a daily basis. The Traveler is not a static site built around park statistics and trail descriptions and is not strictly a travelogue. Rather, it offers readers a unique multimedia blend of news, feature content, debate, and discussion all tied to America’s national parks.
National Park Travelers Club – The organization for anyone who enjoys collecting cancellations in the Passport to Your National Parks Program.
Vintage National Park Photos (National Geographic) – When Congress created the National Park Service in 1916, there were just 35 parks and monuments to manage and about a hundred million Americans to enjoy them. In this gallery, see photos of the national parks from an era when the country was just beginning to discover what writer Wallace Stegner called “the best idea we ever had.”
The Presidents and the National Park – (White House History.org) – Interesting info on the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) role within our national parks. “The work of the CCC encompassed building roads, bridges, forests, cabin camps, and park structures in parks nationwide. It was the largest park improvement program, and the magnitude of its achievement in the national parks has never been surpassed.”
America the Beautiful – Annual Pass for National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands
National Park Factoids:
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska) is the largest at 13.2 million acres!
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (PA) is the smallest at 0.02 acre.