I have to confess to how many of America’s national parks remain on my to-visit list. But I still have some favorites among the ones I’ve explored. They don’t have to be massive to still be impressive.
- Rainier, Washington: Most of all. It’s top of the list for reasons I’ve described elsewhere on this blog. Living a few hours away, I had four years of exposure to this glacier-clad beauty and its forests below.
- North Cascades, Washington: Geologically some of the most incredible mountains in the continental U.S., along with rewarding hiking and camping. Some of our best beat-era poets were forest fire lookouts on its remote summits in the ’50s and ’60s.
- Smokey Mountains, Tennessee-North Carolina: I was nine or ten or so when we ventured down from Ohio. We weren’t yet doing family-camping, but there were some wild experiences with cheap motels. But then, when we got to the park, how could I not be blown away? So this is what mountains were!
- Lowell, Massachusetts: I’ve blogged about our daytrip to this pioneering industrial community and its water-powered textile mills. Try to time it so you can also take a ride down the canals through the mills and out to the Merrimack River.
- Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio: This meandering swath of greenery along the Cuyahoga River in the former Connecticut Western Reserve corner of the Buckeye State is a touch of sanity within a populous region. It even includes some decent waterfalls. The Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home is nearby.
- Acadia, Maine: The rugged Downeast coastline starts here, more or less, and there’s nowhere else so much of it is available to the public.
- Olympic, Washington: It’s the heart of a unique realm worthy of a Tendril of its own, as well as a longpoem you can get at my Thistle Finch blog.
- Mammoth Cave, Kentucky: The world’s longest known cave system, only part of it is open to public tours, but what is shown includes spectacular geologic formations and chambers.
- Crater Lake, Oregon: It’s impressive but usually seen as an auto circuit around the volcanic crater of what was once mighty Mount Mazama. The lake sits at 6,178 feet above sea level.
- Everglades, Florida: To appreciate this ecological system, you need to take a guided boat tour into its vegetation and zoological wonders. This is the real Florida, almost surreal. Well, compared to much of the commercial development throughout the state, maybe a better adjective is needed.
There are many more, awaiting personal discovery. So what are your favorites?