My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

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Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday Dear National Park Service
Happy Birthday to You.

On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service.  Happy 99th Birthday National Parks!  May you make help protect the US national parks for another 99 plus years.  The park service has grown from 35 original parks to 408 parks.  Today over 84 million acres of land is protected and managed by the park service.  Over the last 24 years, I have been to 67 of the 408 units.

Happybirthday

The Snow Bridge, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

I spent the summer of 2010 working in Paradise Inn in Mount Rainier National Park.   One day in late May, myself and fellow co-worker decided to go hike from Paradise Inn to Longmire.  We would then catch the employee shuttle back up to Paradise.  We rented snowshoes and off we went down the mountain.  The trail was marked, or so the ranger told us.  It was occasionally marked.  About halfway down we couldn’t find  anything that looked like a trail.  We just kept heading down and hoped for the best.  We were about to head right and try and find the road when we came across this bridge.  We were so excited because it meant we were on the trail.

Private Tour, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

I was sitting in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park waiting for my morning lantern tour when the crash of thunder shook the building.   I watched the storm clouds gather over the desert.  The clouds opened and the rain started.  The park service closed the park.  The park re-opened later that afternoon and I returned for my afternoon wild cave tour. I was the only person to show up so, I do a private tour of Lower Cave and got to do some crawls not normally on the tour.

Seeing the Northern  Lights, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

I was photographing the stars near in the amphitheater in Badlands National Park on my South Dakota road trip.  I noticed that the sky was starting have a green tint to it. I kept looking to a the sky and shaking my head.  It couldn’t be.  I was not watching the Northern Lights in the middle of summer.  I stopped a ranger and pointed it out.  He confirmed what I was seeing.  Never mind the three weeks in Iceland in winter looking for them, I just need to come to South Dakota in summer.

First Wolf sightings, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

I will never forget seeing wolves in Yellowstone National Park.  I was 6 years old and my parents and I were exploring the park.  I was going thought a wolf stage and I wanted to see them in the wild so bad. It was dusk and we were at an overlook using the binoculars to scan for them. We were just about to head into our campsite when a wolf appears along the tree line.  I was so excited to see a wolf. It was the highlight of the trip. It would be years later until I would understand the significance of this sight. The sighting occurred just a few short weeks after the wolves were reintroduced to the park.

Almost touching a Mountain Goat, Glacier National Park, Montana

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

We were at one of the overlooks along the Sun Road.  I was walking through the parking lot towards the car when a heard of mountain goats wander through.  They are so used to people that they just walk right past people.  A male walks within inches of me.  I remember thinking that I wanted to touch him.  I thought about it but remember watching that women get kicked by an elk fort touching him.

Hunting Ghosts, Dry Tortugas National Park, FloridaMy 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

For my last spring break in college, a couple friends and I took the ferry out to Dry Tortugas National Park.  We were to spend four days camping and exploring the island.  We arrive and discovered that one of the Syfy channel ghost hunting shows was filming on the island while we were there.  We spent part of the night following the hunters around on the sea wall watching them film.

Owl sighting, Everglades National Park, Florida

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National ParksMy 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

I was walking along the boardwalks in Everglades National Park when I noticed what looked like owl pellets.  I started looking up.   After a couple of minutes, I found the owl hiding among the trees.  I was almost as excited about this as I would have been a flamingo.  It was an unexpected end to my trip to the Everglades.

Setting Sun, Petrified Forest National  Park, Arizona

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

During my road trip to my internship to Colorado, I spent two days in Petrified Forest National Park.  I decided to save some money on lodging by camping in the Painted Desert.  I hike a mile out into the desert and spent the night on a dune and watched the sun set over the desert and spent the night listing to the sounds of the desert wildlife.

Hiking Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks

Since I saw the first pictures of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, I knew I had to visit.  It took me over 5 years to actually visit the park.  I got up early and caught the first bus up the canyon with three other people.  We started up the two and half mile trail up to the landing.  I reached the landing about an hour and half later.  I enjoyed watching the Zion Canyon in the early morning light.  The view did not disappoint.

What is your favorite moment from a US National Park?

28 Replies to “My 9 Favorite Moments in the US National Parks”

  1. Pingback: 38 Tips for Visiting the Best US National Parks - Luxe Adventure Traveler

  2. Pingback: Limitless Pursuits // Jennifer Melroy: travel blogger and mountain enthusiast

  3. Cailin

    This post and my recent trip to the Adirondacks have both inspired me to see more of the US National State Parks, they all seem so awesome and beautiful! You are lucky to have visited so many 🙂

    Reply
  4. Karilyn

    Love this! I especially love that you remember seeing wolves in Yellowstone at age 6! We are planning a trip tobYellowstone next summer and my son will almost be 6. He still remembers most of his national park visits so far, so I hope it continues through the years. And the northern lights in the Dakotas‽ so awesome!! Would be amazing if we could also see those next summer as it’s also in my sons wish list!
    Karilyn’s current road . . . E.T. at the Hollywood BowlMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      Make sure he gets his junior ranger badges along the way. I remember a lot of the animal sightings. Not much else but I did have a lot of fun. I couldn’t believe it on the northern lights. Love that you are sharing the parks with him early. Tell him to spend a summer working at one during college.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I couldn’t believe it. In some ways I still can’t. It was like wait a minute the sky is slightly green. It was funny because I had spent 3 weeks chasing the lights in Iceland during the winter. and yet in South Dakota in the summer I see them.

      Reply
  5. Meg Jerrard

    Sounds like you’ve had some great experiences in National Parks! The US turly has some of the best – Snow Bridge, Mount Rainier National Park looks like it was so much fun! I’ve been to a few of the parks you’ve listed but not all. Totally with you that camping on Dry Tortugas off Florida also makes it into my higlights list. Though thinking next time we visit we’ll try to catch a seaplane lol we took the ferry and the sea was so choppy that it didn’t sit well with my stomache. Though totally worth it obviously 😀
    Meg Jerrard’s current road . . . A 3 Day Itinerary For Discovering the Arty Underworld of SydneyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I didn’t mind the boat ride plus I didn’t want to triple the cost of camping since you have to pay for the sea plane twice camp. The snow bridge is one of my favorite memories from that summer.

      Reply
  6. Heather Cole

    It’s great to see some of the lesser known national parks getting a shout out, and I love that you have such unique special memories for each. Wish we had snow as deep as that (although possibly not on our bridges!), and I’ve always wanted to see a real live wolf in the wild (although I think I’d be terrified). Need to get back to the states and get my hiking boots back on!
    Heather Cole’s current road . . . Mauritius – so much more than beachesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      Surprisingly, I don’t consider most of these lesser known parks. I love them all the same. I loved the snow it was an experience. I suggest Yellowstone then I have see them there and in Grand Tetons.

      Reply
  7. Marie-Carmen

    I’ve sadly never been to a National Park in the US (I guess mainly because I’ve never been to the US yet) but they are the main thing that attracts me to this country (and the food).
    My dad is a big fan of them and has been there a few times, they look gorgeous! Lovely memories you shared, love the mountain goat!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      Doesn’t matter what country you are in, National Parks are fantastic. I have been to some amazing parks around the world. The USA has one of the better support systems for their parks but I haven’t been to a Park I haven’t enjoyed.

      Reply

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