It’s National Park Week: Where will your family go?

Our family in Yosemite last summer.

Our family in Yosemite last summer.

It’s National Park Week, which means you get free admission to any of the 401 National Parks across the United States through April 28.

You know as a family we love our National Parks, and I love to promote them any chance I get. Last summer, we visited eight National Parks in California, including Yosemite, Sequoia, King’s Canyon and several around San Francisco. (We especially loved exploring the ships in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.)

This summer we are planning to hit the Daddy of All National Parks – Yellowstone! It was America’s first National Park created in 1872. We also are planning to visit the Grand Tetons and Zion National Park in Utah and maybe some others along the way. (See the next blog around noon — we need camping advice!)

To promote National Park Week, which runs April 20 to the 28, and it’s Junior Ranger program, the National Park Service posted on Facebook about the Drevlow family from Minnesota.

The Drevlow family has visited more than 200 National Parks and earned 1,696 Junior Ranger badges.

I started counting our visits but we aren’t even close to the Drevlow family. I stopped at 45. We may have a few more than that but it’s pretty close.

The Park Service has a fun website where you can look up all the parks. How many has your family visited? Where do you want to visit the most? Will you camp or stay at the lodges?

Here’s our list for most of the parks we have visited. You can search by state on this link.

8 out of 10

Georgia

Andersonville National Historic Site GA
Y Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area GA
Y Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park GA
Y Cumberland Island National Seashore GA
Y Fort Frederica National Monument GA
Y Fort Pulaski National Monument GA
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site GA
Y Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park GA
Y Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site GA
Y Ocmulgee National Monument GA

11 of 22

Arizona

Y Canyon De Chelly National Monument AZ
Y Casa Grande Ruins National Monument AZ
Chiricahua National Monument AZ
Coronado National Memorial AZ
Fort Bowie National Historic Site AZ
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area AZ
Y Grand Canyon National Park AZ
Hohokam Pima National Monument AZ
Y Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site AZ
Y Montezuma Castle National Monument AZ
Navajo National Monument AZ
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument AZ
Y Petrified Forest National Park AZ
Pipe Spring National Monument AZ
Rainbow Bridge National Monument AZ
Saguaro National Park AZ
Y Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument AZ
Tonto National Monument AZ
Y Tumacacori National Historical Park AZ
Y Tuzigoot National Monument
Y Walnut Canyon National Monument AZ
Y Wupatki National Monument

10 out of 27

California

Y *Alcatraz Island CA
Cabrillo National Monument CA
César E. Chávez National Monument CA
Y * Channel Islands National Park CA
Death Valley National Park CA
Devils Postpile National Monument CA
Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site CA
Fort Point National Historic Site CA
Y Golden Gate National Recreation Area CA
Y John Muir National Historic Site CA
Y Joshua Tree National Park CA
Y Kings Canyon National Park CA
Lassen Volcanic National Park CA
Lava Beds National Monument CA
Manzanar National Historic Site CA
Mojave National Preserve CA
Y Muir Woods National Monument CA
Pinnacles National Park CA
Point Reyes National Seashore CA
Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
Redwood National Park CA
Rosie the Riveter WWII / Home Front National Historical Park CA
Y San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park CA
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area CA
Y Sequoia National Park CA
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area CA
Y Yosemite National Park
Park State
2 out of 15

New Mexico

Aztec Ruins National Monument

NM
Bandelier National Monument NM
Capulin Volcano National Monument NM
Carlsbad Caverns National Park NM
Chaco Culture National Historical Park NM
El Malpais National Monument NM
El Morro National Monument NM
Fort Union National Monument NM
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument NM
Old Spanish National Historic Trail NM
Pecos National Historical Park NM
Petroglyph National Monument NM
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument NM
Y Santa Fe National Historic Trail NM
Y White Sands National Monument NM
1

Utah

Arches National Park

UT
Bryce Canyon National Park UT
Canyonlands National Park UT
Capitol Reef National Park UT
Cedar Breaks National Monument UT
Golden Spike National Historic Site UT
Natural Bridges National Monument UT
Timpanogos Cave National Monument UT
Hitting this summer — Zion National Park UT

Monument Valley is not listed but is run by the Navajos with the National Park Service – We have been there.

8 out of 17

Washington D.C.

Park

State

African American Civil War Memorial DC
Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site DC
Constitution Gardens DC
Y Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site DC
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial DC
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site DC
Korean War Veterans Memorial DC
Y Lincoln Memorial DC
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial DC
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site DC
Y National Capital Parks DC
Y Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site DC
Rock Creek Park DC
Y The White House and Presidents Park DC
Y Thomas Jefferson Memorial DC
Y Vietnam Veterans Memorial DC
Y Washington Monument DC
World War II Memorial DC

1 out of 7

Hawaii

Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail HI
Haleakala National Park HI
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park HI
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park HI
Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site HI
Pu`uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park HI
Y World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument HI

2 out of 6

Tennessee

Y Andrew Johnson National Historic Site TN
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area TN
Fort Donelson National Battlefield TN
Y Great Smoky Mountains National Park TN
Shiloh National Military Park TN
Stones River National Battlefield

2 out of 7

Arkansas

Arkansas Post National Memorial AR
Buffalo National River AR
Fort Smith National Historic Site AR
Hot Springs National Park AR
Y Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site AR
Pea Ridge National Military Park AR
Y President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site AR

Louisiana

Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Heritage Area LA
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park & Preserve LA
Y New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park LA
Poverty Point National Monument LA

17 comments Add your comment

DB

April 22nd, 2013
2:40 am

T, do you or your kids have the Passport to the National Parks? Since you enjoy keeping track of where you’ve visited, etc., I hope you have one! For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a small dark blue book: http://passport.eparks.com/store/product/22515/%2APassport%C2%AE-To-Your-National-Parks%2A/ You can collect free dated stamps from all the National sites, as an inexpensive souvenier of places you have visited, and when. My kids each got one when they were 6 and 8, and they still have them 16 years later, almost filled up! If they forget to bring their book, they still collect the stamps, and then bring them home and glue them into the book. :-) We’ve hit a LOT of parks in the last 20-some years, from Acadia in Maine to Crater Lake in Oregon, from Grand Portage, MN to the Everglades, and up and down California, from Death Valley to Muir Woods, and dozens and dozens inbetween. I’ve lost county — I should sit down and check ‘em off, just out of curiosity! In the last 10 years, I’ve started collecting Christmas ornaments from the parks that we visit, and now have a separate tree just for the traveling we’ve done. I can’t wait until we’re 62 and can buy a lifetime pass for $10 — best value in the world!!! These parks do so much to help you appreciate the variety and beauty that is America.

catlady

April 22nd, 2013
5:47 am

I’vebeen to about 15 of them. But I know very very few of my students have been to any, except maybe the Smokies. Quite a few of the kids I teach have never Ben to Atlanta, or a mall.

motherjanegoose

April 22nd, 2013
6:25 am

Looks like fun! I have been to 15. I want to fly to Ca and drive the coast in August. We want to swing over to Yosemite. I also may be going back to Utah and should visit a few there! Enjoy!

FCM

April 22nd, 2013
7:17 am

We are not much of parks family…unless it is the amusement park. Not sure why.

TWG…I love the family photo.

Mother of 2

April 22nd, 2013
7:25 am

Sadly, this week we simply do not have the time to go to one of the parks. We try to hit a different one every summer though and I highly recommend them.

rbd

April 22nd, 2013
7:33 am

I have the National Parks Passport. Some of my favorite parks are in Utah. Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Arches.

Me

April 22nd, 2013
7:43 am

We’ve been to none — just isn’t something that holds interest for us.

LeeH1

April 22nd, 2013
7:45 am

National parks are also a way of reinforcing what it is to be American. Not only are they based on history, but also on geology, transportation, and geography. They show what it is to be American. The national parks are diverse, and can teach both adults and children many of the different landscapes and history that eventually bring us all together.

America is a great nation made up of many cultures, traditions and different country sides. There is nothing like the Painted Desert or the Grand Tetons in Georgia. You can stay in Georgia all your life if you want. But to be truely American, you need to see the many different parts. The National Parks are a great invitiation to the magesty of our country.

Techmom

April 22nd, 2013
8:15 am

Anyone who thinks National Parks aren’t for you or your family ought to give it a shot. Even if you aren’t the camping type, there are ways to visit without staying in a tent! I have to admit though that the national parks in Ga are a bit of a let down compared to those out west. I’m dying to take a long trip out west to visit all the parks I went to as a kid. Zion in Utah and Yosemite in California were favorites growing up.

We went to Yellowstone in February and saw it via snowmobile. “Absolutely one of the best trips we’ve ever taken” said the 17-year old boy. It was gorgeous and snowmobiles make it fun!

Sk8ing Momma

April 22nd, 2013
8:38 am

Teresa ~ You’ve covered lots of ground with your family…How fun!

We aren’t going anywhere this week; but last summer we took in the following during our cross country train trek from Atlanta to Portland, OR:

The Badlands
Mount Rushmore
Glacier National Park

We had an AWESOME time!

cobbmom

April 22nd, 2013
9:26 am

Last summer we went to the St. Louis Arch, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, Rushmore, Crazy Horse (not a National Park), Glacier, Banff and Jasper in Canada, Denali, Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon. We drove through the Navajo reservation instead of the interstate on the way home. I strongly suggest an RV. If you don’t own one, rent one. We started our trip in early June and played in the snow in Yellowstone. Our first two days it was freezing. We also saw numerous grizzly and black bears within the park and the bison have become quite prolific so an RV provides more comfort and a built in bathroom for three children.

Erin

April 22nd, 2013
9:37 am

You should DEFINITELY try to go to the Carlsbad Caverns … it’s relatively close-by since you’re in Arizona now. “Close-by” being a relative term, of course.

FCM

April 22nd, 2013
10:24 am

@ Techmom I still get into American History with my kids…but more in visting a place…Plymouth, San Francisco, Savannah.

Probably we don’t do much b/c I am not at all a big nature girl. I do not being in the woods and stumbling across animals. When we took school field trips to the Chattahochee Nature Reserve I used to beg my parents to let me stay home. My idea of wild life is Buckhead on a Saturday night (and I avoid that mostly too).

Techmom

April 22nd, 2013
11:14 am

@FCM – I agree you can definitely get in a lot of American history without camping (D.C. is awesome for that) but there really are some great national parks out there. Of course I’m a big nature and outdoor person so I get more excited about going to a nature park than an amusement park :)

Georgia

April 22nd, 2013
12:10 pm

Before you plan a camping trip to a national park, make sure that park is not on the list of parks that have been targeted by picnic basket thieves. There are currently two individuals who are actively stealing picnic baskets in big sky country out west, around Yosemite, but also at Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Grand Canyon. Be sure to consult with your local forest ranger for details.

FCM

April 22nd, 2013
12:30 pm

@ Georgia is one wearing a blue bow tie and the other a green necktie? I understand they have been lifting pic-a-nic baskets and making Ranger Smith crazy for decades. Ofcourse that was at Jellystone, but they may have relocated.

:)

Ann

April 22nd, 2013
12:46 pm

We visit parks for hiking or biking just about every weekend when the weather is nice (in the Spring before it gets too hot and in the Fall). My 8 year old has never been interested in amusement park rides, after he tried a few when he was younger. But, give him a nature trail, creek to play in, or a pond to skip rocks, and he’s happy as a clam.

If you don’t think you have time to vist a national park this week, there are a couple of gorgeous spots in Metro Atlanta at the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. One is Sope Creek, off Paper Mill Road in East Cobb. If you take one of the trails from the parking lot that heads down to the creek, it is a beautiful place to hang out on the rocks of the creek (it’s a big creek). The hike down is less than a half hour walk. Also, another lovely local place to hike that a lot of people don’t know about can be accessed in downtown Roswell at the Mill. Old Mill Park has a covered bridge that goes over Vickery Creek. There’s a waterfall, old mill ruins and trails that connect with the Chattahoochee park system. Once back there, you will not hear any city sounds and you will feel like you are in the mountains, yet you are right in Roswell.

Thanks DB for the suggestion about the passport. We’ll get one, as my son loves that kind of thing.

A great book series for kids that covers the National Parks is “Adventures with the Parkers”. We stumbled across a few of them at our local library. The author is Mike Graf, a national park fanatic and a former weathercaster and elementary school teacher. One that my son just read was “Grand Canyon National Park: Tail of the Scorpion (Adventures with the Parkers).” The books are fictional stories about a family that visits one or more National Parks (and their adventures) and he mixes in a lot of factual information about the parks, the geology, etc. He adds in photos, maps, sketches. I think he has about 15 books in the series now. They are terrific books, whether or not you are going on a trip to that particular park. I think the author has also written some non-fiction books about the parks, but his particular series is fiction mixed with non-fiction.