Monday, April 18, 2011

Ten National Parks that I Want to Visit

road trip day 3 024

My family has traveled pretty extensively East of the Mississippi. Sure there are some regions that we’ve yet to explore, like the New England States, but other than that, I think we’ve visited every other state at least once.

It’s time that we venture West a bit and we’re hoping that 2011 is the year that dream will finally come true. We’re busy planning a trip to Seattle, Washington and along the way we’d like to spend time in some of the National Parks. I know we won’t have time to explore them all but if time and money were no object, here are ten that I’d love to visit.

1. The Gateway Arch, which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial,  in St. Louis, Missouri

How could we not enter the West without visiting the Museum of Westward Expansion? This just seems like a logical stop to me.     

2. Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

For as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. This is a definite stop, even if we have to drive out of our way to get there! 

3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Any park that spans three states is worthy of a vacation all on it’s own. Unfortunately we won’t have the luxury to fully explore Yellowstone this time around but we can’t travel out West and miss stepping foot in the very first National Park.  I haven’t even begun to plan this stop, but I know my family will want to see some of the hot springs and Old Faithful.  My boys probably wouldn’t be too disappointed if they saw a bear, bison or elk and as long as they weren’t too close, I’d be okay with that too.

4. The Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The Badlands have been recommended to me on more than one occasion and the pictures certainly look beautiful, though I’ve been told that they really don’t do the area justice. I guess it’s just one of those places that you have to see for yourself.

5. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

I didn’t even know such a beautiful picture perfect place existed until I participated in a post card exchange when my children were younger. We received a picture of a mountain reflected in a beautiful lake. Ahhh….how could we resist?

6. Mt. Rainier Glacier National Park, Washington

This stop is personal, a dear friend of ours that has since passed often spoke fondly of her visits to Mt. Rainier and encouraged us to visit if we ever had to the chance. This stop is for her, our dearly missed adopted grandmother. 

7. Mt. St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument, Washington

I was in 4th grade when this volcano blew its top. I still remember being envious when a classmates’ grandparent’s sent him a jar of ash. It’s time for me to go buy my own bottle of dust. 

8. The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

If we are able to make it to this National Park on this trip, I will be amazed for more reasons than one.

9. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

If we do make it a bit South this time around, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to check out the cliff dwellings.

10. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

It seems that I keep adding and adding to our trip. See, that’s my problem. I just never know when to stop.

Have you been to any of these National Parks? I’d love to hear any tips that you have to offer or recommendations of other parks that you really loved- especially those in the Northwest.  

This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.



  1. Awesome list! It would be so much fun!!

  2. Those are places I would like to go also. :)

  3. I've done Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and the Grand Canyon. All fabulous. I particularly love the Badlands, but that was my first time seeing the desert, so it blew me away! The others sound great too!

  4. We went to the Arch in February during our move across the country. We are in Washington now and hope to visit Yellowstone soon.

  5. I would love to visit each and everyone of these parks! We are planning for a cross country RV trip next year, so this is a great list for my planning. I can't wait to look around your sites and get some great tips and stories for full time RVing

  6. Great list - thanks for sharing - I'd love to go all those places, too!

  7. Great list! When I read it all I could think about was the beautiful pictures you could get while visiting!

  8. I've actually been to most all of those! (Exceptions being Carlsbad Caverns and Mesa Verde) I'm a West Coast gal at heart, and my favorites also include Yosemite and Kings Canyon. Two of the most beautiful places on earth (well, the part of the earth that I've seen so far, anyway!) They're in CA though, so they're probably a little south of where you want to go. Visiting today from Top Ten Tuesday.

  9. What a great list! We have been to four: Mt. Rushmore (if you get a chance be sure to walk the trails - you will get some incredible views from just below the mountain); Badlands - our favorite part of this was the ability to get out and actually walk among and touch the ever changing landscape; Mesa Verde - we were so thankful that we took the time to drive the loops that were open - what awe inspiring views! Be sure to get out at EVERY pull out area - even if it doesn't look like anything. A short walk will bring you to something amazing.If you have time in that area, there are several other sites worth walking through - another national park near there that we almost skipped over is Aztec Ruins National Monument - not that you need another stop on that list! It's been a few years since we visited Carlsbad Caverns, but that is one I've enjoyed since I was a child.

  10. Hi Tonya! I love your list! For a while now my family has wanted to travel the country too! It was neat to read about the national parks that you want to visit, and to think that maybe someday we could do the same. :) Some years ago we visited the Gateway Arch and rode the small elevator to the top. It was really neat from what I remember. You and your family will really like it!

  11. You will love both Mount St Helens and Mount Rainier. Both places are so beautiful. Well Mount St Helens is truly awesome just in the way she is rebuilding herself, and at such a fast rate.

  12. The blog is very good!

  13. If you have tips for visiting either of those places, I'd love for you to share. :)

  14. I'm not looking forward to getting crammed into that teeny tiny cart that will take us to the top...but I'm sure it will be unforgettable! lol Did I mention I'm afraid of heights?

  15. Thanks for advice. I love to glean from others that have actually been where I want to go. :) I know we're going to have to be practical and shorten our trip but if I had it my way we'd stop everywhere! I'll take a look at the Aztec Ruins National Monument too- thanks for mentioning it. :)

  16. California will have to wait for another trip out West- that will be a vacation in itself!

  17.'ll be sure to pack plenty of batteries and an extra memory card!

  18. 10 Things for Visiting National Parks in the West

    10. Get a National Parks Pass. Free entrance into parks and savings in the Gift Shops.
    9. Make sure if you have kids to inquire at each park about Junior Ranger Programs.
    8. While at Yellowstone you can check out Junior Science Kits where your kids can do some pretty cool experiments around Old Faithful.
    7. After Old Faithful head over to Hayden Valley near Sunset. This is where the Bison roam right next to the road. Amazing.
    6. Also while at Yellowstone make sure to visit the Canyon Area and see both the Upper and Lower Falls. You can stand right above the Upper Falls, and the roar of the rushing water is incredible.
    5. Badlands is definitely worth the stop. Make sure to find the Prairie Dog area.
    4. Mt. Rushmore was a little underwhelming for us in person. It is much smaller than every time you have seen it on television or in a movie. They do have a cool visitor center.
    3. If you find yourself in Southern Colorado make sure to make a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is a true natural wonder of our country.
    2. Mt. St. Helens is a must see as well. It is incredible to view the area from the visitor center and to be able to still see the physical impact of the eruption.
    1. Be sure to check out to see our thoughts on our travels to all 48 states this year.

  19. Thanks for the tips! I love to glean tips from those that have 'gone before'! So glad you shared! :)

  20. South Dakota TourismApril 25, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Glad to hear that Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park are both on your list - they are both places that you have to see to believe, and that's what South Dakota is all about. Hopefully you can make it this way soon!

    Katlyn Richter
    South Dakota Dept. Tourism
    Facebook - South Dakota Tourism


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