MAP: National Park To-Visit List

Whenever I visit a site run by the National Park Service, I get a stamp in my National Parks Passport.

Whenever I visit a site run by the National Park Service, I get a stamp in my passport

My family loves to travel to National Parks. We love it so much we bought a  National Park Passport. It’s a program designed by the National Park Service to track all the parks you visit. At each of the visitors centers in the parks, there are stamps with the date and location that you can add to the passport. There’s something super gratifying about stamping the passport at each location.

I recently flipped through the book and realized how many of the National Parks I had visited. So far, I’ve been to 24 out of 59. It was then I decided to make it my life goal to visit all 59. Numbers-wise, I’m on track to easily visit all of them. As I studied the list of the places I have left to visit, I realized it won’t be easily accomplished. On my list of places left to visit include far-flung areas of Alaska, Death Valley and American Samoa. And, of course, none are close to Missouri.

My dad, siblings and I in Denali National Park in Alaska during summer 2012.

My dad, siblings and me in Denali National Park in Alaska.

And that’s not where the complications end. There might be 59 national parks, but there are 398 locations run by the National Park Service. These include not only the parks, but also national historic sites, national monuments, national seashores and several other designations of sites. These include places like George Washington’s Birthplace, the Lincoln Memorial and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. Park rangers in green uniforms still run these sites, but the reason for all the different designations stems from the federal mandates requiring every unit run by the National Park Service to meet certain specifications. Bottom line, however, is all the sites, no matter the designation, have fascinating things to see, great ranger programs and a stamp to place in your National Parks Passport.

I hope I can make to all 398 in my lifetime. But visiting 35 more national parks already sounds like a daunting task, so I’ll start there. Here’s where I have left to go:

Have you been to any of the parks on my to-visit list? What are some of your favorite national parks (or monuments, seashores, recreation areas, etc)?

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