When I lived in Yakima, Washington – like Joshua and Jaya in my new novel, Nearly Canaan – Mount Rainier was practically in our backyard, metaphorically, at least, and I got to explore it repeatedly, in all seasons. In addition, I camped in the Olympics and North Cascades national parks and visited Crater Lake in Oregon. I had already camped as a kid in the Great Smokies and at Mammoth Cave and have since probed the Everglades. I can attest that Acadia and the Cape Cod parks in Provincetown are prime New England. And Cuyahoga in Ohio was just to the west of a town where I lived and worked for four years after leaving the Pacific Northwest. Gateway Arch in St. Louis is another? Gee, this list of parks I’ve visited keeps growing.
Still, there’s a lot of stunning choices in the system I have yet to explore.
How many items are required for a bucket list, anyway? Ten or 20? Well, this is in my Tendrils category, so that settles it. These are all United States parks, by the way – an international list will have to wait.
- Grand Canyon, Arizona.
- Yes, in Montana.
- Yellowstone in its corner of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah.
- Grand Teton, Wyoming.
- Zion in Utah.
- With seven of the ten biggest parks, I’ll lump them all together in what could become yet another Bucket List. I’d definitely want to get to the Last Frontier by ferry from Seattle. Am I too old for a sleeping bag on the deck?
- Hawai’i Volcanos.
- Mesa Verde in Colorado. The Anasazi cliff dwellings, especially.
- Kings Canyon. Sequoia, Redwood, and Joshua Tree, all in California. I’d love to spend more time in the sequoia groves than I did passing through back in ’79.
- Calsbad Caverns, New Mexico.
What’s on yours?