Happy belated Birthday, National Park Service.

In honor of my love for the National Parks and the outdoors, I’ll be running a virtual 10k this weekend organized by VRC. There is still time to join me, if you’re up for it. I am usually not a huge fan of virtual races, but the t-shirts + medals are really cool and a portion of the registration fee goes to the National Park Foundation, so it’s almost a no-brainer. 

Ugh. I spaced out and didn’t get this post out in a timely manner, but birthdays ought to be celebrated not just on one day, but for at least a whole week. Or, make that a month. Especially if you’re celebrating a centenary, am I right?

So, yesterday was the official 100th birthday of the National Park Service! Happy belated birthday, and thank you for preserving and protecting the beautiful lands and sites of America.

Being a geographer (with strong geologist tendencies), I’ve always loved the National Parks. In 1998 when I was in college, I was lucky enough to participate in a three week excursion through the American Southwest with my geology class. It was a mandatory field trip (the three week trip, not necessarily that destination) but I had no hesitation picking and signing up for the trip through the United States (including a number of National Parks). I had always been fascinated with the United States and their beautiful landscapes. If I didn’t know that I was loving geology then (after all, I was trying to earn a degree in it), I definitely knew it after that trip. What I got to see in those short three weeks was amazing and changed me for the better.

The National Park Service manages 59 National Parks, 123 National Momuments, and 231 other types of protected areas. I’ve only seen a handful really, but hoping to check more off my bucket list in the future.

So far, I’ve been to Arches Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Zion. Here are just a few impressions (all photos taken by me).

I MEAN! What do you say??


Landscape Arch – Arches NP


Delicate Arch – Arches NP


 Dead Horse Point Overlook – Canyonlands NP


Half Dome – Yosemite NP


Yosemite NP


Zion NP


Zion NP


Grand Canyon NP


Grand Canyon NP

 National Momuments I’ve seen are Basin and Range , California Coastal (why yes, the whole coastal area of California is considered a national monument!), Devils Postpile (simply stunning!), Grand Staircase-EscalanteMontezuma Castle and Muir Woods (although I need to explore that more).


This sketch is truly amazing. I’ve first seen this in my geology class and have been fascinated by it ever since. If you take a closer look (right click and open image in a new tab to see a larger version!), you see a bunch of different National Parks that comprise the Grand Staircase… and it’s called that because from north to south, stepping down through multiple National Parks from Bryce Canyon National Park to the Grand Canyon National Park, it exposes older and older rocks (with the oldest ones exposed on the bottom of the Grand Canyon) in a staircase fashion. SO FREAKIN’ FASCINATING! Sorry, I am having a geek moment here, but seriously, if that doesn’t fascinate you, too, I don’t even know what to say.)

And some more impressions. Because why not.


California Coast


Devils Postpile


on top of Devils Postpile, the hexagonal columns exposed.

My three favorite NPs (I can’t just pick one!) so far are  Arches, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite NPs,  And I haven’t even mentioned other Recreation and Conservation areas with more than stunning sites (let me mention Horseshoe Bend (my favorite!) and Antelope Canyon as two examples).

The ones I want to visit badly are Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier NPs. And I’d really like to see Vermilion Cliffs NM (‘The Wave’) and Devils Tower. Ah, who am I kidding? I want to see them all. 

I also would for some odd reason like to see Mount Rushmore sometime. I think it’s that I just cannot imagine that the faces of four US presidents are really sculptured into the granite face of this huge batholith formation. Have you seen it?

There is some truly amazing stuff out there, people!

Which National Park is your favorite? Which one are you dying to visit?


  1. I’ve only been to three National Parks and Zion was amazing.

    I really want to go to Glaciers with the I Feel Better Podcast girls. We had this on our goal for 2016 but we had to scratch it because of funds!

    1. I hope you can go… to any of them… soon! :)

  2. I’ve been to many National Parks, but still have so many to see! The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Acadia in Maine are on the top of my list. But I’d love to see Glacier, Arches, Zion, and Badlands in South Dakota.

    If/when you visit Washington State, I will take you to one (or all) of our three National Parks! Mt. Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades. They are each unique from one another, and all of them are breathtakingly beautiful.

    1. Yes, yes, yes… I wanna come up and see some of Washington Sate!

  3. I’d highly recommend Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (does that count?) in Michigan, and Great Sand Dunes and Rocky Mountain National Parks in Colorado. Sadly, I haven’t been to many National Parks, but I keep dreaming that one day I’ll see at least the most famous ones :)

    1. Oh thank you for the recommendations… I have to keep those parks on the “other side” of the country in mind :)

  4. Utah parks, represent!! :)

    I love this post, AND I love you, AND I love how much you love the NPS!!! AND I found a new National Monument that I MUST see! Devil’s Postpile! SO COOL! Must go!

    I love love LOVE the layered rocks of the Southwest, they are endlessly fascinating to me. Along the Wasatch Front (the mountains that comprise the eastern barrier of the Salt Lake and Utah valleys) you can see all sorts of crazy earthquake activity where the layers are at super wonky angles and in a few places you can actually see folds in the rock that look like giant hairpins, 100 feet tall. I love it so much! (And miss it like WOAH!)


    1. Utah’s parks are amazing, definitely some of my favorites right there…. oh, and now that you mention Wasatch Front. That’s where we started off on our geologic excursion! I remember being super-impressed by the crazy warping and folding of the rocks!! All of my photos are non-digital and somewhere in Germany, but I have to find them!

      I love that you love this post and the NPS so much too <3 geeks unite!

  5. My husband has been to a ton of national parks and I’ve been to… Like 2. And not even the major ones. I’ve also never been to Disney, so there is that, too.

    1. You’re missing out, lady ;)

  6. I have not been to nearly as many national parks as I would like to have been. So far I have been to Great Smoky Mountain, Rocky Mountain, and Theodore Roosevelt (although I don’t remember this because I was so young at the time) National Park. In October I’ll add another one to the list as Phil and I plan on spending a day at Crater Lake National Park when we got to Bend for our little hiking get away. I would like to try to get to at least one new-to-me national park in each of the years to come! It’s just a reminder of how much natural beauty surrounds us! I’m so grateful the National Park System which preserves these gorgeous park and I hope and pray that they continue to be amply funded!

    1. I’m glad you get to check another NP off your list in October! :)

  7. Oh, man, this makes me want to visit a National Park badly! There aren’t a ton around me, or in Florida really, though I looked it up and I HAVE visited a National Monument – Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine!

    Also, I love how much you geek out over this stuff! It makes me step up and take notice of these beautiful places we have in our very own country. So much beauty!

    1. I really hope you get to see some of these amazing sites some day, Steph! They’ll take your breath away!
      And hey, look, you have been to a National Monument :)

  8. WOW! Those West Coast parks are truly beautiful. I’ve only been to a few in Jersey like the Delaware Water Gap and Sandy Hook’s Gateway Ntl Park, and honestly, the different scenery at the ones you posted above is just AWESOME! Totally jealous :-)

    1. You gotta get out here, girl!

  9. I am seriously lacking in my National Park visits! Love your pictures! Definitely makes me want to plan a trip to somewhere beautiful.

    1. Get on it, girl :) They’re so worth it.

  10. New goal in life- Devil’s Postpile- that looks amazing!! I love hiking in parks but I’ve only been to 3 National Parks- Arches, Grand Canyon and the Pinnacles. Although, the first two were when I was very young so I remember very little. Now I have more to add to my list. :)

    1. Devil’s Postpile is AMAZING! I hope you can go there sometime (it’s kinda hard to get to – only way is through Mammoth on the east side of the Sierras – but it’s so worth the trip!

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