Many people ask Tom and me, “How did you come up with your goal to visit all 59 National Parks?” Before I answer that question I am compelled to answer the next two questions which are, “Does this include monuments and seashores?” and “Do you have any rules?”
The goal only includes the 59 National Parks. The Park Service manages 391 sites – too many for us to visit. The rules are fairly simple. To count a Park we must spend time in and enjoy the Park together - no drive in and out. (And, we must get an official stamp in my National Park Passport book.) Tom and I got together as older adults and have both visited Parks on our own. So, if we both haven’t been to the Park together, it does not count. One of us has to go again.
Now back to the original question, “How did we come up with this goal?”. We were both intrigued by Ken Burns Documentary about the National Parks formation. It’s incredible to me how our land has changed so much in the last 150 years due to settlement and industrialization. Some special visionaries had the foresight, long before environmentalism, to save the most unique natural, geological and cultural wonders for all of us to continue to enjoy. We both love the outdoors and nature so we found ourselves especially drawn to these cherished and preserved wonders!
In addition, my family has the good fortune of owning a small condo at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort - at the northern entrance to Mt Rainer National Park. We get to enjoy this spectacular place often for hiking and cycling. Washingtonians can all see and enjoy “the mountain” from most anywhere in the State. Knowing that there are 58 comparable places out there, we just had to go see them. We began with Yosemite, one of the most historic. During this trip in May of 2010 is when we made our goal official.
I am a spreadsheet gal, so you can click here for a list of all 59 National Parks and when we have or will visit them. Also know that we like to give back to the National Parks through the National Park Foundation.