Getting to Yellowstone this summer put us HALFWAY to our National Parks Goal. For those who do not know, last year Kenon and I set a goal to see all 48 of the National Parks in the contiguous 48 states by the time I turn 30. This gives us 4 summers to get it all in. One summer in the books, three to go!
It was appropriate that Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, would be our middle point. We did not plan it this way, but since we had to skip a couple parks due to weather earlier in the summer, it just ended up like that. To celebrate our halfway mark in this historical recreation area was more than I could have asked for. It was my first time at Yellowstone and I honestly did not know how much I would fall in love with it. It is abundantly obvious how Yellowstone captured the hearts of Teddy Roosevelt and our nation, spurring on protected lands all over the world.
We have learned so much along the way and met so many incredible people. One of the most encouraging things I have heard on this journey came from my brother-in-law. He said that Kenon and I were growing a bigger community through our travels. And it’s true! Our “community” now stretches across the United States as we meet new people and make an effort to actually keep in touch. Thank you to all the new and old friends with whom we have spent time in these parks.
John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt had a dream to protect these spaces so that everyone could have a chance to experience them. Yes, the parks get overcrowded. But it has taught me something important about sharing space. There are places in the national parks, particularly the backcountry and the designated wilderness, where people can be completely alone. The most beautiful places, though, are the places that draw the largest crowds. We gather at the grandest, most heart-stopping views. I could be forever upset that someone is getting into my space. Or I can embrace that there are so many wonderful, seeking souls with whom to share this moment. The rocky and unstable ground of National Park hiking trails have a way of putting us all on even footing. Enjoying the people of the parks has been one of my favorite things about this journey.
People often ask us, “Which one is your favorite?” Picking a favorite national park is like picking a favorite student in my classroom. Sure, we have ones that we get along with better, but each one is so unique. I have also been asked, “Which one has been the most surprising?” This is a little easier to answer.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is my most surprising park. I really had no expectation for what it would look like. The sheer rock faces, the dark color, and the scarred texture took my breath away. It feels so untouchable, which adds to it’s stunning vibe.
Kenon’s is Isle Royale National Park, an island in Lake Superior. Taking a ferry through freezing cold wind and water temperatures to a forested paradise was unlike anything else. Isle Royale is wild, quiet, and uncrowded.
This winter we’re heading to Joshua Tree National Park and Channel Islands National Park. Summer 2019 we’re roadtripping through Lassen Volcanic, Redwood, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades. We’ll also fit in anything else that we can. We do an overview for every park along with must-know tips. We focus it on the things we wish we would have known while planning, the things that are difficult to find or nonexistent online. Follow our blog, Instragram, and Pinterest for all the latest! Thanks for traveling with us.