Quick – no cheating now – how many National Parks are there? And by National Parks, I am including parks, monuments, preserves, historic sites, battlefields, military parks, recreation areas, seashores, lakeshores, rivers, parkways, and trails. No fair looking it up on the internet – just give it your best shot and see how close you were when I reveal the answer at the end of this post.
We are so blessed to live in a richly diverse country that soars from the heights of Denali in Alaska to the lowest spot in North America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley California. Because we are a young nation, we have been able to set aside monuments and battlefields almost from their creation. So we have Valley Forge, Antietam, and the Tuskegee Airmen. We have the Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. We can raft down the Niobrara Wild and Scenic river, explore the San Juan Islands, or see the wild ponies at Assateague. We can see dinosaur bones, giant trees, and mountain peaks that take our breath away (from the altitude, naturally).
Tom and I are exploring the National Parks in our retirement. We hit a lot of them while we were working, but they were fast trips that always left us feeling like we had merely snacked on the place, not eaten a full meal. As RV volunteers in the parks we get a place to park our RV with full hook-ups that is right in the middle of the park! We get to know the park intimately and have plenty of time to explore. But even with three months at a time in each park, we still feel like we leave wanting to know more, explore more, see more.
Here is a picture gallery with some of our favorites. There are a lot of pictures, so don’t feel like you have to take time to look at them all.
Next year, 2016, is the Centennial of the National Park Service. The National Park Service is already celebrating by inviting everyone to “find your park“: tell a story about your favorite park online or visit a national park and put a pin in your favorite park.
So how many National Parks are there? With the creation of the Manhattan Project National Park last week, there are now 409 National Parks! Which ones have you visited? Which is your favorite and why?