Visiting the National Parks

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insuredbyme
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Visiting the National Parks

Post by insuredbyme » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:16 pm

Help, my wife wants to visit ALL of the National Parks. (whoopee)
So, my thought is fly into a central location, rent a car and drive to as many as we can in a 1 week period over the months in the Spring, Summer and Fall 2017.
So, any ideas where to start and then the next one and so one.

The Wizard
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by The Wizard » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:20 pm

This may be more complicated than you realize.
Do you live in the US already?
You'll have Hawaii and Alaska to deal with, too.

Oddly enough, the central location for the lower 48 would be Kansas, but no National Parks there yet, to my knowledge...
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2retire
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by 2retire » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:26 pm

It would be quite something for you to get them all on in one year; there are 59 of them. You can start here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_n ... ted_States

The map gives you a good idea of the general locations of each park so you can get an overview of where you'd have to fly to see the most from that one location.

retiredjg
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by retiredjg » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:27 pm

There are 59 National Parks. You can't visit them all in 3 weeks.

There are 417 units in the National Park System (parks, monuments, seashores, historic sites, etc.). Many are just as majestic and wonderful and interesting as the places designated as "parks". Some are even better.

Even if you pick a place like Utah that has lots of NPS units all close to each other, visiting more than 2 or 3 in a week would be absolutely nuts.

"This may be more complicated than you realize" is a bit of an understatement. :happy

Find out what your wife really wants to see and experience and make it happen. If her goal is all 59, it will take years, not just 3 weeks in one summer. And you'll be missing lots of great places too.

mnmnm9
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by mnmnm9 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:30 pm

This is not physically possible in one week!

The most you could do is hit up maybe 3 or 4 max - i.e. fly into Vegas, rent a car and drive to Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce or hire a tour to take you to all three in a week because trying to DIY would require a lot of research - though there are some good publications out there that will cover all of these parks.

Other options where you could hit multiple include: Yosemite, Death Valley, Sequoia/Kings Canyon but I personally wouldn't attempt that with less than 2 weeks.

Yellowstone/Grand Tetons would make for a wonderful week - we did a very rapid self tour camping in 5 days, then spent a leisurely 9 days in the Tetons.

This will also all be weather dependent - many places with mountains may not be as good to visit in the Spring, but great in Summer and Fall, depending on how advanced of a snow navigator you are. Also consider lodging - do you need to be staying in hotels, or camping? There is tons of great first come first serve camping in our Natl Parks, but you'll have to be up and driving at 5 or 6am to nab a spot in the summer. Do you and your wife want to stay in the car and see the park by car/shuttle, or get off the beaten path and experience hiking, rafting, climbing, snow shoeing or other adventures?

I would say - start where you are based and visit the closest 2-3 parks to get a feel for the itineraries. Fall is my favorite time for 90% of the National Parks I've visited.

livesoft
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by livesoft » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:34 pm

The OP didn't quite say they wanted to see all the parks in one week. :)

Thanks for the link to the map. I've been to many of the National Parks in my lifetime and still have more to visit.
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Grogs
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by Grogs » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:41 pm

Yeah, enjoy the journey, don't get caught up rushing from one park to another. I live just an hour or so from the Great Smoky Mountains and I can't imagine 'seeing it' in just a day or two. Maybe just pick one or two each year and try to make it a bucket list thing.

That said, I did visit Utah and do Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon in one week. We were planning to head over to Arches as well, but we were too tired by the end of the week and cut it. I decided to spend another day at Zion instead and was really happy with the decision.

2retire
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by 2retire » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:45 pm

The Wizard wrote:You'll have Hawaii and Alaska to deal with, too.

Not to mention, the Virgin Islands.

fourwheelcycle
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by fourwheelcycle » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:46 pm

Grand Canyon (Preferably both rims) (Could do a grand loop with Zion and Bryce, plus maybe even Arches and Mesa Verde.
Yellowstone
Yosemite

Next Grand Tetons and the Many Glaciers area of Glacier National Park (or better yet, Banff to Jasper, which is not ours)

In the East:

Gettysburg
Acadia

Colonial Williamsburg is not a national park, but it is a must see.

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dm200
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by dm200 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:01 pm

There are about ten national parks in California alone!

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Flobes
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by Flobes » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:02 pm

Another multi-park week: fly into Denver.

Go south 253 miles to Great Sand Dunes NP. Drive west 223 miles to Mesa Verde NP. Drive north 205 miles to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. Drive east 267 through Rocky Mountain NP. Drive 83 miles to fly home from DIA. One airport, four very different national parks, 1000 miles.

Bonus park: go west from Black Canyon, 219 miles into Utah to Arches NP. From there it's 400 miles to Rocky Mountain.

Either way, you can collect a lot of souvenirs, get your National Parks Passport stamped, and notch up your count. You will cruise through some breathtaking magnificent county, but you won't really "see" any of the parks.

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dm200
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by dm200 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:04 pm

dm200 wrote:There are about ten national parks in California alone!


I would think visiting Redwood, Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia would be a bit of a rush for a week (if you want to spend enough time to enjoy anything)

avalpert
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by avalpert » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:08 pm

2retire wrote:
The Wizard wrote:You'll have Hawaii and Alaska to deal with, too.

Not to mention, the Virgin Islands.

And American Samoa

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TxAg
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by TxAg » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:15 pm

I want to do this when we retire...over a few years. Already have 9 down. I missed out on Dry Tortugas twice while in Key West...still kicking myself over that one.

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dm200
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by dm200 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:23 pm

avalpert wrote:
2retire wrote:
The Wizard wrote:You'll have Hawaii and Alaska to deal with, too.

Not to mention, the Virgin Islands.

And American Samoa


I have actually been to American Samoa (on business about 20 years ago). I don't recommend it.

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Peter Foley
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by Peter Foley » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:23 pm

If I were going to try to do this I would break it into at least a west trip and an east trip for the continental US. A lot of the west could be done with Denver as a base camp.

Sorry, but is really nothing close to my home base of Voyagers National Park, nor Isle Royal either. Teddy Roosevelt and the Badlands are also pretty isolated.

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JMacDonald
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by JMacDonald » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:33 pm

Don't overlook the National Parks in Canada: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_N ... _of_Canada
The parks just north of Glacier National Park are easy to get to and worth the trip.
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TylerS7
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by TylerS7 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:42 pm

In right around two weeks my girlfriend and I drove from Omaha and we did Rocky Mountain National Park, Canyonlands National Park, ArchesNational Park, drove to Portland stopping in Salt Lake City and Boise each for a night, camped at a lake near mt hood for two nights, went back through coeur d'alene idaho, up to Glacier National Park, down to Yellowstone, drove through Grand Teton National Park on our way back down to I80, and headed home. We were 24 at the time and just out of school and mostly slept in a tent, had hotels or airbnb's in the cities. It was amazing, and a lot of fun, but that was our first and last road trip like that. If you want to see a lot of parks, starting in Denver and doing a loop west to Utah and up to Montana and and Wyoming and back down wouldn't be a bad route. You could probably draw up a good loop in the southwest/California as well.

DSInvestor
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by DSInvestor » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:44 pm

JMacDonald wrote:Don't overlook the National Parks in Canada: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_N ... _of_Canada
The parks just north of Glacier National Park are easy to get to and worth the trip.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_ ... itage_Site


Entrance into Canada's National parks are free for 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary. You can order a pass here:
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/voyage-travel/admission.aspx

Lillibelle
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by Lillibelle » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:57 pm

Brings "Ithaca" to mind <3

" . . . do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years . . ."
Last edited by Lillibelle on Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nisiprius
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by nisiprius » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:38 pm

insuredbyme wrote:Help, my wife wants to visit ALL of the National Parks. (whoopee)
So, my thought is fly into a central location, rent a car and drive to as many as we can in a 1 week period over the months in the Spring, Summer and Fall 2017.
So, any ideas where to start and then the next one and so one.
Whoa. Well, I'm not sure I understand your plan. You're talking about separate one-week trips, or just one week? Either way, I don't think this is a good idea. Most national parks "need" more than a day. And trying to rush through them can be stressful. Yellowstone for example is big, many miles to drive, traffic can be slow and congested, and often the congestion is because of wildlife which you want to stop and see yourself.

Last summer we did a nine-week road trip, and visited the following places within a period of maybe a five weeks (we didn't just visit these places, we spent eleven days in Custer State Park, for example):

Badlands National Park (sensational! spent three days...),

Wind Cave National Park (Took the standard cave tour, half a day),

Mt. Rushmore National Monument (half a day... actually my wife said "I've seen it before, I'll just wait in the car with the dog while you take a look," but the grandkids have seen pictures of it and I felt I needed to get a selfie of myself in front of it for them),

Devils Tower National Monument (OK, you could fairly "do" it in half a day) (We spent two days, loved it),

Yellowstone National Park (five days, not enough but it's all we could get reservations for),

Pompeys Pillar National Monument (just a quick stop--it's of historical interest because Lewis and Clark stopped there and one of them carved their name on a rock which you can still see),

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (spent one day, wish we'd had time to spend more).

That all fits within a circle of about 200 miles in diameter. We didn't go to Jewel Cave National Park, but the schedule would have allowed it... my wife isn't fond of caves. I think within a week you could successfully get a selfie of yourself in front of the entrance signs of all these places, but...
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effillus
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by effillus » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:50 pm

Rushing through our beautiful national parks would be a travesty. What's the point?

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VictoriaF
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:11 pm

insuredbyme wrote:Help, my wife wants to visit ALL of the National Parks.


Only U.S. National Parks? Or also Canadian National Parks?

Victoria
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dreamrrr
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by dreamrrr » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:15 pm

This link gives a suggested route.
http://www.randalolson.com/2016/07/30/the-optimal-u-s-national-parks-centennial-road-trip/
Not sure that it hits every park.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:15 pm

fourwheelcycle wrote:Colonial Williamsburg is not a national park, but it is a must see.


In the fall I will be attending a symposium at William & Mary, and I added 1.5 days to my stay to look around. It's nice to know that Colonial Williamsburg is on par with national parks.

Victoria
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fourwheelcycle
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by fourwheelcycle » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:20 am

VictoriaF wrote:In the fall I will be attending a symposium at William & Mary, and I added 1.5 days to my stay to look around. It's nice to know that Colonial Williamsburg is on par with national parks.Victoria


Good that you are going in the fall (or spring). The weather is stifling in the summer. For a first visit, it is worth buying a more expensive ticket that includes entrance to the Governors Mansion and the other "name" houses and craft shops, like silversmith and rifle making.

They really put on a show from Thanksgiving through Christmas, but I have not been during that period.

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alpenglow
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by alpenglow » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:27 am

dm200 wrote:
I have actually been to American Samoa (on business about 20 years ago). I don't recommend it.


What didn't you like? Not that I have any plans to visit AS - more curious than anything else.

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dm200
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by dm200 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:47 am

alpenglow wrote:
dm200 wrote:I have actually been to American Samoa (on business about 20 years ago). I don't recommend it.

What didn't you like? Not that I have any plans to visit AS - more curious than anything else.


Mildew everywhere! All the bad things about a tropical island and all the bad things about the US. Very corrupt society and culture.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:25 am

fourwheelcycle wrote:
Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:20 am
VictoriaF wrote:In the fall I will be attending a symposium at William & Mary, and I added 1.5 days to my stay to look around. It's nice to know that Colonial Williamsburg is on par with national parks.Victoria
Good that you are going in the fall (or spring). The weather is stifling in the summer. For a first visit, it is worth buying a more expensive ticket that includes entrance to the Governors Mansion and the other "name" houses and craft shops, like silversmith and rifle making.

They really put on a show from Thanksgiving through Christmas, but I have not been during that period.
Thank you again for the recommendation. As I was planning my trip, I found some specials. For the $41 price of a single day, I am getting an annual pass to the Colonial Williamsburg. The weather in Williamsburg will be gorgeous this week.

Victoria
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Re: Visiting the National Parks

Post by Angangang » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:34 am

I have a similar goal and have been pursuing it in a manner much like what you suggested - fly somewhere, rent a car, then seen as many as you can.

By doing things this way - in manageable chunks - I find that we really get the feel of a region and thereby remember the parks individually. I have heard stories of people doing three week trips running from one park to another, and afterward they don't remember which park is which. Taking a week to ten days each time we have seen some great local festivals and concerts to give each region some context.

If you look at a map of our National Parks, you see that many of them are in clusters; and some are more isolated. As other posts have noted, some of the more popular clusters include:

1. The "start in Vegas" cluster - Fly in and out of Las Vegas and see the Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, etc.
2. The Colorado cluster - Fly in and out of Denver and see Rocky Mountains, Dunes, etc.

There are clusters in Southern California, east/west of Phoenix, in Texas/New Mexico, and in Alaska. We have also combined Yosemite/Redwoods (flying in and out of SF) and Yellowstone and Teton (probably best to fly in and out of SLC).

We did the NP's in the Dakotas last year and enjoyed it even more than expected. We flew in/out of Rapid City and saw Badlands, Wind Cave, and then Theodore Roosevelt. On this loop you can also easily see Custer State Park and Devil's Tower.

Next we may pursue the Washington state loop - fly in/out of Seattle and see North Cascades, Olympic, and Mt. Rainier.

The more isolated parks you just pick off as you can. We are looking at Glacier or even Mammoth Cave in this way, for example.

Let me know if you want some budget accommodation and food options. We always travel with sleeping bags and a backpacking stove/cookset and dishes because we find the parks often much more isolated than expected. It is usually better to have your own food and equipment to better enjoy the more rustic accommodation and not rely on the overcrowded and overpriced monopoly food vendors. At Yellowstone, for example, we stayed at Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins (something like $75 per night - booked ten months ahead). I am not sure I would have enjoyed Yellowstone half as much if we had stayed at the Old Faithful Inn where rooms run $150 - $300 per night.

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