Wednesday, July 4, 2012

National Parks

Two artists who played a major role in the creation of the National Park Service, Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt.

Thomas Moran, Rainbow Over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Albert Bierstadt, Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Valley, in Winter

I haven't seen very many National Parks and Monuments.  What have I seen in my lifetime?  The Big Bend in Texas about 3 or 4 times, Padre Island National Seashore a few times, Capulin National Monument many times (was always on our route on the annual family road trip to Colorado), Mesa Verde a couple of times, Hovenweep National Monument in Utah (near Mesa Verde), Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park,  Chaco Canyon National Historic Park, El Morro National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Park (nothing Aztec about it except the name of the nearby town in New Mexico), Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Haleakala National Park in Hawaii with Michael (it was 90F on the beach and 30F with the wind blowing on top of the volcano; we could see the mountains on the Big Island covered with snow in the distance), Rocky Mountain National Park (I was too small to remember any of it), and that's about it.

Not that much.  I've never even seen Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas.

Parks and Monuments I'd love to see someday:  Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Glacier,  Crater Lake,  Hawaii Volcanoes, Grand Teton, Arches, Sequoia, Denali, Craters of the Moon,  and maybe some others.

I've always been a big fan of the National Park Service, even when it's been nickeled and dimed into squalor by Congress and the tax payers.  Ours was the first such service in the world, and the inspiration for all the others around the globe.  It stands with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as one of our greatest legacies to the world, and will remain such long after our empire has gone the way of all empires.  I'm amazed that there are Libertarian and other right wing ideologues who want to get rid of it.

I've always imagined spending my retirement (assuming that I will have one) traveling and sight seeing.  I imagine myself traveling the world to see all these major works of art and monuments that I've taught, written about, and thought about all my life.  I also imagine loading up the Winnebago and hitting the road like all those elderly folks we met on our family road trips, traveling around from national park to national park.

So, which national parks and monuments have you seen and what would you recommend?


motheramelia said...

I have seen Acadia, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Tetons, Crater Lake, Roosevelt, Badlands, Wind Cave, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Yosemite, Lassen, Redwood, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Saguaro, and many national monuments. They are all wonderful in their own way, but I think Glacier, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are my top three. Want to go to Bryce, Zion and Canyonlands, but have yet to get there.

JCF said...

You need to Yosemite, and you need me to come w/ you! [Very doable!]

Yosemite is crazy crowded in the summer, though. If you want a MUCH less crowded mountain experience, I heartily recommend Lassen Volcanic Nat Park. Beautiful mountains, fascinating volcanic effects (hotsprings and mudpots and fumaroles), lush forests. [Also very doable for Yours Truly to meet you there!]

I also heartily recommend Crater Lake NP, Grand Teton NP, the Grand Canyon, and (again more off the beaten path) Sequoia/Kings Canyon NPs. Also Mt St Helens Volcanic Monument.

I've never been to Glacier NP, but really want to. Also want to go to Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce&Zion, and Chaco Canyon. Among others!

Counterlight said...

Mother Amelia has seen just about all the parks I want to see.

I'd love to see Lassen Volcanic Park.

motheramelia said...

I love Lassen. Spent a week there in the 60s and then again in the 90s. The second trip was mostly backpacking in the national forest, with a side trip to the park itself. Living in California for so many years made many of the parks accessible. Now I'm in Maine I have made many trips to Acadia which I love. It was the first National Park I saw in 1964 and is a sentimental favorite, even if those in the west really stand out.

it's margaret said...

Do go to Crater Lake. And go stay at the lodge on Mt. Hood --OMG!!!! Yosemite is best in early April when the snow melt begins.

Are you planning trips?

Counterlight said...

No trips. Just wishing out loud.

it's margaret said...

Well --me too then. Don't know if they are National parks, but I do hope to go to the Bad Lands and to see some natural prairie grasslands.... But, since I live in a Reservation with ten church churches spread end to end --a Reservation which in itself is the size of the State of Connecticut, time at home is scrumptious! Just sayin'.

Counterlight said...

That's what I remember about the west, next door is usually ten miles away.

JCF said...

You're not making up your cancelled trip to SF then? {JCF pouts}