All Things National/State Parks Thread...

John Galt

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One of my favorite things to do on vacation is go to national and state parks. This summer I went to Yellowstone for the 1st time in 30 years and had forgot how amazing it was. Spent a day whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River, time in Lamar Valley watching the wildlife, and a few days on the western side seeing the hot springs.

Two parks I haven't been to that are on my bucket list are Acadia and Yosemite. What parks are your favorites, and which ones would you stay away from?
 

stocker08

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I love the Badlands. And not too far.
 

WilliamsArenaGuy

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Zion and Arches. Utah is awesome.

Also loved Carlsbad Caverns.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

John Galt

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Probably my least favorite national park has been the Great Smoky Mountains. The west entrance is Gatlinburg and Dollywood, which are like Wisconsin Dells on steroids. And the park was pretty much the same throughout, and so heavily wooded you could never really see anything.
 

saintpaulguy

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Try Yellowstone in winter. Snowmobile tour, it is really awesome. Wildlife viewing easier.

Yosemite is breathtaking and crowded.

My favorite is Rocky Mountain National, just because a high alpine environment is very different from here.
 


Bad Gopher

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Out of the way and underrated: Olympic NP. Three biomes including one of the few temperate rain forests in the world.
 

John Galt

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Zion and Arches. Utah is awesome.

Also loved Carlsbad Caverns.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Agree on southern Utah. We did Zion and Bryce Canyon a few years ago - Zion is one my all-time favorites. Arches and Canyonlands are also amazing on the other end of the state. I made the mistake of trying to order a beer w/o food in Moab.
 

mplarson7

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Yellowstone is my favorite park, and I second doing a snowmobile tour in the winter. Tons of wildlife sightings, no crowds at all. When my family did this, we were the only ones to sit and watch Old Faithful erupt.

Along with Yellowstone, Grand Tetons NP is great for mountain lovers.

Rocky Mountain NP is awesome but very popular and busy. Spectacular views around every corner.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado, very scenic and doesn't take very long to circumvent.

Mesa Verde NP in Colorado is pretty cool, city ruins of the cliff-dwelling Native Americans.

I also love Glacier NP in Montana, absolutely beautiful. Going to the Sun Road is an experience I can't even put words to.

Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho I highly recommend. Lots of great areas to walk around and several lava tubes you can tour. Dress warm for those though, it'll be 50 degrees max inside, even in the middle of winter.

Crater Lake in Oregon is very cool. Doesn't take very long to do the loop around it.

Columbia River Gorge in Oregon...designated as a national scenic area instead of a park, but if you do a road trip to Oregon, this is an amazing way to start off the trip.

California Redwoods, of course. Lots of easy walking through there.

Wakulla Springs State Park around Tallahassee is pretty fun and doesn't take a lot of time. Lots of gator and manatee sightings.


A lot more I can probably recommend, but I would have to sit and think about it for awhile.
 
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Bad Gopher

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Going to the Sun Road is an experience I can't even put words to.

Visited in the summer of '17 (my second time there), and going eastbound west of the summit, looking out the window, it does feel like you're floating up into the clouds. It's the closest thing to levitation I've ever experienced. Feels like it must be for an eagle or buzzard to float on an updraft.
 



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My sister lives in Billings, MT. and she would rather take the 7 hour drive to Glacier than the sub 2 hour drive to Yellowstone.
 

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I've always had a soft spot for Glacier National Park. Don't go in July though.

Going to Utah this summer (Canoeing the Green River) and hitting all of the Zion/Moab/etc. sites. Can't wait.

Bad Lands (SD) are cool if you actually spend more than a day there.

Really, really want to go to Big Bend before I get too old.
 

GophersInIowa

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I've been to Yellowstone but not Glacier. My wife and I have talked about going. Those that have been, do you have a suggestion as to when to go to avoid the big crowds? I was thinking September after schools have started. May is another option but I feel like there could still be a lot of snow.
 

mplarson7

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I've been to Yellowstone but not Glacier. My wife and I have talked about going. Those that have been, do you have a suggestion as to when to go to avoid the big crowds? I was thinking September after schools have started. May is another option but I feel like there could still be a lot of snow.

We would usually go in mid/late August. A lot of states start school before then, so the crowd thins out a fair amount.
 



Section2

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One of my favorite things to do on vacation is go to national and state parks. This summer I went to Yellowstone for the 1st time in 30 years and had forgot how amazing it was. Spent a day whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River, time in Lamar Valley watching the wildlife, and a few days on the western side seeing the hot springs.

Two parks I haven't been to that are on my bucket list are Acadia and Yosemite. What parks are your favorites, and which ones would you stay away from?

I did the exact same, and probably about 25-30 years since I last went, whitewater rafting was my highlight, and lamar valley was unreal.
 

John Galt

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I've been to Yellowstone but not Glacier. My wife and I have talked about going. Those that have been, do you have a suggestion as to when to go to avoid the big crowds? I was thinking September after schools have started. May is another option but I feel like there could still be a lot of snow.

I would recommend staying inside the park so you aren't driving as much. They start taking reservations over a year in advance and it fills up quickly. I made reservations in August and we went the following June. Even in June there were quite a few people, but it didn't feel overly crowded to me.
 

Bad Gopher

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We would usually go in mid/late August. A lot of states start school before then, so the crowd thins out a fair amount.

I couldn't agree more. I and my friends went in late July, and the crowds and transportation were a huge impediment to enjoying the experience. A good friend of mine (who co-founded the Glacier Park Foundation) tells me that there were more visitors to Glacier in July of '17 than to Yellowstone. The park just isn't adequate to accommodate that. I wonder if there needs to be some limitations to the number of visitors.

I would recommend staying inside the park so you aren't driving as much. They start taking reservations over a year in advance and it fills up quickly. I made reservations in August and we went the following June. Even in June there were quite a few people, but it didn't feel overly crowded to me.

We found a place just outside the park in West Glacier that I couldn't recommend more highly. If anyone wants more info about that, PM me.
 

Ogee Ogilthorpe

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Even though it’s right out my backyard and I ride my bike through it on training rides almost weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, it’s hard for me to recommend Lake Mead National Park. The lake is so far down, it’s totally depressing to look at the water lines on the rocks surrounding the lake.

I’d heard somewhere that they still operate under the water distribution allocations that were agreed upon like in the 40’s or something (I’m sure I’m butchering that, too lazy to look). Too much of the water goes to California, thus robbing Lake Mead and creating horrendously low lake levels.

Red Rock is nice, not sure how great.

As stated previously, Zion and Bryce Canyon are fantastic, and you can easily hit both in one day, depending on what you want to do at Zion and how much time you want to spend. You can spend a lot more time at Zion if you want.
 

denguegopher

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Even though it’s right out my backyard and I ride my bike through it on training rides almost weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, it’s hard for me to recommend Lake Mead National Park. The lake is so far down, it’s totally depressing to look at the water lines on the rocks surrounding the lake.

I’d heard somewhere that they still operate under the water distribution allocations that were agreed upon like in the 40’s or something (I’m sure I’m butchering that, too lazy to look). Too much of the water goes to California, thus robbing Lake Mead and creating horrendously low lake levels.

Red Rock is nice, not sure how great.

As stated previously, Zion and Bryce Canyon are fantastic, and you can easily hit both in one day, depending on what you want to do at Zion and how much time you want to spend. You can spend a lot more time at Zion if you want.

Ogee: I agree about Lake Mead. I've read that a part of the problem with the allocations is that they were made in an unusually "wet" decade or decades. Now everyone is saying that there is a drought, but it may actually just be normal precipitation when long term weather patterns are compared.
 

John Galt

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Even though it’s right out my backyard and I ride my bike through it on training rides almost weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, it’s hard for me to recommend Lake Mead National Park. The lake is so far down, it’s totally depressing to look at the water lines on the rocks surrounding the lake.

I’d heard somewhere that they still operate under the water distribution allocations that were agreed upon like in the 40’s or something (I’m sure I’m butchering that, too lazy to look). Too much of the water goes to California, thus robbing Lake Mead and creating horrendously low lake levels.

Red Rock is nice, not sure how great.

As stated previously, Zion and Bryce Canyon are fantastic, and you can easily hit both in one day, depending on what you want to do at Zion and how much time you want to spend. You can spend a lot more time at Zion if you want.

I spent 3 days at Zion and felt like it still wasn't enough. Could have easily made it 5 days.
 

saintpaulguy

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I’m going to put in a vote for Death Valley. It has to be experienced to be believed, if you are from a place that has water.
 

mplarson7

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Minute Man National Historical Park in Massachusetts is pretty cool...site of the first battle in the Revolutionary War. Kind of a surreal experience to walk around where our nation began.
 

jamiche

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Ditto in Badlands, Bryce and Zion. South Dakota is a highly underrated state in terms of scenery once you get west of the Missouri River.

I've never seen the Grand Canyon, which is crazy.

Our own BWCA is also a wonderful place, especially if you really want a complete separation from your daily life for a few days.

Our national park system is a jewel.
 

Section2

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I’m going to put in a vote for Death Valley. It has to be experienced to be believed, if you are from a place that has water.

A Clemson game? Seems like this post belongs on the football thread.
 

GophersInIowa

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I’m going to put in a vote for Death Valley. It has to be experienced to be believed, if you are from a place that has water.

There is a golf course there that is supposedly open year round. Would be interesting to try it during the summer.
 

jamiche

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I’m going to put in a vote for Death Valley. It has to be experienced to be believed, if you are from a place that has water.

I took a bike trip through Death Valley (in March) a few years ago. The desolate beauty was amazing.
 

saintpaulguy

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I took a bike trip through Death Valley (in March) a few years ago. The desolate beauty was amazing.

It is a 3.5 hour drive from Twenty Nine Palms to Death Valley, all of it on the moon.
 

Gopher07

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Did four days backpacking @ Isle Royale this summer. It was nice, saw moose, had some great scenery, very remote, but not sure I'd do it again. Juice wasn't quite worth the squeeze for me at least.

To the East, I love Acadia and would go back in a heartbeat. We made it even further up the coast to the Bay of Fundy (Lubec) and that scenery was one of a kind. Hiking along the Atlantic coast was once in a lifetime. To the West, Rainier was pretty spectacular as most things in that part of the country are. The whole Pac Northwest is a gem, next time I want to hit Olympic NP.
 
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tikited

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Did four days backpacking @ Isle Royale this summer. It was nice, saw moose, had some great scenery, very remote, but not sure I'd do it again. Juice wasn't quite worth the squeeze for me at least.

To the East, I love Acadia and would go back in a heartbeat. We made it even further up the coast to the Bay of Fundy (Lubec) and that scenery was one of a kind. Hiking along the Atlantic coast was once in a lifetime. To the West, Rainier was pretty spectacular as most things in that part of the country are. The whole Pac Northwest is a gem, next time I want to hit Olympic NP.


It will blow your mind.
 

mplarson7

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Alright, these 2 are going to be a little bit more out of the way than what the OP asked about, but here goes:

Denali NP-Excellent, but makes for a long day. We did the bus in/out on the same day, it was about 7 hours worth on the bus alone. BUT the views are amazing, and lots of wildlife. We got to watch a grizzly bear dig a hare or something out of a hole. We didn't get to see Denali unfortunately, it was cloudy that day.

Kenai Fjords-We did the fjord tour out of Seward. Was pretty rough and choppy (bring the dramamine), but all the bays and glaciers were spectacular.
 

John Galt

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This year we made it to 2 more: Acadia and Shenandoah. The Beehive Trail and Cadillac Mountain hikes in Acadia were both terrific. Shenandoah had beautiful views, but there wasn't much to do and the hiking was average.
 




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