Yosemite National Park, Muir Woods National Monument, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wright Brothers National Memorial, San Juan National Historic Site, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Oregon National Historic Trail. All of these sites are managed by the National Park Service. All of them are part of the United States National Park System. The names are designed to help explain their purpose and level of protection. Sometimes the names are confusing and sometimes don’t make sense. To most visitors, the designation doesn’t matter but learning the national park system nomenclature can help understand the importance of these American Treasures.
The sun had long since set by the time I got to Crater Lake National Park. I had made the long drive from Davis, CA to Crater Lake National Park after work to spend the weekend in Oregon’s only national park. I couldn’t wait to check out Crater Lake as it would be my 42nd national park and the last of the Cascade mountain national parks. As with most of my trips, this was a last minute decision to spend the weekend in Crater Lake.
I stepped off the plane and on to a South Pacific Island. Yet, I haven’t even left the United States. I am still ‘technically” in the United States. I had landed at the Pago Pago International Airport on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. American Samoa is an unincorporated unorganized territory of the United States. Basically, the islands are owned by the US but operate under local rule and customs. The U.S. Federal Government has limited involvement in American Samoa politics and American Samoans are U.S. Nationals but not citizens. I have traveled to this far flung island chain south of the equator and halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii to spend four days exploring the National Park of American Samoa.
I am a national park junkie in every sense of the word. I have been to 41 National Parks and over 150 of the other National Park units. My love of the national park system came at an early age. I was to my first national park before I was a year old. It is no secret that I love our national parks. I am forever thankful for the efforts of early environmentalists. Their tireless work saved many of these magnificent places from destruction. The U.S. National Park system is often called ‘America’s Best Idea.’ I firmly believe this statement. Over the last couple of years, I have realized out park system is under attack.
My quest to visit all 59 National Parks has taken many twists and turns. I didn’t know I was going to get a chance to visit the Virgin Islands National Park in St. John this year. I had a last minute opportunity to go so I jumped on the chance and took a flight over to St. Thomas then the ferry to St. John. The Virgin Islands National Park takes up the majority of St. John. This has limited the number of hotels and tourists on the island.