Fill In The Blank: The Top 3 National Parks On My Wishlist Are ________
Now is always a great time to dream about visiting a National Park you’ve never been to before. Or maybe you have 2 or 5 or 10 in your “bucket list”? Share your wished-for (low budget) destinations! What appeals to you? What went into your choices? Add a photo of your target National Parks in Comments, so everyone can imagine, too.
Below, for good measure, we’ll throw in some ideas about how to go beyond dreaming and start making plans…
The National Parks dreamer challenge: Can you slim your list to 3?
After a few decades of fantasy and multiple road trips, these are 3 biggies in Muddy Boots’s Lower 48 National Parks “bucket” that haven’t had a visit from moi yet. EVER.
#1 Petrified Forest National Park AZ
Look at that photo! What’s not to like about rock trees piled and perched randomly, like why aren’t they falling over? There are really that many shades of rust out there in the Arizona landscape? Sand teepees?
Per the NPS, the Petrified Forest National Park has all kinds of awesome sights that can’t be seen anywhere else AT ALL, ancient cultures, colors, geologic history.
Obvious downsides for a trip there? No car camping right in the Park. Problem soon solved: the Ultimate Public Campground Project will provide National Park Senior Pass options within driving distance and maybe even inspire a dawdle somewhere not yet on the agenda!
Sometimes you’ve gotta get out of your comfort zone and sleep somewhere weird, ya know? (Just not at Tree of Heaven, puleeeze.) No memory foam mattress topper, no everything-but-the-kitchen-sink veeehickle pulled up right next to the campsite picnic table, no bedside electric percolator for 10-oclock elevenses. No fridge for late night….. you got the picture.
This pied à terre in the Everglades National Park looks like the next best thing to a grand resort. Paddle in lackadaisically, lounge around on the deck, play looky-loo while a steady stream of boats passes by, train the binoculars on the mangroves… So much going on, it’s gotta be way better than sitting on your rocking chair on the front stoop at home. For sure.
Downside? What happens if you roll out of bed? Alligators below? More research needed…
#3 Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND
There’s astonishing scenery and there’s astonishing light. Many National Parks get one or the other. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, so it seems, is extremely about both. Night time, day time, stars, sunsets. Every photo has that come hither look: “Staaaaay, loooooook, caaaamp, just be there.
Plus, there’s never been a wildlife Muddy Boots didn’t like. Well, maybe excepting alligators, snakes, mosquitoes, lip-smacking camp raccoons…. The Teddy has the right kind!
Can’t forget that! Wildlife viewing, canoeing, hiking, biking… Just ask the rangers or “Plan Your Visit”.
Take a look! The in-park prairie dog town has a certain kind of appeal too. Cousins, sisters, auntie prairie dogs? Yep! Even the sibs seem to be getting along in this little corner of the world.
If we’re dreaming, how’re we going to make a plan?
Dates? This summer? Next winter? Fall foliage?
Just for imagining? That works too.
Hmm…all those possibilities.
Serious fantasy time…
Dig out your maps and guide books. Breeze over to the public library and check out a stack of 20 relevant volumes that no one’s read for years. Settle in for a spell, pop open your technology (or the computer at said local library), and give your fingers a workout.
You’ll need all of it.
Dreaming and planning is half the adventure, IMBHO. Maybe a quarter.
Technology did you say?
You betcha! If you want to pin down a trip, get a schedule, and figure out specific locations for budget overnights, technology is the way to go.
Not just mapping apps
Not just traditional standbys like Apple Maps and Google Maps, which are great for things like distances and the fastest way to get between Point A and Place B, but hopeless for details like finding a campground that is National Park Senior Pass friendly.
We’re talking road-trip specific apps.
In 10 minutes, Muddy Boots has the following Parks/Monuments/Seashores/Recreation Areas/Historic Places more or less on the “bucket list” route. They can be rearranged by dragging and new ones added. EZ PZ.
And yes, folks, there are that many Senior-Pass discount-compatible campgrounds near Hot Springs National Park in AR. It took a whole 1 minute to bring up the lot. By the way, each of those tags has basic information about the campground, including running water, sites, hookups, restrooms, and a link for more info.
Rand McNally’s TripMaker® is free. The other two? Savings from 2 Senior-Pass overnights will pay off the paltry bill. No brainer.
Aren’t you done with all-inclusive posh hotels?
You can get app reviews and basic features here:
Time to set sights on one of those crazily-seductive bucket-list Parks…
National Parks photo credits. Featured image and top…Great egret among the cypress: Public Domain by Brian Call/NPS via Wikimedia. Petrified Forest National Park, Teepees: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Finetooth via Wikimedia.Petrified Forest National Park, Jasper Forest: Public Domain by NPS. Everglades, Plate Creek Chickee: Public Domain by National Park Service. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Like a Painting: Public Domain by NPS/Gary Anderson. Theodore Roosevelt National Park bison, Time to Roam: Public Domain by NPS/Janice Shanks. Prairie Dog Town: Public Domain by NPS/Jeff Zylland.
Other: Laptop and lapdog: Public Domain by Nick Turner via Unsplash. Screenshots from the Roadtrip Planner App and the Ultimate Public Campground Project. Postcard, One day scenic travel tours: CC BY 2.0 by Boston Public Library via Flickr.