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pinecrest
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Post by pinecrest » Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:53 pm

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Louis Winthorpe III
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Louis Winthorpe III » Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:58 pm

I haven't been to many, but we visited Zion, Bryce and the north rim of the Grand Canyon on one trip a couple of years ago and loved it. Zion was my favorite. I've also been to Denali, Yosemite and Crater Lake. Our national parks are such a treasure. Just so spectacular.

On our trip to Yosemite, we did the climb up Half Dome. Quite an adventure.

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mhc
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by mhc » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:05 am

Yellowstone NP
Rocky Mountain NP
Arches NP
Glacier NP
Chaco NHP
Carlsbad Caverns NP

My picture is from Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP.

Random Poster
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Random Poster » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:24 pm

I enjoy those National Parks/Historic Sites that are off the beaten path or that aren't particularly well known or visited.

It could just be me, but I find it hard to enjoy nature when I'm surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of camera-clicking tourists and busloads of tour groups. Suffice it say I'm not a fan of Zion, Yosemite, Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon in the summer. In the off-season, it is different, of course.

But Glacier (in September or early October), Big Bend, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, White Sands (in the winter), and Bryce Canyon are all pretty nice. And don't discount some of the more educational NHS, like Whitman Mission, Scottsbluff, or John Day Fossil Beds.

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by The Wizard » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:34 pm

I've been to way too many National Parks and Monuments to start picking favorites.
My trip last summer hit Carlsbad Caverns, Mammoth Cave and Capulin Volcanic (NM), each for the 2nd or 3rd time.
This year, I'm thinking of Pinnacles (CA) and Ozark National Scenic Riverways (MO), among others...
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by chaz » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:01 pm

Grand Canyon is nice to visit.
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by JMacDonald » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:09 pm

All of the National Parks that I have visited ( almost all of the parks in the West ) are worth seeing. One of the lesser known parks is Lassen: http://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm
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TimeRunner
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by TimeRunner » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:20 pm

It's like asking to pick your favorite child. They are all worthy in their own ways.
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by stan1 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:21 pm

I have never been to a National Park that I didn't enjoy -- although like others I try to avoid times when popular parks are very busy.

If you haven't been to Moab, UT I'd definitely recommend Arches and Canyonlands National Parks which seem to get fewer visitors than Bryce/Zion as they are further away from Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

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nirvines88
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by nirvines88 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:35 pm

pinecrest wrote: * Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Any recommendations on what to do in Denali National Park and Preserve? May get a chance to go this summer (mid-July).
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sock puppet
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by sock puppet » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:41 pm

Isle Royale N.P. is pretty amazing (partly because it's hard to get to).

The various battlefields are great for history, and Yosemite N.P. has spectacular scenery. Yellowstone has so much to do, you can spend weeks exploring, especially if you leave your car.

I also like Craters of the Moon N.M.

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by SmallSaver » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:01 pm

Sequoia / King's Canyon. Bigger mountains than Yosemite, huge Sequoia Groves, 1/3 the people. There's a nice lodge or two in there as well.

Zion is pretty neat too.

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dm200
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by dm200 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:02 pm

pinecrest wrote:Include National Historic Parks and other sites managed by the NPS.

These are mine..in no particular order, except for Yosemite!

* Yosemite and the High Sierra camps (Tuolumne Meadows, Glen Aulin, Vogelsang, etc.)
* Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
* Death Valley
* Civil War battlefields in Virginia
* Historic Jamestown
* Virgin Islands National Park (Trunk Bay, St. John)

I could include many others, but I'll stop here...

What are your favorites? Remember, springtime is often a good time to visit these sites, so might as well start planning.
My vote is for Yosemite - I have been there several times, and I find it one of the most beautiful, inspiring, enjoyable places I have ever been. When our son was young, perhaps 8 or 9, we stayed in the "camp" place (concrete type enclosures) for 4 or 5 days, and I have also stayed in the tent cabins. The big trees (Sequoias) are located in part of Yosemite - so seeing those can be a part of a trip to Yosemite -- although the ones at Sequoia and Kings Canyon are better.

I have visited Historic Jamestown -

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by gkaplan » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:18 pm

Crater Lake
Gordon

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by btenny » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:19 pm

For redwoods I suggest visiting some of the California State Parks. Ones like Jedediah Smith below and then go to the beach and small town of Crescent City for some great beaches and views...

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by mesaverde » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:26 pm

My favorite experience is a long backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon in the wintertime, which I've done twice. It's the low season, so there are very few people... you feel like you almost have the canyon to yourself! It's also warmer in the canyon than many other places. On the rims, there's usually snow, which adds yet another color to the already beautiful canyon.

Last summer I went to Denali in late June/early July for an extended backpacking trip. It was amazing, but the mosquitoes were absolutely BRUTAL. It's better to go in the late summer when the mosquito population dies down. When people talk about how amazing Alaska can be, they tend to forget about mentioning the mosquitoes!
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dixdak
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by dixdak » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:47 pm

Badlands of South Dakota
Glacier
Zion

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Rob5TCP » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:01 pm

Favorite:
Yosemite: Mountains, Lakes, SEQUOIA trees, (-crowded), Wildlife
Banff (in Canada): mountains, lakes, plentiful wildlife,

Close to Favorites:
Yellowstone: wildlife, hot springs, geysers, mountains
Redwood National Park: obviously redwoods
Olympic National Park: rainforest, massive greenery, mountains
Grand Canyon: incredible scenery,

Next Level: Grand Tetons: mountains, Arcadia: beaches, lakes,

Unknown:
Zion - due to closure, I had 3 hours instead of 3 days; from what we saw it would be near the top of the list

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:04 pm

I'm an avid hiker/backpacker and NPS site visitor, and I agree it's hard to pick just a few favorites.

Close to my heart:

Glacier - because of all the trips I've done with my family; for quarter-sized mosquito bites on the Belly River trail; for galloping grizzlies 100 feet below me; for evenings spent in front of the massive fire at Lake McDonald Lodge; for my wife's first 'real' backpacking trip; for nights buried under 10 blankets in ice-cold Sperry Chalet; for not one but two trips where Going to the Sun Road closed for the season while we were in the backcountry, necessitating a turnaround rather than a through hike - both in snow, soaking rain, blizzard conditions - but fun; for my only case of hypothermia, at Lake Ellen Wilson, after a day we tried to get cell phone service at the top of the Continental Divide, in a blizzard - again.

Mt. Rainier - for its 2 hour proximity to my house; for the wonder of seeing a three mile tall mountain painted into the sky like an illusion; for the glory of the Wonderland trail, 93 miles round and round the mountain, up and down the lava flows and glaciers and deep old growth forest; for the photo of my 2 year old daughter making the cutest face in front of a 1000 year old redcedar; for the climbs to Camp Muir and the glissading down with various friends and family over the years; for the beautiful little Chinook Pass/Dewey Lakes hike, a greater concentration of views and flowers and lakes you will never find; for the 8 foot deep snow in the parking lot on July 4; for my 40th birthday party, when I hosted extended family and friends for a weekend at the lodge and introduced them to my own 'backyard.'

Yosemite - for the miraculous valley; the rustic elegance of the High Sierra Camps and a great meal in the backcountry; for repeated trips over Donohue Pass, bathing in the icemelt of Lyell Glacier, en route to Thousand Island Lakes, a photo of which we gave my parents for their 30th wedding anniversary, and which was the site of my first ever mountain backpack, in which we were hit by the 'storm of the century' and trapped in our tents on the side of a mountain for 36 hours; for the assertive and clever bears with all their funny personality quirks (sitting on a rock, playing with my bear can like it was a Rubik's cube); and not least for the rescue we suffered after getting 'lost' for three days in the snow, when the Rangers and YOSAR finally spotted us by helicopter, waving my wife's colorful unmentionables in the air on a tent pole (I never lived that one down).

Grand Canyon - because it's ridiculous, insanely big and beautiful; for the yearly trips hiking to Phantom Ranch at the bottom which my parents just gave up in the last few years but are planning to do again next year, when my dad turns 80; because it was the destination of one of my first road trips, when I was about 8 years old, from Michigan with my cousin in a rented RV that constantly broke down and barely made it over the Colorado mountain passes; because if you get off the rim and off Bright Angel and the South Kaibab trails you might not meet another hiker for hours at a time, which is kind of insane if you think about amazing the place is.

North Cascades - for its (only) 20,000 visitors per year (compared to 5,000,000 for the Grand Canyon, 3,000,000 for Glacier, etc) despite being a 3 hour drive from Seattle; because it's a hiker's park first and beyond anything else; because you cannot drive to the park anywhere (you must hike or take a boat); because you can through hike for days in one direction and still be in the park; because my kids love it there and it's becoming one of our annual trips.

I get to NOCA every year, sometimes twice, and Rainier several times each year. The others have been a while but now that my kids are getting older, we will start doing road trips soon.

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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:19 pm

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ljmcin
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by ljmcin » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:20 pm

We have been to most of them and agree that they all have a lot to offer. On a trip to the Utah parks the year before last we were very impressed by Capitol Reef, a park that you don't hear much about.

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by mickeyd » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:20 pm

Big Bend NP is #1 with me.
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pinecrest
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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:37 pm

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DonCamillo
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by DonCamillo » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:37 pm

** Burr Trail ** (See below)

In the summer of 2012 we toured the US by car, 9,700 miles, 26 states and collected 55 National Park passport stamps (a few were state parks that also had a stamp pad.)

Park activities vary a lot with age. For us, in our late sixties, hiking, driving through scenery and taking pictures were the favorite activities.

Favorite drive was Burr Trail in the Capital Reef National Park. This was off the beaten path and very special, while almost everything else was crowded. Start at Boulder, Utah on Highway 12.

Favorite historical site was Mesa Verde National Park. Also liked Vicksburg, especially the USS Cairo civil war gunboat.

Favorite hikes were underground in Carlsbad Caverns, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and down inside Bryce Canyon.

Favorite eating was fruit pies at Fruita in Capital Reef National Park

Best photography was Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Cedar Breaks and Arches National Parks

Best wildlife was in Rocky Mountain and Badlands National Parks
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pinecrest
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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:47 pm

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pinecrest
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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:57 pm

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soaring
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by soaring » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:01 pm

Bryce was truly unique IMO.
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TxAg
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by TxAg » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:05 pm

Big Bend is phenomenal.....a long trip for most folks, though

Rocky Mountain and Glacier are very nice also.

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cfs
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by cfs » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:10 pm

Leaders, good morning/afternoon/evening

Thanks for asking, and keep the good questions coming. In reference to national parks, here are a few I have visited:

Creaters of the Moon - ID
El Yunque - PR
Grand Canyon - UT
Sequoia - CA
Yosemite - CA
Zion - UT

The giant Sequoias are great to see, but Zion is number one on my list, and is located approx 40 minutes from my UT home.

Thanks for reading.
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pinecrest
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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:24 pm

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happyisland
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by happyisland » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:49 pm

I'm enjoying the heck out of this thread, but I can't help but notice that most favorites are out west. Does anyone have any east-of-the-Mississippi picks? For example, what are the forum's favorite NPs in New England?

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cfs
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by cfs » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:57 pm

pinecrest wrote:I notice no one has mentioned Petrified National Forest, AZ. That was one place we had tried to go in the spring during a driving trip, but got caught in a blizzard in Flagstaff. Yes, a blizard in the SPRING. But because of that, we missed the Painted Desert and the Meteor Crater. I'm feeling better already since no on has mentioned them. :D
Okay, let me mention both and then some. Petrified National Forest, AZ and Meteor Crater, AZ are two great places to visit,. Don't stop there, go check the Sunset Crater Volcano, AZ.

Thanks for reading.
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Rob5TCP
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Rob5TCP » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:59 pm

happyisland wrote:I'm enjoying the heck out of this thread, but I can't help but notice that most favorites are out west. Does anyone have any east-of-the-Mississippi picks? For example, what are the forum's favorite NPs in New England?
Arcadia in Maine, is on my list.
Not as grand as Yosemite, Banff, or Yellowstone
but beautiful in it's own right. If you LOVE lobster
add at least a star.

While the Everglades, in Florida, was fascinating, it's not a place
unless bird watching is your thing.

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by The Wizard » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:01 pm

happyisland wrote:I'm enjoying the heck out of this thread, but I can't help but notice that most favorites are out west. Does anyone have any east-of-the-Mississippi picks? For example, what are the forum's favorite NPs in New England?
Since New England has ONE full-fledged National Park, it would have to be Acadia, in Maine.
There are other NPS facilities around, but they're small: the Boston harbor islands and something around Boston Common.
Also a portion of Cape Cod seashore...
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pinecrest
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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:14 pm

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VictoriaF
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:23 pm

Shawangunk Mountains, or The Gunks, in NY State.

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r60rider
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by r60rider » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:30 pm

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore / Grand Sable Dunes on the shore of beautiful lake Superior

Colorado13
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Colorado13 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:32 pm

gkaplan wrote:Crater Lake
We're planning our first trip there for either Aug or Sept. Do you have any tips to share or would that be too far off topic for this thread? Thanks.

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chuck-b
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by chuck-b » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:59 pm

Some of my favorites:

Arches
Canyonlands
Glacier
Yosemite
Acadia
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metacritic
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by metacritic » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:11 pm

My favorite, and I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned, is Volcano National Park.

After that:

Zion
Virgin Islands
Rocky Mountain
Point Reyes
Bryce

I suspect a trip to Alaska would demote everything, even Volcanoes.

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steve roy
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by steve roy » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:42 pm

Hiking the Sierras and climbing Mount Whitney were some of the great pleasures of my youth.

dickenjb
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by dickenjb » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:04 pm

Grand Canyon NP
Yosemite NP
Yellowstone NP
Petrified Forest NP
Volcanoes NP
Haleakala NP (going there next week!)
Great Smoky Mountains NP (gets more visitors each year than Grand Canyon and Yosemite COMBINED)
Big Bend is pretty amazing - mountains and desert and canyons and off the beaten track so not a lot of visitors
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letsgobobby
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:05 pm

Colorado13 wrote:
gkaplan wrote:Crater Lake
We're planning our first trip there for either Aug or Sept. Do you have any tips to share or would that be too far off topic for this thread? Thanks.
I'm not Gordon, but:

You don't need more than 2-3 days to see everything. After Labor Day it will be very quiet and empty. We had an entire campground to ourselves the day after Labor Day.

It's cold at night, since it's around 7000 feet. But it's a dry cold, great for a campfire if you have warm clothes. The air is very clear, and the stars are amazing.

There are no towns in the immediate vicinity, so come well equipped, but there is a decent-looking casual restaurant and a nice lodge (we were too cheap for either, so don't ask me how the food was).

The campgrounds have showers, extremely rare for a National Park. Very nice.

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Post by pinecrest » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:35 pm

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RustyShackleford
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by RustyShackleford » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:50 am

letsgobobby wrote: Grand Canyon ... if you get off the rim and off Bright Angel and the South Kaibab trails you might not meet another hiker for hours at a time...
Or ... days at a time.

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fizxman
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by fizxman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:00 am

Since I haven't been to too many I'll just list all the ones I've been to. FYI, they were all nice but I think my favorite was Mount Rainier.

Bryce Canyon
Grand Canyon
Great Smoky Mountains
Hawaii Volcanoes
Hot Springs
Joshua Tree (was there last Wednesday!)
Mount Rainier
Shenandoah
Zion

Colorado13
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Colorado13 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:28 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Colorado13 wrote:
gkaplan wrote:Crater Lake
We're planning our first trip there for either Aug or Sept. Do you have any tips to share or would that be too far off topic for this thread? Thanks.
I'm not Gordon, but:

You don't need more than 2-3 days to see everything. After Labor Day it will be very quiet and empty. We had an entire campground to ourselves the day after Labor Day.
Thank you very much! I appreciate you sharing this information.

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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by The Wizard » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:43 am

pinecrest wrote:
steve roy wrote:Hiking the Sierras and climbing Mount Whitney were some of the great pleasures of my youth.
I have the unique experience of having climbed Mount Whitney as a lark.

I was travelling from either northern to southern California or vice-versa...I don't remember which, and passed through Lone Pine en route. While driving, I saw a parking lot and a trail access head and got out of the car to stretch my legs and go up the trail for just a bit. I saw no signage and so didn't realize this was Mt. Whitney. It was an easy hike in my tennis shoes (no water, since again this wasn't planned), and I just kept going and going until I reached snow level and the path became too unnavigatable in tennis shoes. I had no idea this was Whitney since it was so easy and I actually had to slyly find out from another hiker that this was indeed the Whitney trail. I estimate I climbed about 3/4 up the mountain before I had to turn back because of the snow. I've since heard people have climbed the mountain barefoot and with a guitar, so I guess my feat isn't so great. :D
That hike from Whitney Portal is a 7000 foot vertical, so most hikers will find it to be a long day hike. I did it in 1994 while working in the Sacramento area, so was not acclimated to higher altitudes. Every step above 13,000 feet was a challenge, as I recall. But there were a lot of folks up there that day in September, so I stayed the course.
I believe there are daily limits on that trail at this point, so can no longer be that spontaneous.
And while Mt. Whitney and vicinity are interesting, note that it is administered by the National Forest Service (Dept of Agriculture), not the National Park Service (Dept of Interior)...
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Random Musings
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Random Musings » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:18 pm

These are my favorites (the top two are really the top two)

Yellowstone/Grand Teton
Glacier
Bryce
Zion (the first time I wasn't that impressed for some reason, but the 2nd time was the charm)
Canyonlands
Mesa Verde
Acadia
Redwood
Crater Lake
Badlands
Grand Canyon
Hawaii Volcanos & Haleakala
Great Smoky Mountains
Carlsbad Caverns

Next two I'll hit with the family over the next year or so will be Congaree (do the night owl walk and the boat ride with ranger) and the Everglades. Denali (down the road a ways) will be my retirement gift to myself. Another one on my bucket list is Voyagers.

RM
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Re: Favorite National Parks

Post by Sconie » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:38 pm

If you're a hiker and enjoy seclusion and a lack of crowds, I'd suggest either (or both) Cascades and Isle Royale National Parks.
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