Recently, President Obama designated several areas as national monuments.
Our newest national monuments include:
- Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico
- San Juan Islands National Monument, Washington State
- Harriet Tubman National Monument, Maryland
- Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Ohio
- Delaware Historic Sites, Delaware
It inspired me to think about my favorite national parks that I have visited. And also allowed me to imagine how this designation will protect these lands forever, from human destruction, and commercial development. Then, I thought I would list a few of my favorites from each state.
California Of course, Yosemite National Park is in our backyard, simply spectacular, and world famous. We are so fortunate to have Yosemite so close by. I can drive up and back in a day, sight see, ride my bicycle, hike, or just have lunch!
Oregon Crater Lake National Park has always been my favorite, so crystal blue and clear (1,943 feet deep). And I always look for it when flying over the state of Oregon. The central coast is also greatly entertaining, as is the Willamette Valley for wine.
Washington I would call it a tie between Olympic and Mt Rainier National Parks, both special in their own way. But be prepared for the cold, even in the summer! Added bonus, Seattle is our favorite American city!
Arizona Some would say it is the Grand Canyon National Park, automatically. But others, like Saguaro. have a charm unto themselves. Plus my favorite spot for photography is Antelope Canyon in Page, northern Arizona. Plus, there are many other monuments and historic sites to visit, along with magnificent red rock vistas in Sedona.
Utah Another state with so many choices. But, by a thin margin, I would say Bryce Canyon National Park for its unique hoodoos, slightly ahead of Arches, and Canyonlands. That leaves Zion in last place, one heck of a place itself! And it means that you can also visit St. George, Utah, a great place to stay, see, and dine.
Montana I love Glacier National Park, even though the glaciers are receding. Make sure you go in the summer when the nerve-wracking and beautiful “Going to the Sun” Road is open from west to east. Plus, our friend Megan and her B&B are in nearby Bigfork, a gateway to Glacier. Have a buffalo burger and slice of huckleberry pie!
South Dakota Nowhere else can you find a place like Badlands National Park, along with other sights like Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis (during the motorcycle rally), Custer State Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The roads are great. This is a very underrated state!
Maine Another unique place, Acadia National Park, surrounded by the beauty of Maine, especially in the Fall. Add to that, the abundance of Maine lobster, the home of L.L. Bean, and the funny way that people in Maine greet you.
Colorado While I thought the continental divide was more interesting, Rocky Mountain National Park is still a vast wonderland, displaying the best of the Rocky Mountains. I also thought Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs were worthwhile visits as well.
Wyoming How can anyone not put Yellowstone National Park at the top of their list? But I enjoyed Grand Teton equally, and with lots fewer people to bother me.
Florida While I am not enamored of this state, I was pleasantly surprised by Everglades National Park, the great wilderness and waterway of the state. But the drive out to Key West was just as interesting.
Hawaii How anyone can visit Maui and not see the sunrise at Haleakala National Park is beyond me. It is not only other worldly, it is biting bitter cold, as cold as I have ever been. Please do more than just lay in the sun at the beach. This is simply spectacular.
Massachusetts Cape Cod is a legendary place, but so are the historic sights in Boston, and the witches in Salem. This place is a living history lesson!!!
North Carolina I really did not set out to drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway, but 469 miles is a long road to avoid on any trip to N.C. While I did my post-grad studies at UNC Chapel Hill, I “accidently” hit the Blue Ridge while heading out to play golf!
Many people have the goal of visiting every national park. Not me, as I am happy to have visited every state at least once, and some, once too many. The parks are special, and an enduring legacy for future generations. To those of you wanting the land for other purposes, too bad! Nature, preservation, and beauty win every time.