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Favorite National Park ?


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23 replies to this topic

#1 of 24 OFFLINE   Jim Mcc

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Posted August 27 2008 - 07:48 PM

What's your favorite national park, and why? We're thinking about doing a vacation next summer to one or more national parks.

#2 of 24 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted August 27 2008 - 11:06 PM

Definately Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. My son and I hiked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon last year and spent the night at the Phantom Ranch. A great time. But if you aren't the type to venture below the rim, it's not too exciting. A couple years ago we went to Yellowstone. That place is absolutely other-worldly. Just beatutiful. Whatever National Park you decide to visit, book WAY ahead and stay inside the park at one of the lodges. At the Grand Canyon, we've stayed at stayed at the El Tovar and the Kachina lodge, both sit at the edge of the south rim. At Yellowstone we stayed at Old Faithful Snow Lodge (the historic Old Faithful Inn was booked up). Next year we are driving to Yellowstone and Glacier. Never been to Glacier, but it looks beautiful.

#3 of 24 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted August 27 2008 - 11:39 PM

Wrangell St. Elias. I liked it better than Denali Nat Park because there are way way way less people and there are 4 mountain ranges all sandwiched together and since there are no trails, no ammenities other than the 2 towns to access the interior, it's all wilderness and solitude and no people. I did a 9 day fly-in backcountry trip near a peak called Wolverine and had an absolute blast. Never saw another soul, except for the occasional cessna of probably more backcountry fanatics flying in or out. And it's beautiful as all hell.

Probably doesn't appeal to the normal tourist though. Posted Image

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#4 of 24 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted August 28 2008 - 12:00 AM

Yellowstone. I've been there four times, and would go every year if I had the time. I love the diversity of things to see and do. This is probably the best place in the country to see large mammals up close. There is an abundance of great hiking trails for all skill levels. The geothermal areas are very unique, and the mountains offer some great landscape views. You can see photos from our trip in 2007 here.

We love the national parks, and have visited quite a few in the U.S. and Canada -- some more than once. Off the top of my head, we've been to:

Yellowstone - four times
Acadia - twice
Glacier (Montana)
Glacier Bay (Alaska)
Denali
Misty Fjords (Alaska)
Smoky Mountains - three times
Mount Haleakala (Hawaii) - twice
Volcano (Hawaii) - twice
Badlands
Mount Rushmore National Monument
Cape Breton (Nova Scotia)
Banff (Alberta)
Jasper (Alberta)
Yoho (Alberta)
Waterton (Alberta)

Our next trip will probably be to the parks in Utah (Bryce, Zion, etc.) and The Grand Canyon. We still need to get to Yosemite, too, and more of the parks in Alaska.


You'll love Glacier, Bryan. The views are incredible. Try to stay in Many Glacier Hotel for at least a couple of nights. That area is spectacular.

#5 of 24 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted August 28 2008 - 12:04 AM

Bryce and Zion are awesome parks too, I found Bryce, although smaller than Zion, really spectacular for their colors and if you're into Photography. Actually, I'd like to check out the Grand Staircase Escalante area, a kind of hidden gem and Arches too... Jay
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#6 of 24 OFFLINE   Hugh Jackes

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Posted August 28 2008 - 01:20 AM

I adore Yosemite, and staying at Curry Village. Go during the week and the crowds are much reduced. My son and I hiked up Half Dome this summer. Very strenuous, very scarifying (the cables), and a view beyond belief.
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#7 of 24 OFFLINE   Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

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Posted August 28 2008 - 01:35 AM

I found Zion to be awe-inspiring. It was great to be there in January, with a dusting of snow setting off the reds of the stone in gorgeous contrast. Also, almost no one else was there; it was just me, the mule deer, and the potential pumas around every corner. No, I never saw one, but it was exciting to hike alone.
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#8 of 24 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted August 28 2008 - 04:03 AM

It drives me nuts to visit national parks that are packed to the gills with people so I always visit in the off season. I'm spoiled now as I'm surrounded by great places like Mt. Rainer, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks that you can pretty much count on being empty outside of the summer months. Growing up in Michigan I made annual pilgrimages to Isle Royale National Park which is about as far off the beaten path as you can get. Listening to the wolves at night was awesome.
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#9 of 24 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted August 28 2008 - 04:17 AM

I've lived my entire life here in Michigan, and I've still not visited the state's only national park. One of these days...

#10 of 24 OFFLINE   Steve_Tk

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Posted August 28 2008 - 07:21 AM

Scott, and plans for Jackson Hole or Grand Tetons (Jenny lake)? By the way, great pictures. What camera do you use?

#11 of 24 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted August 28 2008 - 08:12 AM


Steve, actually, we've been to the Grand Tetons during three of our Yellowstone trips. I just forgot to list it -- the park is so close to Yellowstone that I sometimes forget it's a separate park. Posted Image Unfortunately, we didn't go down to the Tetons during our Yellowstone trip last year, so I do not have any Teton photos in my online gallery. We decided to take a day trip out the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone to the Bear Tooth Highway instead.

Thanks for the comments on the photos. I'm currently using a Canon 40D dSLR, but had an older Canon Digital Rebel XT dSLR when we were in Yellowstone last year.

#12 of 24 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 28 2008 - 11:00 AM

I'm not saying a thing. Jim, if you want to hit multiple parks in a single trip, southern Utah is the place to go. I doubt you can find so many vastly different landscapes in such a close area anywhere else on earth. Zion, Arches, Capital Reef, so on, See them all.

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#13 of 24 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted August 28 2008 - 01:37 PM

It's certainly not an easy place to get to. I spent my summers in Brimley up near the Soo and it still took forever to travel to Isle Royale. Well worth the trip though.
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#14 of 24 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted August 28 2008 - 01:49 PM

Jim,

Where do you live? How would you get there? Are you well-off enough to fly and drive, or would you have to drive from home?

My favorite NP is Yosemite, although I have a bias. My family has been going to Yosemite since the 1800s. Other CA NPs are more reflective, pensive, and less spectacular: Redwood NP, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP. What do you want?

In many ways, people miss out too much by focussing on the NPs. To compare with music recordings, the NPs consist of "greatest hits" recordings. Much of the public lands around the NPs are pretty much as spectacular as the NP itself, and they are far less crowded.

In Idaho, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is as spectacular as a NP, but isn't because of local opposition. The locals didn't want to lose hunting grounds used by their families for decades. Guns and hunting are banned in the NPs. Posted Image

An NP is subject to the ADA laws, which means handicap and auto access is mandatory. Idaho's "Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness" is possibly the most spectacular place in the lower 48, but don't expect do drive there and unpack your wheelchair to roll down a paved path. You must either hike in, pack in on horseback, or drift downriver on a raft.

I close with a shot I took last October of a non-NP about 2.5 hours drive from my home. To me it's a local park and it often has no other guests.

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#15 of 24 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted August 28 2008 - 01:51 PM

I almost talked my wife into staying on Isle Royale a few years ago, but we ended up going elsewhere. I've been up to Copper Harbor a few times, so I know how far it is to the ferry. However, it looks like it's not easy to get around once you get on the island -- you either have to hike everywhere or take very expensive water taxis. How did you get around on the island, Michael?

#16 of 24 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 28 2008 - 03:54 PM

Dennis is Right. National Parks are not the only place to go. I live less than an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park, and it is the last I would ever go anymore. Growing up it was a different thing, but no trips there anymore, except in winter.

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#17 of 24 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted August 29 2008 - 05:01 AM

When I was a kid we always hiked our way in and camped but if I were to go now I would probably rent one of the cottages. That way you're close to the few amenities and can rent a canoe to tool around in but it's by no stretch a luxurious place to stay.
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#18 of 24 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted August 29 2008 - 01:14 PM

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#19 of 24 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted August 29 2008 - 02:25 PM

I'm afraid if you want to visit the Kosciuszko National Park you'll have to go to Australia. Growing up in the Detroit area we were blessed with a lovely Gen.Thaddeus Kosciuszko statue to gaze upon.
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#20 of 24 OFFLINE   Jim Mcc

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Posted August 29 2008 - 02:45 PM

Thanks everyone for some great ideas. We've been to Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Badlands. Are there any national parks you guys didn't like?




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