United States National Parks


I love to travel and explore new places and I love the outdoors. I am also a naturally frugal person, so road trips and a lot of hiking are ways that I can accomplish these goals. I believe on spending on experiences rather than things, so we try to do multiple vacations each year. We decided to see how many of the National Parks we could hit while we still have kids at home. With Covid, we felt this is easier and safer to do than other types of vacations as well.

We are a family of six, so staying at a hotel room often means two rooms and double the cost. Generally we either camp, take our father-in-law’s truck and camper trailer, or find an Airbnb. Occasionally we do stay in hotels, if we can find a two bedroom condo style that doesn’t break the bank. Being frugal also means we do a lot of driving vacations (we also do occasional flying vacations when we find a good deal on airfare to a place we want to go).

The first National Park, Yellowstone National Park, was created in 1872. It wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow created the National Parks Service to “promote and regulate the use” of these parks. Today there are 63 National Parks, but more than 400 areas in the National Parks System (over 84 million acres). If we visit 2 per year for the next ten years we will visit about 2/3 of the parks (since we are counting one we’ve already been to).

Which National Parks have we already visited (sorted by date visited):

  • Hawaii Volcanoes (Apr 2021)
  • Death Valley (Dec 2020)
  • Great Smoky Mountains (Oct 2020)
  • Great Basin (Aug 2020)
  • Arches (2018 – with scouts)
  • Haleakala (Oct 2018)
  • Canyonlands (2017)
  • Bryce Canyon (2016)
  • Crater Lake (2015)
  • Virgin Islands (2015)
  • Capitol Reef (2014)
  • Glacier Bay (2013)
  • Glacier (2013)
  • Yellowstone (2012)
  • Grant Teton (2012)
  • Arches (2012)
  • Zion (2011)
  • Grand Canyon (2010)
  • Redwood (2007)
  • Mesa Verde (2003)
  • Grand Teton (1999)

The National Parks Service just recently released a mobile app where you can download information for any of the national parks (including maps). This app looks very promising as the go to place for park information, but it came out after our last trip so I haven’t put it to the test yet.

What’s next on our list? Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park (2021) – see our travel plan.

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