Friday, January 11, 2013

the national park meme

So the Pinnacles, a weirdly eroded ancient volcanic lava plug a couple hours' drive south of here, has now been promoted from a national monument to a national park. The purpose of the change was to encourage tourism, actually. Foreign visitors in particular have never heard of national monuments, of which we have close to 100, many of them very small, but everyone knows what a national park is, and now the U.S. has 59 of them. (Not counting the 5 that have been decommissioned.) I thought, how about a list of them to check off which ones I've been to? These are arranged by (principal) state; underline indicates I've been there.

Alaska: Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Wrangell-St. Elias. Most of these are completely inaccessible by car (also true of several parks elsewhere); indeed, I have never set foot in Glacier Bay NP, but only explored it by boat, though we traversed its entire length.
Arizona: Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Saguaro. Just the south rim of Grand Canyon. I tried venturing down Bright Angel trail, but gave up quickly, because the burros had been there first.
Arkansas: Hot Springs. Possibly the most urban national park. I didn't see the springs, which I guess are mostly inside the bathing buildings, but I did drive to the top of the peak overlooking the town.
California: Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Sequoia, Yosemite. OK, then: taking a boat out to the Channel Islands clearly has to be my next adventure project.
Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain. Mesa Verde was one of the neatest places I visited in childhood.
Florida: Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, Everglades. Go now, while it's still there.
Hawaii: Haleakala, Hawai'i Volcanoes. And I've peered down into two calderas, though I entered neither.
Kentucky: Mammoth Cave.
Maine: Acadia.
Michigan: Isle Royale.
Minnesota: Voyageurs.
Montana: Glacier. Another one whose namesake feature is not likely to be there much longer.
Nevada: Great Basin.
New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns.
North Carolina and Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains.
North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt. Just his cabin in Medora: I didn't get out to the wilderness outlying units.
Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley. I must have been near it, but I don't think I've actually been in it.
Oregon: Crater Lake. And, perhaps unlike many visitors, I've also been on the island that's in the lake.
South Carolina: Congaree.
South Dakota: Badlands, Wind Cave.
Texas: Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains.
Utah: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion. I'd like to get to some more of these, too, someday. They're all accessible, just long drives.
Virginia: Shenandoah. Just passing through. Time was lacking to drive the parkway, which I regret.
Washington: Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic. The rain forest in Olympic is another one of those magical sights.
Wyoming: Grand Teton, Yellowstone. Yellowstone also extends slightly across the line into Montana and Idaho. I've been in the Montana part, but it requires a long back-country hike to reach the Idaho part.
External territories: American Samoa, Virgin Islands.

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