An Ode to America’s National Parks

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In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a park bill that created the Yosemite Grant, marking the first time that the U.S. federal government had specifically set aside land for public use. The Yosemite Grant paved the way for Yellowstone to become the first official national park eight years later in 1871.

Finally, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act creating the National Park Service.

Today, the national park system includes 401 protected and recognized areas across the country, including national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, and scenic rivers and trails.

Below are all the sites I have had the pleasure of visiting on my travels (this list will be updated as I explore more of the U.S.!).

Total so far: 29


Alaska national parks


Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon


California national parks


  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington Monument
World War II Memorial

National Mall and Memorials


Everglades National Park


  • Fort Frederica National Monument (on St. Simon's Island)


  • World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (at Pearl Harbor)

USS Arizona Memorial


  • Boston National Historical Park (including Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, the Paul Revere House, and other sites along the Freedom Trail)

Boston National Historical Park


  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis)

Gateway Arch


New Mexico

Pecos National Historical Park

New York

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

North Carolina

Wright Brothers National Memorial

North Dakota

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park


Perry's Victory Monument and Cuyahoga Valley NP


  • Oklahoma City National Memorial (site of the OKC bombing in 1995)

Oklahoma City National Memorial

South Carolina

  • Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (including antebellum plantations where the culture was first shaped by captive Africans brought to the southern United States from West Africa)

Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

South Dakota


Arches National Park


Historic Jamestowne


  • Grand Teton National Park


What are some of YOUR favorite parks/memorials in the U.S.?



"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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36 Comments on “An Ode to America’s National Parks

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  1. You have covered a lot!
    Personally, I really want to go back and do the parks of the four corners.

      Ah, me too! That part of the country is amazing. I’m hoping to get back to the Southwest later this year and visit at least one new park!

    Thanks For share about National Park is definitely one of the greatest inventions to come from America…Nice post..:)

      I agree that it’s a great invention!

    Great list. I have to give a shout out to two of my favorite National Parks in Washington state: Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park. Olympic National Park has a temperate rain forest, beaches filled with rock stacks and snow-capped mountains. North Cascades has amazing mountain hikes and scenery and it’s best to visit in the summer.

      I really would like to visit Olympic NP sometime!

    Love this list. I want to keep track of this too, but I will only keep track of National Parks (59).
    I absolutely love Arches NP and Bryce Canyon NP

      Go for it, Julio! It’s fun to look back at all the places you’ve been.


    I went to the Grand Canyon when I was 10 – totally took my breath away. Stunning. This post just made me want to go back to America! And it definitely reminded me that Yosemite should be on my bucket list – would love to go there. Actually – would love to visit ALL of America’s national parks!

      Yosemite is my favorite!! If you ever get the chance to go there, definitely take it!

    Oh wow there’s so many, i never realized. Of the ones you have visited I have only been to 2, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Very keen to check out the Arches National Park, Yosemite, Alcatraz and of course the Grand Canyon on my next trip to the US, hopefully next year!

      There ARE so many! 400+ sites protected by the National Park Service, and 59 National Parks. Even just seeing all of those would take ages!

    Great list!
    I’ve yet to visit all of them. Would love to make a road trip out of it.

      It would have to be an epically long road trip to see them all! But I would love to do that too.

    My personal favorites are Rocky Mountain National Park, Arches, and Yellowstone. I don’t think I could ever get tired of going to national parks – they’re all so unique and well-maintained!

      I haven’t been to Yellowstone yet, but I really need to get there in the next year or so! So far, I think Yosemite is my favorite – the landscapes there are just amazing!

        Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the world – all other geysers I’ve seen have been disappointing comparatively!

    The National Park is definitely one of the greatest inventions to come from America. I also think you guys have the best National Parks in the world, it’s amazing to think all of that land will continue to be protected for everyone to enjoy. My favourite is still Yosemite but Glacier in Montana holds a special place in my heart, it’s so quiet compared to many of the others and the scenery is breathtaking. You’ve made me want to add up how many parks I’ve been to now!

      We definitely do have some great national parks here in the U.S. And I’m so proud that we continue to protect them!

    The parks of the SW have always intrigued me the most — perhaps because the landscape can’t be found anywhere else in the world? My dad is going to Red Rock Canyon this fall and I am SO jealous!

      The southwest is definitely unique – I’ve never seen anywhere else like it!

    You have totally inspired me to sit down this week and write a list of all of the national parks I have visited. I agree with Angela that you’ve been to a ton! Growing up in Philadelphia, I’ve been to scores of the more “historical” ones (i.e. houses, battlefields etc) over the years but would love to see some of the ones out west!

    Just because it was so different from anything I had ever seen, I really loved Haleakala on Maui!

      Do it, Julie! It’s fun to actually go through the whole list and see how many you’ve been to!

    I would love to visit some of these parks, especially the Grand Canyon and the ones with the desert landscape!

      There are plenty of those to visit! The parks in the southwest are especially awesome.

    I like Colorado and Utah parks the most. All of them are beautiful. America is mostly known for skyscrapers. Somehow the natural beauty gets overshadowed, but these national parks prove the existence of plenteous natural wonders in America too!

      The U.S. is so much more than skyscrapers!

      I agree with you on Utah parks especially – they are all amazing!

    Wow, you have been to a good number of parks. You are really making me want to make a post of the ones I have visited. I think we are lucky to have such a great national park system and wished that they were appreciated more by tourists and our government!

      You should do it, Angela! It IS National Park Week, after all. 😉

      And I agree that the US has an amazing parks system!!

    That’s a great list! The US National Park system really is a treasure. I like trying to keep track of the places I’ve visited in my National Parks Passport, but I inevitably forget to bring it along half the time. I did get stamps for all four parks in Michigan on a road trip in 2010 (they’ve since added another), including Isle Royale. That, Olympic National Park, and Yellowstone have been a few of my favorites.

      Ah, I wish I had gotten one of those passports years ago! It’s fun to keep track – it reminds you how much you’ve seen, and yet how much more there is left to see!

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