Five Best National Parks to Visit?

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alpenglow
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by alpenglow » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:02 pm

nimo956 wrote:Thanks for all the recommendations! I want to see everything eventually, but am leaning towards Yosemite for my first trip. That seems like it'd be the easiest to get to, since I can fly direct to San Francisco and just drive from there.
Sounds like a plan! My wife and I did San Francisco, Yosemite, and some wine country stops for our honeymoon. It made a nice mix.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:49 pm

Why not pick the 5 greatest parks unlikely to be listed in this thread:

Canyon de Chelly - Technically a monument but FREE and spectacular Anasazi ruins. Zero crowds.
Joshua Tree- There's a reason U2 named an album after it.
Rocky Mountain- Like the Tetons without the crowds
Kenai Fjords and Glacier Bay- Perhaps the prettiest National Parks
Wrangell St. Elias- Like Denali without the tourists

Why everyone keeps going to the same 5 or 10 National Parks is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, I love Denali, the Tetons, Yosemite and Zion as much as the next guy, but given the usual tourist's experience there (riding a bus) it's beyond me why tourists prefer those to the others. The bus ride in Denali is nowhere near as good as the boat ride in Kenai Fjords for example.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by t3chiman » Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:38 pm

nimo956 wrote:... I'm looking to start a tradition of visiting some of the beautiful national parks in the US/Canada out west.
By coincidence, I have the exact plan. And in retirement, I not only have the time, but a nice cheap lifetime pass for all US National Parks. Pick one up if you can.
As for recommendations, all I can do is summarize my reaction as a Midwest flatlander: the alpine lakes of the Western US and Canada are stunningly beautiful. Crater Lake, Lake Louise, Lake Tahoe, St Mary Lake (Glacier NP)...incomparable. You can take pictures, but to no avail; you can only approximate the visual impact. By all means see the Big 5. Then plan an alpine lake tour.

To echo some other comments on this thread, some of the less famous parks are nowhere near as crowded, particularly off-season. I visited Craters of the Moon last November; about 7 other people were there. [A bit too cool, October would have been better. But the snow cover on the black cinders was spectacular.] My wife found an unusual park "nearby" (relatively, out West that means 100 miles): City of Rocks. A huge place, it was empty the day we visited--I mean empty, we were the only people within miles. Actually, in Southern Idaho, you can just drive around and gape at the scenery, official national park or no. We drove the Lemhi Pass over the Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway. Saw a couple of hunters, that's it.

Another favorite: Capitol Reefs. Overpowering.

Nobody mentioned White Sands. Spooky hot in Summer, but a nonthreatening gentle stroll in the Winter. Still plenty bright, and dry.

HTH

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William4u
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by William4u » Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:43 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
Canyon de Chelly - Technically a monument but FREE and spectacular Anasazi ruins. Zero crowds.
+1 on Canyon de Chelly. Wonderful place to visit and no crowds at all. One of our favs.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Canyon+ ... +de+Chelly

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:03 pm

t3chiman wrote: My wife found an unusual park "nearby" (relatively, out West that means 100 miles): City of Rocks. A huge place, it was empty the day we visited--I mean empty, we were the only people within miles. Actually, in Southern Idaho, you can just drive around and gape at the scenery, official national park or no. We drove the Lemhi Pass over the Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway. Saw a couple of hunters, that's it.
Sssshhhh.....I've never been there when it wasn't packed. It's a well-known rock climbing destination.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Downtown » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:56 pm

It's hard to only list five, but here are my favorites. Enjoy!

Yosemite
Glacier
Big Bend
Grand Teton
Sequoia

Downtown

P.S. If you're interested in Canadian travel, Banff & Jasper National Parks are also exceptional.
Last edited by Downtown on Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by dm200 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:58 pm

nimo956 wrote:Thanks for all the recommendations! I want to see everything eventually, but am leaning towards Yosemite for my first trip. That seems like it'd be the easiest to get to, since I can fly direct to San Francisco and just drive from there.
Yes - that is what we did a number of years ago.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:17 pm

Downtown wrote:P.S. If you're interested in Canadian travel, Banff & Jasper National Parks are also exceptional.
Every year, they bring to Washington, D.C., a selection of films from the Banff Film Festival. I attend the screenings whenever I can. One day, I'd like to come to Banff to attend the festival itself.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by westcoastinvestor » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:26 pm

Yellowstone
Yosemite
Chaco Canyon
Zion
Death Valley

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by RTG16 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:43 pm

Not in any particular order...

1. Yosemite NP/Northern CA coast/Redwood NP
2. Glacier/Banff NP
3. All the Utah NP (ok, i know, that's 5 right there....)
4. Hawaii Volcanoes NP

1. Yosemite is wonderful, but make sure you hit it at a time of year to include exploring the Toulemne Meadows section above the valley. Due to higher elevation it typically opens later in the year - gorgeous meadows/wildflower, rivers, lakes and hikes. Not as frenetic as the valley in high season. Since you're thinking of flying to SF, and depending on how much time you have, you might want to explore the Northern CA coast and Redwoods NP as well.

2.Glacier and Banff - loved both, but the abundant wildlife & wildflowers at Glacier were fantastic when we visited. We did stay at a nice cabin for part of the Banff trip.

3. Utah NP (plus the Grand Canyon) - last summer's trip - the word of the day, EVERY DAY, was WOW!!! We took two weeks starting at the Grand Canyon (South) and then hit the Needles section of Canyonlands, Arches, Capital Reef, Bryce & Zion. All were amazing and so different from each other. I'll second the prior comments on Capital Reef NP - an amazing place, out of this world geology - only drag is you can't get camping reservations there, it's 1st come, first served. Well worth it if you can fit it in and find accommodations not too far away. As a bonus, the drive from the Grand Canyon to Canyonlands took us through Monument Valley. We would go to any of these again (& in fact, are hitting a few of the Utah NP again this summer, after a visit to family in CO.) We're going to be checking out Great Basin NP in NV on that trip as well. FYI, the book 50 Best Short HIkes Utah's National Parks by Gregg Witt was a big help in planning last year's trip.

Hope you have a great trip - do make reservations well in advance for any of these. Even for some of the hikes - we missed out on a "guide-only" led hike in Arches because I didn't catch that access in that area was limited and required advance reservations. Haven't been to Yosemite in a few years, but I think I heard that access to the Half Dome hike was now limited in number as well.

R

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Ninnie » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:09 pm

nimo956 wrote:Thanks for all the recommendations! I want to see everything eventually, but am leaning towards Yosemite for my first trip. That seems like it'd be the easiest to get to, since I can fly direct to San Francisco and just drive from there.
In what month are you planning to travel? Yosemite, especially the valley, is suffering from the impact of far too many tourists. The last time we went for a short visit was in August, it was seriously overcrowded, and we enjoyed it far less than we had at other less "peak" times.

And yes, we're familiar with Acadia in August too. As crowded as that also gets, Yosemite just "felt" worse, primarily in the more popular locations inside the park.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:43 pm

RTG16 wrote: I'll second the prior comments on Capital Reef NP - an amazing place, out of this world geology - only drag is you can't get camping reservations there, it's 1st come, first served. Well worth it if you can fit it in and find accommodations not too far away.
If they make every camping spot like Yosemite where will I go camping on a whim? Sometimes it isn't very fun to plan everything 6+ months in advance and wait in front of your computer screen at the designated moment to try to get a spot only to find the entire Valley's camping spots for a month filled up in less than 5 minutes.

I'm all for first come, first served sometimes.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by jlawrence01 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:13 pm

If you read through the posts, most people say that you should visit the parks during the "off-season" as the crowds are a lot smaller. While that has always been our approach, there are certain drawbacks.

I finally made it to Yosemite NP through Tioga Pass for the first time ... in five tries. Being from the Midwest, I have booked trips to Reno or Lake Tahoe with the hopes of having a great day in either May or October. In my first three efforts, I missed the closing of Tioga Pass by a couple of days. This year, I finally made it over the pass in early May. The day after we left the park, the pass was closed again due to a late season snow storm.

When you head to the National Parks during the off-season, you encounter a lot of things that make your visit less optimal. For example, ever try navigating Lassen NP with absolutely NO SIGNS? They take them down in early October? Or arrive at a park the week after Labor Day to find that all ranger programs ended ... last week? Or arriving at Golden Spike NHS in early April and being told by a park ranger (in training), "I think that the park) has something to do with the railroads."

My top five are:

Devils Tower NM
Vicksburg National Battlefield
Canyonlands NP
Ruby Meadows (NV)
Yosemite NP

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by jlawrence01 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:14 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
RTG16 wrote: I'll second the prior comments on Capital Reef NP - an amazing place, out of this world geology - only drag is you can't get camping reservations there, it's 1st come, first served. Well worth it if you can fit it in and find accommodations not too far away.
If they make every camping spot like Yosemite where will I go camping on a whim? Sometimes it isn't very fun to plan everything 6+ months in advance and wait in front of your computer screen at the designated moment to try to get a spot only to find the entire Valley's camping spots for a month filled up in less than 5 minutes.

I'm all for first come, first served sometimes.

You have to wonder whether a lot of the computer jockeys who grab the camping spots actually show up for their reservations??

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by happyhiker » Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:19 pm

Just about the most fun I have ever had was hiking the Narrows in Zion NP. Rent the gear in town (Springdale, UT) start early, and check weather reports to make sure there is no danger of a flash flood. Most of the hike takes place in the river so it is completely unlike a hike on land, also the sheer canyon walls rising up on both sides of the river are gorgeous.

My other favorite NP is Grand Canyon, but it's more fun if you go below the rim. DH and I did a dory trip a few years ago and a hiking trip with two nights at Phantom Ranch last year. Both trips were guided, which I'd recommend - the guides really knew their stuff and helped us feel secure in the Canyon.

Off the beaten path is Great Basin NP near Baker, NV. In addition to ancient bristlecone pines and interesting caves, they had stargazing after dark with powerful telescopes, entertaining lecturers and of course, no crowds.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by dolphintraveler » Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:01 pm

Depending on how long your trip is in SF/Yosemite, there are other things nearby. In SF, there is Alcatraz Island (a former prison on the rock) that is it's own experience. Fort Point, just under the Golden Gate on the SF side is a National Historic Site. The Presidio is there too.

Sequoia (and Kings Canyon) NP is ~4 hours south of Yosemite. If that's too far you could try Muir Woods just across the Golden Gate Bridge from SF. [It's been too long for me to judge Muir Woods, but love Sequoia.]

Why limit to 5?
* Yosemite
* Yellowstone
* Sequoia
* Arches
* Bryce
* Grand Canyon
* Capitol Reef
* Death Valley
* Joshua Tree
* Zion
* Hawaii Volcanoes
* Big Sur (I'm not sure I saw this one mentioned yet)

Hope to go to many more...

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:58 pm

happyhiker wrote:Just about the most fun I have ever had was hiking the Narrows in Zion NP. Rent the gear in town (Springdale, UT) start early, and check weather reports to make sure there is no danger of a flash flood. Most of the hike takes place in the river so it is completely unlike a hike on land, also the sheer canyon walls rising up on both sides of the river are gorgeous.

My other favorite NP is Grand Canyon, but it's more fun if you go below the rim. DH and I did a dory trip a few years ago and a hiking trip with two nights at Phantom Ranch last year. Both trips were guided, which I'd recommend - the guides really knew their stuff and helped us feel secure in the Canyon.

Off the beaten path is Great Basin NP near Baker, NV. In addition to ancient bristlecone pines and interesting caves, they had stargazing after dark with powerful telescopes, entertaining lecturers and of course, no crowds.
welcome to the forum!

We love Phantom and for about 10 years my parents made it an annual trip. A backpack along the Tonto Rim, then 2 nights at Phantom; or a one day hike to Phantom, 2 nights, then hike back up. Reservations now are just about impossible. Phone lines busy the minute they open and generally all spots filled for the month within 2 hours, 1 year in advance. no fun. There are some last minute cancellations, but you can't show up at the South Rim without plans because you could well find yourself locked out of any reservation at all. It's not a good place for spontaneity.

We also enjoyed Great Basin and agree it's an overlooked gem. One of the draws is the nearby town of Ely, NV, which has a real old western casino and hotel which is in pretty good condition. Very atmospheric. Great Basin isn't huge but the crowds are small and the scenery is beautiful.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:18 pm

I've only been to Great Basin once to climb Wheeler Peak. It's a National Park for a reason but I doubt it'll ever make anyone's top 5 list.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by nimo956 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:18 am

jlawrence01 wrote:If you read through the posts, most people say that you should visit the parks during the "off-season" as the crowds are a lot smaller. While that has always been our approach, there are certain drawbacks.

I finally made it to Yosemite NP through Tioga Pass for the first time ... in five tries. Being from the Midwest, I have booked trips to Reno or Lake Tahoe with the hopes of having a great day in either May or October. In my first three efforts, I missed the closing of Tioga Pass by a couple of days. This year, I finally made it over the pass in early May. The day after we left the park, the pass was closed again due to a late season snow storm.

When you head to the National Parks during the off-season, you encounter a lot of things that make your visit less optimal. For example, ever try navigating Lassen NP with absolutely NO SIGNS? They take them down in early October? Or arrive at a park the week after Labor Day to find that all ranger programs ended ... last week? Or arriving at Golden Spike NHS in early April and being told by a park ranger (in training), "I think that the park) has something to do with the railroads."

My top five are:

Devils Tower NM
Vicksburg National Battlefield
Canyonlands NP
Ruby Meadows (NV)
Yosemite NP
I understand what you're saying about visiting in the off-season. I went to Acadia a little before peak season started, and while there were virtually no crowds, the weather was still pretty cold and rainy. There's often a reason everyone goes during certain times of the year!
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:21 pm

Absolutely. Shoulder seasons are less crowded but you definitely take your chances with weather, facilities, and staffing.

But some hot places are actually better in shoulder seasons, like in the southwest. So as usual a lot depends on the specifics of where you want to go.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by criticalmass » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:10 pm

My recommendations are:

GREAT BASIN
YELLOWSTONE
ZION
DENALI
ARCHES

Backup 5:
MESA VERDE
HALEKALA
GRAND CANYON
CANYONLANDS
YOSEMITE

Honorable Mention:
Bryce Canyon
Death Valley
Joshua Tree
Rocky Mountain
Capitol Reef

Note that you can do Zion and Bryce easily on the same trip, and the drive between them is beautiful too. Grand Staircase Nat'l Monument and Grand Canyon aren't far way. Great Basin is a bit further west, but a spectacular road trip to get there. The park has the oldest living things on the planet, plus beautiful glaciers and incredible caves.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by criticalmass » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:14 pm

White Coat Investor wrote: Why everyone keeps going to the same 5 or 10 National Parks is beyond me.
The OP hasn't been to any National Parks in the western states, and only Acadia in the eastern states, hence the recommendations.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:23 pm

Hey WCI, Great Basin just made someone's top five list!

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by vinnydabody » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:23 pm

I'm amazed there's no mention of the Everglades so far. The sheer variety of wildlife and habitats are incredible.

And while you're in the neighborhood, take advantage of the most remote NP: Dry Tortugas, accessible only by boat (either private or ferry from Key West) or float plane. It's a full day trip, with great snorkeling available along the reefs surrounding Fort Jefferson, along with the moat walls of the fort (with snorkeling gear provided free of charge if you don't have your own). If you take the ferry, you get fed breakfast and lunch.

We didn't do it on our trip out there, but you can camp overnight (up to three or four nights I think). You have to bring all your own food, equipment, and supplies, but once all the day visitors leave, you have the entire place to yourself and it's absolutely pitch black. The rangers live there and sometimes lead unofficial night tours along the moat wall.

edit: I see now the OP was looking for out west locations.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by JoeM 2018 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:14 pm

I've been to a few of them, ALL were good in there own way. I'm from Northern Michigan, so I like to see places that are unlike anything I can find here, even though Northern Michigan is beautiful with the Great Lakes, inland lakes, and vast forests. But my favorite NP's:

1) Zion NP: the hike up Angels Landing is really cool, and the hike in the Narrows is great on a hot day !
2) Yosemite: the hike up Half Dome is awesome, I did it in 2013 and will remember it the rest of my life.
3) Grand Tetons/Yellowstone: backpacked for 3 days in the Tetons, and did a car/day hike tour of Yellowstone. Awesome places.
4) Olympic: did a backpack trip there, got rained on constantly, and was never so glad to get off the trail and back to the car. But pretty much
the minute we were done hiking, it was blue sky and sunshine the rest of the way, and it was so beautiful. There is a beach/coastal
section of the park that is really cool, and the interior is also awesome,I'm told, just not when I did it !
5) Grand Canyon: it is well worth seeing, didn't get to do any hiking, but just viewing it is worth the trip. Stunning scenery.

Also loved Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Redwoods, Crater Lake. All are worth seeing.

I want to do North Cascades, Olympic when it's good weather, Shenandoah, Isle Royale, ........... need to get retired !

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by MattE » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:03 pm

I spent a week backpacking in Glacier late last August and thought it was the most breathtaking place I've ever been even with the haze from the historic fire season the northwest had last year, which is saying something because I've backpacked and snowboarded some pretty awesome places.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:06 pm

As a former Alaskan I'm partial to the Alaskan parks which far exceed anything in the lower 48 and have barely gotten a mention here.

Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska is absolutely spectacular and one of the best places on the planet for both marine and land wildlife. Most people typically see Glacier Bay from the deck of a giant cruise ship. Much preferable to take small boat tours from Gustavus Alaska. When I lived in Juneau I had a cabin cruiser and we would take weekend trips into Glacier Bay and just explore.

Wrangell - St. Elias National Park is an enormous park that has thousands of square miles of wilderness and is bigger than Vermont and New Hampshire combined. You really got to get off the highway into the wilderness to experience this park. Mt. St. Elias is over 18,000 ft which makes it the 2nd highest mountain in the US and a more challenging climb than Denali. It actually looks larger because it starts from lower elevation from base to peak than Denali. Wrangell - St. Elias borders Klaune National Park in Canada so the 2 parks jointly operate as one large wilderness area. On the Canadian side is Mt. Logan which is even larger and more impressive.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Pam01 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:15 pm

VictoriaF wrote:This summer, I will be traveling around the Western U.S. with some friends from Europe. They have created an optimal program to see as much as possible in two weeks. Among National Parks (NP) we will be visiting:
- NP Joshua Tree
- NP Death Valley - Badwater
- Grand Canyon - South Rim
- Monument Valley
- Antelope Canyon
- Grand Canyon - North Rim
- NP Zion
- NP Bryce Canyon
- NP Arches
- NP Canyonlands
- NP Grand Teton
- NP Yellow Stone
- NP Yosemite
- NP Sequoia

Knowing my friends, I have confidence that they have picked up (some of) the best parks to visit.

Victoria
Capitol Reef is in between Bryce and Arches and is well worth the visit. It is the home of the Waterpocket Fold, a 100 mile long warp in earth's crust.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:23 pm

vinnydabody wrote:I'm amazed there's no mention of the Everglades so far. The sheer variety of wildlife and habitats are incredible.

And while you're in the neighborhood, take advantage of the most remote NP: Dry Tortugas, accessible only by boat (either private or ferry from Key West) or float plane. It's a full day trip, with great snorkeling available along the reefs surrounding Fort Jefferson, along with the moat walls of the fort (with snorkeling gear provided free of charge if you don't have your own). If you take the ferry, you get fed breakfast and lunch.

We didn't do it on our trip out there, but you can camp overnight (up to three or four nights I think). You have to bring all your own food, equipment, and supplies, but once all the day visitors leave, you have the entire place to yourself and it's absolutely pitch black. The rangers live there and sometimes lead unofficial night tours along the moat wall.

edit: I see now the OP was looking for out west locations.
That sounds awesome!
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:26 pm

Pam01 wrote:It is the home of the Waterpocket Fold, a 100 mile long warp in earth's crust.
And home of some of the world's most spectacular and scary slot canyons. Don't tell all the folks standing in line on the stairs in Antelope Canyon though. This picture, for instance, is looking downcanyon across The Pit of Despair.

http://canyoncollective.com/uploads/ima ... espair.jpg
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by autolycus » Mon Apr 04, 2016 6:10 pm

A great road trip is always Skyline Drive in Shenandoah down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Boone and Asheville are great stopover towns with plenty of hiking and scenic driving nearby. In spite of being the most-visited of all the national parks, there are still some areas of GSMNP that are not nearly as crowded, even during peak fall season.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Impromptu » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:14 pm

I have rarely been to a national park without meeting some Germans visiting it. I don't know the exact reason, but Germans love our national parks.

In Washington I loved Mt Rainier and the Olympic mountains. In Oregon I loved Crater Lake. The Western United States is very, very large. Plan your travel accordingly.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by TxAg » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:32 pm

Impromptu wrote:I have rarely been to a national park without meeting some Germans visiting it. I don't know the exact reason, but Germans love our national parks.

In Washington I loved Mt Rainier and the Olympic mountains. In Oregon I loved Crater Lake. The Western United States is very, very large. Plan your travel accordingly.

Haha, I've noticed the same thing with the Germans

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Pam01 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:03 pm

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Mt. St Helens in Washington State. It is a National Volcanic Monument rather than a National Park. It is well worth the visit and is very close to Mt. Rainier. You can see the crater from 1980 eruption on the north side from Johnston Observatory or Windy Ridge. With a permit you can hike up the mountain.

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Fieldsy1024
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Fieldsy1024 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:00 am

ACADIA ROCKS! Try to get up early and go up to the top of (I think Cadillac Mtn.) Watch and take pics of the sun rise. I can send you/post pics if you want when we went.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Fieldsy1024 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:05 am

Image

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Oliver
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by Oliver » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:14 pm

Some of my fondest memories as a child-> teenager are traveling in a motorhome or trailer visiting the national parks.

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sometimesinvestor
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by sometimesinvestor » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:01 pm

nimo956 wrote:Thanks for all the recommendations! I want to see everything eventually, but am leaning towards Yosemite for my first trip. That seems like it'd be the easiest to get to, since I can fly direct to San Francisco and just drive from there.
I think you can also get there from San Francisco by train. For convenience and a lot of great scenery I would recommend Zion, Bryce and the North Rim in that you can easily drive and see all three in a short time. Zion is a few hour drive from Las Vegas than Bryce a similar or shorter ride from Zion and the North Rima similar trip from Bryce .When I did that I stayed overnight in Zion Drove to Bryce in the morning and in the afternoon to some small town and then to the north Rim in the morning .Going back to Vegas mean an overnight in St George and then back to Vegas. By the way a nice trip from Vegas is a flight from Vegas to the South Room where the plain flies between canyon walls followed by an opportunity to Tour some of the South Rim and thana flight back . Its been years but the trip might be around $200
A goodf description is that in Zion you look up. in Bryce you look out and at the North Rim you mostly look down

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by JMKEBogleGuy » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:02 pm

It certainly depends on what you want to do but hiking the Narrows in Zion is unforgettable. The Grand Canyon is the most awesome sight if you can get there in the dark and watch the sun rise in the morning and light up the canyon. Not a national park but havasupi falls a few hours from the south rim of the Grand Canyon is beautiful but a 10 mile hike to get to the falls... But you can't go wrong with the south west parks.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by dixdak » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:26 am

Very tough question. I want to see them all! Which ones would I love to revisit? Which can I check off?

Must revisit are Glacier, Zion, Capitol Reef, South Dakota Badlands, and Tetons.

Least interest in revisiting: Rocky Mt. (High meh factor), Grand Canyon (Family Vacation), Bryce (weather, crowded), Smokies(maybe), Yellowstone (median).

Went to Isle Royale in late September. Very hard to get to and expensive. No roads. Hiked 5 days across carrying all the food we needed. Saw the super moon total eclipse over a lake. Saw no people for 4.5 days, only moose. Caught the last ferry of season back to mainland. Priceless.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by abuss368 » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:53 am

Alcatraz?
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by ponyboy » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:42 am

Been to almost all the main national parks in the US.

My favorites are yosemite, yellowstone, glacier and sequoia.

Glacier by far had the most scenic hike...the highline loop trail I think it was called.

Yosemite..hiking half dome was great but a simple drive to glacier point has an amazing view. Book your trip when its a new moon, drive to glacier point at 1am and lay back on the large rocks there and look up. You want a natural high without mind altering drugs you can achieve it here. After 15 minutes your eyes adjust and you'll see an explosion of stars in the sky like you've never seen before. You can see the milky way with your eyes...no need for a camera with long exposures. It was unforgettable.

If you like animals yellowstone is the place to be.

And Sequoia...you are walking among giants. Its mind blowing.

Grand canyon was ok...was only there for a bus tour. Maybe thats why I wasnt too impressed.

Zion...again it was nice but nothing too special. Couldnt do the narrows as it was winter. However we could drive thru the park with our own car and there were only about 20 other people in the entire park which was awesome. Great time to visit is Feb.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by letsgobobby » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:52 am

Just got back from 3 days in Arches and Canyonlands. Beautiful places. The Devil's Garden hike in Arches is one of the most impressive easy day hikes we've done.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:59 am

ponyboy wrote:

Zion...again it was nice but nothing too special. Couldnt do the narrows as it was winter. However we could drive thru the park with our own car and there were only about 20 other people in the entire park which was awesome. Great time to visit is Feb.
Zion is a lot like Yosemite in that it isn't very impressive if you never leave the canyon bottom. Yosemite is a lot more impressive from the visor of Half Dome and Zion is a lot more impressive from Angel's Landing or deep in some of the slot canyons.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by letsgobobby » Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:37 am

White Coat Investor wrote:
ponyboy wrote:

Zion...again it was nice but nothing too special. Couldnt do the narrows as it was winter. However we could drive thru the park with our own car and there were only about 20 other people in the entire park which was awesome. Great time to visit is Feb.
Zion is a lot like Yosemite in that it isn't very impressive if you never leave the canyon bottom. Yosemite is a lot more impressive from the visor of Half Dome and Zion is a lot more impressive from Angel's Landing or deep in some of the slot canyons.
I agree some parks are more impressive in 3D but disagree that they are not impressive in 2D. Most Yosemite visitors only see the valley, but with several immense waterfalls and the view from the tunnel upon entering the valley, it can still very impressive. Impressive is in the eye of the beholder.

The vast majority of national park visitors are purely motorized, like at the Grand Canyon, where 90% of visitors never get more than 10 feet below the rim. But we shouldn't treat with disdain those who don't seek the backcountry or off trail experience. That would be a little too Edward Abbey, a little too much Harvey Manning and not enough Ira Spring.

The national parks are diverse enough for everyone to enjoy them in their own way. Let us say that the 'best' national parks to visit will depend on your interests, your abilities, the season, etc.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by dm200 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:32 pm

Yosemite Comments:
1. Yes - the valley is only one part of this wonderful esperience. BUT - if that is all you have time for, still worth the trip
2. Have stayed in both the houskeeping (camping type) "cabins" and the tent sleeping. Both great.
3. Spent one whole day hiking from the valley to the overlook and back down. If you can't hike it, then drive to the top and see the valley below.
4. If you are not able to go to Sequoia/Kings canyon to see the best "Big trees", then see the ones in Yosemite.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:54 am

letsgobobby wrote:
The vast majority of national park visitors are purely motorized, like at the Grand Canyon, where 90% of visitors never get more than 10 feet below the rim. But we shouldn't treat with disdain those who don't seek the backcountry or off trail experience.

Trust me, I'm quite glad that most park visitors are content to ride a bus around and say they "did" Zion or Yosemite. A lot fewer people to compete with for permits and routes.

And yes, they are both pretty even from the park roads, but you don't have to do much off them before you realize that 95% of what is available in that park cannot be experienced from the road.
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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by jlawrence01 » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:23 am

White Coat Investor wrote:Trust me, I'm quite glad that most park visitors are content to ride a bus around and say they "did" Zion or Yosemite. A lot fewer people to compete with for permits and routes.

And yes, they are both pretty even from the park roads, but you don't have to do much off them before you realize that 95% of what is available in that park cannot be experienced from the road.


There are a lot of us who are physically unable to make some of the climbs that would be required to see all 100% of the National Parks. And as you note, you should be glad as that frees up a lot of back country passes and the like. Furthermore, it reduces the crowds around more sensitive areas.

I will say that I have probably seen more of the National Parks/National Monumments/National Battlesites/National Forests than most albeit by car because I have taken the time to research the "off the beaten track" sites. Many of those sites equal much of what you see "on the road" of the major, heavily trafficked parks.

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by madpunster » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:00 am

Just in case it hasn't been mentioned, National Park Pass (all you can visit for a year) is $80. Free pass if military. $10 for a lifetime pass if over 62, and a free pass if disabled.

https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

And just to toss in my 0.02c worth, what you love is often a work in progress. I loved the Grand Canyon, then I loved hiking Bright Angel to Phantom ranch (I think 1-2% of visitors get to Phantom Ranch), then I loved hiking the South Kaibab down to Phantom Ranch and then rafting the Colorado. Now I can barely stand Grand Canyon Village.

FWIW, Crater Lake was gorgeous, Chaco Culture (Canyon) was holy (and there's a special crowd that goes 17 miles off road to get there to camp), Petrified Forest is amazing (and amazingly nostalgic), White Sands at midnight with a serendipitous Native/First Nation Ceremony, kayaking Apostle Islands or walking the ice caves in the winter.

Happy travels, see it all, love it all!

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Re: Five Best National Parks to Visit?

Post by white_water » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:17 pm

Don't know about "best" but these don't get as crowded. If you have any interest in SW native American history the last two are high on the list.

Isle Royale (ferry boat ride or float plane access, limited visitor services)
Death Valley ( late winter, desert flowers might be blooming in March)
Canyon de Chelly
Mesa Verde

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