5 National Parks I’m Most Looking Forward to Seeing

Previously: 5 Stadiums I’m Most Looking Forward to Seeing, 5 Stadiums I’m Most Looking Forward to Seeing… Again

30 Stadiums in 60 days is the driving force behind the trip, but that’s not all I’ll be seeing.  Here are the five national parks I’m most looking forward to seeing.

5. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Credit: Theo Crazzolara

I’m hopeful there will still be some snow atop Lassen Peak when I arrive in mid-July.  Several hiking trails – including hiking a volcano! – should highlight a day and a half in Lassen.

4. Badlands National Park

Credit: tsaiproject

Badlands, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore, Deadwood and Devil’s Tower.  Collectively, there’s not much I’m more excited about on the trip.  Individually, Badlands makes the list.  We will probably only get about a day and a half at Badlands, unfortunately, as we make our way from Minneapolis to Seattle in a short three and a half days. However, I’m already looking forward to seeing the sunset on the striped South Dakota hills.

3. White Sands National Monument

Credit: Murray Foubister

One of the little secrets about the NPS is that the Parks that get all the headlines aren’t the only show in town. National monuments, seashores, etc. often get overlooked but can be just as amazing.  White Sands National Monument in New Mexico will be one of the stops on the ride between Phoenix and Houston (preceded by a half day stop in Sagauro National Park and succeeded by a stop in Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountain, and, eventually, Austin).

2. Crater Lake National Park

Credit: Thomas Shahan

Crater Lake is not one of the biggest national parks, but it seems to be one of the most revered. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed by a collapsed volcano almost 8,000 years ago. In mid-July, much of the snow will be gone, but I’m hoping there’s still a bit out there.

1. Olympic National Park

Credit: Ralph Arvesen

I’m so looking forward to Olympic National Park that I’m probably going to skip Mount Rainier, just so I can get an extra day in Olympic.  The rainforest, the Pacific Ocean, the waterfalls and hot springs… I suspect 3 days won’t even scratch the surface of a park this big. I’ve only just begun to map out all I’d like to do and see in Olympic and it is pretty overwhelming. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

While I may be rushing through some of these parks, I tend to be a little aggressive in my hiking trips. Sleep can wait if it means getting in a couple dozen miles of hiking and some sunset shots like the one I got at Yosemite last summer:

Lower Cathedral Lake at sunset in Yosemite. August, 2016. (C) Tom Ward

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