Ruth and I have not officially been to 13 National Parks. In Alaska we have been to Glacier Bay on a boat and have sighted Wrangell-St. Elias from a distance but haven’t actually set foot in it, and we have been to Denali National Park without actually glimpsing the peak. We have seen the tallest mountain in North America, however, from a plane in glorious sunshine. Does that count? The other 5 Alaska Parks–Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic, Lake Clark, Katmai, and Kenai Fjords–have not been experienced by us and probably will remain unvisited. But I just read a book by a man, David Roberts, whose mountain climbing adventures occurred on Mount McKinley (Denali) and in the Brooks Range, which is partially in the Kobuk Valley. Does that count? I suppose not. Kobuk Valley has no roads into it, and remains one of the least visited national parks. That’s my excuse.
Except for American Samoa, we have the potential to see the other 7 if we’re ever able to travel again. The Virgin Islands and the Channel Islands, however, remain remote possibilities. We have our best shots at Cuyahoga Valley, Isle Royale, Hot Springs, and the 2 in Florida–Biscayne and the Dry Tortugas. Biscayne is often described as a “Watery Wonderland”, is said to be 90% saltwater, and is probably better suited for divers; so I must do some research before committing, The Dry Tortugas are very, very remote. I know only one person who has been to this national park.
Ruth & I have been to the town of Hot Springs but not to the National Park, and we visited the Indiana Dunes, the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, and White Sands with children before they became National Parks. Ruth’s favorite National Park is Bryce Canyon and mine is North Cascades for its stunning diversity. In the past few years we have been to Mount Rainier, Grand Teton, Death Valley, Big Bend, and Congaree. Congaree is small and highly recommended.
The photos that accompany this essay are all National Monuments–Canyon de Chelly, John Day Fossil Beds, and Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks. After the virus recedes, we will head for Cuyahoga Valley for sure. That’s my final comment about national parks until we actually go there.