To celebrate reaching the milestone of our 200th blog posts, we are linking to our top 10 posts from 101-200 based on number of likes. Click here to see our Top 10 from the first 100 (or here if you want to see all of our Top 10 Lists). Thank you to our readers for continuing to inspire us to visit new National Park Service (NPS) units and share the wonders with you all. We are planning a roadtrip to the southern U.S. in September to visit some new NPS sites.
We own a 17-foot long tandem kayak that we have taken all over the United States, including some rivers where it may have been preferable to canoe. Some of our most memorable National Park experiences have happened while seated in our kayak. This does not include two amazing trips through Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, which you can read about on our other travel blog since it is not managed by the National Park Service. Please check out all of our Top 10 lists for more adventure ideas and book recommendations!
We love backpacking and America’s National Parks are some of the most scenic places for it. We previously posted our Top 10 National Park Service units that allow dispersed backpack camping, so this is our corollary list. These are some of our favorite spots to spend a night in the backcountry. They nearly all require permits (some take reservations), so check the regulations before you go. Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles, as not all of these backcountry campsites offer toilets.
Since White Sands National Monument was upgraded to the 62nd National Park on December 20, 2019, we decided to update our guidebook to the parks. If you already bought your copy on Amazon, please find the new page 308 posted below. White Sands is one of our favorite of the many National Park Service units in New Mexico. You can read more about the park on this blog.
603,008 visitors in 2018
Dunes composed of gypsum make a great destination for snow sledding year round, especially when the sand is wet. Gypsum readily dissolves in water, but here it forms dunes because no river drains the Tularosa Basin. Follow markers on the five-mile roundtrip Alkali Flat Trail that goes up and down dunes and provides views of the San Andres Mountains. Most of the wildlife here is nocturnal, but during the day you may spot bleached earless lizards that evolved to camouflage in the gypsum. The white dunes take on the colors of the sunset if you attend the ranger-guided Sunset Stroll or backpack camp. There is no campground and only ten backcountry campsites, and their availability is dependent upon whether the military is conducting missile tests overnight, so call ahead or check the schedule online. Oliver Lee Memorial State Park offers a full service campground in a beautiful setting south of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
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2019 was the first complete year of our National Parks travel blog and it was a big year for us. We wrote 112 blog posts and finished drawing our 50th logo for a National Park (see them all here). In November, we published our first hard copy guidebook to visiting the 61 National Parks (which is available on Amazon). Then on December 20, White Sands was named the 62nd National Park so we will soon be working on a 2nd Edition (see our new logo on Cafe Press).
In 2019, we also worked toward our goal of visiting at least 400 of the current 419 units in the National Park Service (NPS) system. In April, we took off two weeks to see all five NPS sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Virgin Islands NP, VI Coral Reef NM, Salt River Bay NHP, Buck Island NM, and Christiansted NHS). We crossed off 29 NPS units from our list on a September blitz through Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. In December, we made it to our final NPS sites in both Florida and Georgia.
We have now visited 364 of 419 NPS units, but most of the remaining sites are far flung, so it will take many separate trips to see the rest. We hope to return to Washington, D.C. soon to see the leftover NPS sites there and in the surrounding states. We are very grateful for the opportunity to travel and see some of the most wonderful parts of America.