Begin with United States National Parks, Part One

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.

  1. Acadia National Park: Maine
  2. American Samoa National Park: American Samoa
  3. Arches National Park: Utah
  4. Badlands National Park: South Dakota
  5. Big Bend National Park: Texas
  6. * Biscayne National Park: Florida [barely three hours from us, no less 🤔]
  7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Colorado
  8. Bryce Canyon National Park: Utah
  9. Canyonlands National Park: Utah
  10. Capitol Reef National Park: Utah
  11. Carlsbad Caverns National Park: New Mexico
  12. * Channel Islands National Park: California
  13. Congaree National Park: South Carolina
  14. Crater Lake National Park: Oregon
  15. Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Ohio
  16. Death Valley National Park: California, Nevada
  17. Denali National Park: Alaska

Click on photos to enlarge.

Click on links to go to the National Park Service site for each park.

About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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27 Responses to Begin with United States National Parks, Part One

  1. On visits to the US I’ve only had time to make little trips out of cities. Acadia, Everglades, and Sequoia are the only US national parks I’ve been to, and they were memorable. But even otherwise, driving just a short way out of cities on the west or east coast, or a little drive to the Blue mountains or the Rockies, or just a little time walking outdoors in the countryside, you see so many birds, butterflies, insects, and wild plants, that it would immediately give the lie to the word “dead”. The temperate zones are not like rain forests, but they are still full of life.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Wow all looks amazing. I wouldnt listen to much to the people who think they have seen it all by visiting a city. America is beautiful cant wait to explore more myself
    Have a great day

    Liked by 5 people

  3. That blogger was either an ignoramus or perhaps had an anti-American axe to grind (sadly, so fashionable these days). I hope you put him and his readers straight. But never mind him, you just keep on lengthening my bucket list, damn you! 😉

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Garfield Hug says:

    It is true that one travels the world, but fails to travel one’s own land to see the beauty of it. I know the USA has beautiful land and sea scapes plus a lot of parks to tout about. I am glad you featured this post and it reminds me to take time out and see my own lil red dot too!

    Liked by 5 people

    • ralietravels says:

      Lil red dot was featured in a movie recently – no doubt you know which one – and we would love to see it too. It is trite but true, so many places, so little time.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Garfield Hug says:

        Haha!! Lil red dot is portrayed by Hollywood as a drug lord center (Hawaii Five O) or arms trading center and recently money laundering. 😉

        Haha in truth, it is not true as we are squeaky clean with laws that has death by hanging as penalty etc.

        I hope one day you can visit lil red dot and enjoy our food!!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. The Black Canyon is incredible, to stand on the edge. The surrounding countryside is a place apart. Highly recommend this park. Thanks for this overview.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I guess that especially this summer a lot of people will re-discover that their own countries have a lot of beauty to offer!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The Log Cabin Sage says:

    Great post & RIGHT ON. America is one beautiful place with a little bit of something for everyone. Too bad climate change is going to mess it all up. (sighs) Glad to see you guys are well – stay that way. Mac

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pit says:

    OMG: you really are TRAVELLERS! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Sue Slaght says:

    So much to explore in these beautiful places. I agree that being to the urban centers of any country doe not mean one has visited the country.Are your national parks open? In Canada our are currently closed with a fraction of them scheduled to open in June.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Dee Gilbert says:

    A well traveled blogger should know better than to generalize with a limited experience of the US. There are 50 states that offer beautiful experiences with nature. I agree, anyone who wants to experience the US should visit the National Parks.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ralietravels says:

      I have often wondered if some of the places we visited were typical of the country or just where the plane/ship landed. When we lived in your area, an educated man from Europe visited and wondered if we could see Disneyland over the weekend. He was educated about subjects other than geography and had no sense of the size of the U.S.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dee Gilbert says:

        As one who enjoys traveling, I read about and research the places on my travel list. The activities include looking up the places on a map. It’s puzzling how one would fly to a foreign country without learning a bit of its geography. To me, learning about the places I plan to visit is part of the fun!

        Liked by 2 people

  11. JohnRH says:

    Informative post, Ray. Great photos. We hope to drive to the mountains for a weekend soon. Miss the great outdoors.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Dave Ply says:

    The National Parks became national parks for a reason. I’ve seen seven of your initial list, mostly from an extended trip in 1977, and they were all outstanding. I understand some national parks are getting loved to death these days. Too many people…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. neelstoria says:

    I always say there’s so much to see in my own country that a lifetime isn’t enough 🙂
    But often we go exploring other countries even before we look closer home.
    I am aware of the many National Parks in the US, but never been to one. I really wish to though. All my US visits have been office related and that leaves hardly any time to explore the place. And, now I am not even sure if we will ever travel again, I mean from office. Going on my own would be too expensive an affair. Those photographs are so pretty.

    Liked by 4 people

    • ralietravels says:

      Yes, we can’t have it all. We would love to see the Himalayas but suspect our time to make that trip has passed. But we are grateful for what we have been able to do.


  14. says:

    Wow…..that’s good to see things coming back on track. That’s a informative list. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Ray, it’s impressive that you’ve visited so many National Parks – lucky you. I’m a huge believer in our NPs and believe they are truly a national treasure. The variety of sights to see is incredible by any standards. Also, with the hassles and unknowns for international travel, I suspect that more North Americans will be taking advantage of these domestic destinations, and hopefully, this will be the shot in the arm that their budgets need. ~James

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I also love national parks, whether in the US or outside.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. travelgarb says:

    National parks are one of America’s best inventions.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thanks so much for this post and the rest of your National Park series. Our parks are such treasures. You have quite an impressive list of parks you have visited. I am amazed at how many people I meet have never been to any of the National Parks. Many have been on cruises and to Europe but have never seen the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. We would never have visited as many as we have if we had not gotten an RV and traveled around the country for months at a time.

    Liked by 2 people

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