A 2015 Anniversary Prompts Summer Return to America’s Best Idea, US National Parks

This past year, I visited Glacier Bay National Park on board a Holland America cruise ship. Incredible.

entering Glacier Bay on board the Holland America Westerdam

entering Glacier Bay on board Holland America ms Westerdam

And talking to the National Park Rangers on the observation deck when we entered the park by ship was a real treat. Their knowledge and appreciation for landscape left an impression, as did Alaska. America holds tremendous beauty, and it is time for me to once again experience its “best idea,” its National Parks.

A 20th Year Anniversary National Park Tour

The year 2015 (Happy New Year) marks the 20th anniversary of my post collegiate cross-country adventure. When many of my friends were busy interviewing for the “real” world or even already starting jobs, one friend and I decided to discover America. We took eight weeks and drove across the United States (and back).

The dream all began one day when we visited our college library. We took down a map of the Unites States to make a long list of places we’d visit (remember there was, no Google, no travel bloggers, no Twitter, no GPS, etc…; it was a different era). Then we spent the summer connecting the dots and destinations.

image from the 1995 cross country adventure and the stop at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

A must stop - The Grand Canyon

As two young Villanova University alumni we drove across America. Our travels stopped in cities, we visited distant family relatives, made many new friends, and we also essentially discovered our National Park System.

US National Parks

inside Zion National Park, Utah, USA

Source: Sol Fit Adventures - Inside Zion National Park, Utah

Both growing up outside of New York, we were not familiar with our National Parks. Not familiar with the breadth and beauty of our country’s landscape, but these places would leave the greatest impression on us (at least me) from our travels. From our first major park in South Dakota – Badlands National Park to the famous park’s such as Yellow Stone and the Grand Canyon, and even the lesser known places such as Jewel Cave we visited nearly a dozen National Park properties (parks, monuments, recreation areas, etc…) on our adventure.

Yet, we missed more than a few based on our route. (We took I-90 across the top and then I-10 back along the bottom.) We missed much of the center of our country and missed many of the National Parks found inside. Parks I still want to visit today. So this summer, on the 20th anniversary adventure, I plan to make a journey west again. This time the plan is to visit a few more of the National Park missed on my prior adventures.  Which ones? Well this summer, my eyes are locked in on Utah and a visit Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park

a view of Byrce Canyon, Naitonal Park, Utah

source: Sol Fit Adventures - Bryce Canyon

How to visit National Parks?

My travels this summer will be much different from my adventures from 20 years ago, but I plan to make new memories and once again immerse myself in the beauty found in America’s Best idea.

1995 image of cross country travel, tent is up before sunset

tent up just in time to celebrate the sunset

Living far away from the US National Parks, as most of us do, the only way to visit is on a road trip. Twenty years ago, I drove a small Honda Civic and then pitched a tent inside the camp grounds provided at US National Parks and I may just rent a car and acquire some tent gear once again.

Or maybe I’ll try another approach and rent an RV through USA RV rentals with RVRentalNetwork to travel across the west in a motor home. It may be time to experience the “RV lifestyle” for more than a college football tailgate. It is definitely an option and would be quite the adventure.

the RV driving through America's National Parks

source: RVRentaCamperVan

Either way, I know I’ll ask my friend, Melanie at Sol Fit Adventures (source of photographs from Zion and Arches) for her advice on Utah since she knows it so well.

Visiting the National Parks again will be an adventure. Twenty years ago, I wanted to see America before I traveled across the world; I wanted to know my country first. Now after seeing so much of the world through the last twenty years, I am planning to return the National Parks. Yes, it is time to once again discover America and its best idea – our National Parks.

walking the South Dakota Badlands National Park in 1995,

the Badlands in 1995

Stay adventurous, Craig

This post is part of my new series and category on National Park travel.

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