I recently read a post by a well-traveled foreign blogger who referred the the United States as ecologically “dead.” He had visited the U.S. — Miami, New York and Los Angeles — and somehow thought he had seen the United States.
Unfortunately, our own citizens are not much better. When I was working in Washington, D.C. and the metro New York City area, so many of my acquaintances had been to Paris, Rome and London but had never seen any of our own country.
This is a big country. You really can’t grasp it from an airplane.
Perhaps when “social distancing” has ended, people won’t be interested in seeing sparsely-populated areas, but there is a lot to see. There are 109 million acres of protected wilderness in the U.S. Our national parks cover 84 million acres. The Bureau of Land Management manages 244.4 million federally-owned mixed use acres and the Forest Service manages 192.9 million acres. Plus, fifty-six percent of the 751 million acres of forest land in the United States is privately owned.
As a reference point, the United Kingdom has an area of 59.922 million acres.
Wrangell St. Elias is the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined! And it has higher mountains!
If you are ready to explore the U.S. beyond the coasts, the national parks are a great place to begin. They are beautiful, for the most part well-managed, and illuminate a country that has been committed to preserving its natural beauty for over one hundred years.
There are 62 U.S. National parks. Here is a list of the first 17 alphabetically. Asterisks indicate parks we have not visited yet.
- Acadia National Park: Maine
- American Samoa National Park: American Samoa
- Arches National Park: Utah
- Badlands National Park: South Dakota
- Big Bend National Park: Texas
- * Biscayne National Park: Florida [barely three hours from us, no less 🤔]
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Colorado
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Utah
- Canyonlands National Park: Utah
- Capitol Reef National Park: Utah
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park: New Mexico
- * Channel Islands National Park: California
- Congaree National Park: South Carolina
- Crater Lake National Park: Oregon
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Ohio
- Death Valley National Park: California, Nevada
- Denali National Park: Alaska
Click on photos to enlarge.
Click on links to go to the National Park Service site for each park.