My United States National Parks Bucket List
Note: This is the first of a three part series; the other two will focus on cities and historical attractions
My trip to Utah last year not only sparked my interest in America’s beautiful and incredible West, but it also made me want to really start to visit more of America’s national parks in Western states. Having lived all of my life on the East Coast, my time in Arches National Park was like nothing else.
1) Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Every picture I’ve seen of Yellowstone National Park absolutely blows me away. Whether it’s the amazing topography, the incredible geological features, its vast wildlife, or its soaring mountains that truly seem to reach the clouds, I know I would be in heaven. 2015 was a year in which a lot of my travel was more nature/landscape themed, and this is something I definitely want to continue. And even though it’s in a remote corner of Wyoming, it’s actually not “too” bad to get to-fly to Chicago to connect to a flight on to Jackson Hole, which is then about 2.5 hours driving from the park, although Jackson Hole itself is a popular tourist destination too.
2) Grand Canyon, Arizona
Well, I couldn’t include a national parks bucket list without mentioning Grand Canyon, now could I? It seems that even if some people have barely traveled in their lifetimes, this is one place they’ve been to, so clearly I don’t want to get too far behind. I don’t think there’s a bad photo opportunity anywhere in the park, but this is a place where I’d really like to partake in either capturing a killer sunset or sunrise. Incredible sunset pictures are something that grip me with the worst case of travel envy.
3) Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
I have been obsessed with this place ever since I was in third grade, when I first learned about the Anasazi people (also known as the Ancestral Puebloans). The park’s most famous feature are the 600 cliff dwellings where the Anasazi people made their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. It’s just under 200 miles from Utah’s Canyonlands National Park and while that’s still a distance, out West I know that it’s not really too much, so I could easily see combining these two spots, especially since Mesa Verde is almost a seven hour drive from Denver, Colorado.
4) Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands is the other national park in the Moab, Utah area so I was relatively close to it last year. Although the state of Utah has a vast array of utterly stunning national parks, Canyonlands is the one I have the most interest in visiting next. Its colorful landscape has eroded over time into canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries.
5) Glacier National Park, Montana
One of my favorite movies is Legends of the Fall which takes place in Montana in the early 20th century (back when it was still just a territory). While I greatly enjoyed the story line (a rather terrific historical epic), it was also the cinematography that enthralled me so. The park features over one million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges (I will always prefer the ocean to mountains but the latter is starting to win me over more), over 130 named lakes, and more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This is one of the more difficult parks to get to due to its distance from any major airport, so this might stay on the bucket list for a bit.
Have you been to any of the parks I mentioned? What are the ones out west you want to visit the most?