National Parks Week

A celebration of national parks kicked off on Saturday, marking a week of fee-free entry to more than 100 national parks across the country.

National Parks Week is annual event. The focus for 2011 is “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” – “highlighting the connection between human and environmental health and the vital role American’s national parks play in both.”  Sounds reminiscent of a recent B-R Dispatch post!

Arches, Big Bend, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Carlsbad Caverns, Cumberland Gap, Death Valley, Everglades, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Haleakalā, Hawaii Volcanoes, Joshua Tree, Mesa Verde, Olympic, Petrified Forest, Redwood, Saguaro, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion. That’s all of the national parks I’ve had time to explore – so far. Not bad, 23 is almost half of the 58 protected areas called national parks.

Yellowstone - America's first national park. (Photo: M.Kopp)

In reality though, the National Parks Service is responsible for the operation of close to 400 national protected spaces. There are national parks, national parks and preserves, historical parks, battlefields, historic sites, monuments, recreation areas, seashores… the list goes on.

Okay, better start again. Amistad, Arches, Aztec Ruins, Bandelier…

From Arizona to Florida, Kentucky to Washington, I’ve been fortunate to experience many of America’s great national protected spaces. Buying an annual park pass is a cost-saving purchase if you plan to visit more than a couple of parks over the course the year.

Back to that list …Big Bend, Big South Fork, Bryce, Canyon de Chelly… I’ll get back to you with a number when I manage to get through them all!

How many U.S. national parks, monuments, recreation areas, etc. have you visited? Do you have a favorite?

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