Tag Archives: Top 10

Top 10 Blog Posts from Our First 100

To celebrate reaching the milestone of our first 100 blog posts, we are linking to our top 10 posts based on number of page views and personal favorites.  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 heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands in less than two weeks and we will visit all 5 NPS sites there.

Our first hardcopy guidebook to the National Parks will be released in June 2019!

10. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

9. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

8. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

7. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

6. Grand Portage National Monument

5. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

4. City of Rocks National Reserve

3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail

…and finally the #1 most popular blog post from our first 100:

1. Capitol Reef National Park

Honorable Mention

Indiana Dunes National Park (renamed February 15, 2019)

Top 10 Primitive Campgrounds

We previously ranked our 10 favorite campgrounds with running water, so these are the best of the “dry” campsites with vault toilets, four of which are free when you pay the park entrance fee.

10. Haleakala National Park

You might think Maui is going to be hot, but the free campground in the Hosmer Grove sits at 7,000 feet in elevation.

9. Channel Islands National Park

You will never forget a night spent on East Anacapa Island and not solely because the foghorn sounds 4 times per minute.

8. Joshua Tree National Park

This park in the Mojave Desert has several campgrounds with running water and reservations, but rock climbers love Hidden Valley for its first-come, first-served sites surrounded by boulders.

7. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Kulanaokuaiki Campground only has 8 free walk-in campsites, but at night you can see the glow of molten lava from Kīlauea Caldera.

6. Denali National Park and Preserve

Reservations (minimum 3 nights) at Teklanika River allow you to drive your own vehicle (or RV) to Mile 29 on the park road and pick up the shuttle bus there.

5. Canyonlands National Park

Willow Flat is in the Island in the Sky District west of Moab, Utah way up at 6,000 feet in elevation; a great place to stay if you want to photograph sunrise at Mesa Arch.

4. Yellowstone National Park

Slough Creek is a small campground in the northeast corner of the park and its first-come, first-served sites are hard to come by.

3. Badlands National Park

Often jam-packed in the summer, the free Sage Creek Primitive Campground is frequented by bison and coyotes (Note: beware the sticky clay after a rainstorm).

2. Grand Canyon National Park

If you drive the 61 miles of dirt road to beautiful Hovenweap Overlook on the north rim of the canyon, you deserve to spend the night for free.

…and finally our #1 primitive campground in a National Park!

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

Bring your own water and your snorkeling gear aboard the ferry to Fort Jefferson, 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.

Honorable Mentions

Devils Postpile National Monument

Technically this riverside campground is in the adjacent Inyo National Forest, but staying here is one of the few ways you are allowed to drive your own vehicle into the monument.

City of Rocks National Reserve

Designated sites are spread throughout this reserve in southern Idaho and are popular with rock climbers; try to get one near photogenic Window Arch.

Top 10 National Parks for Dispersed Backcountry Camping

These National Park Service units do not require you to camp in a designated site, so much the better for privacy and quiet.  These are our 10 favorite spots to go backpacking and commune with nature in the backcountry.  Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles.

10. Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Georgia to Maine)

With the exception of some National and State Parks, camping is dispersed along the A.T.

9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Most parks in Alaska offer dispersed camping and this is the largest of all National Parks.

8. Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

While floating downstream, you can pull your boat to the shore and set up wherever you like.

7. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

Bison will be your only companions on the prairies and forests above the caverns.

6. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

This park has designated sites along its trails, but you can also get an off-trail permit by zone.

5. Sequoia National Park (California)

Much of this park has designated campsites, but the Mineral King section does not.

4. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

Incredible views can be found in Conata Basin and other free backcountry areas.

3. Death Valley National Park (California)

It is a hike to the Panamint Dunes, but you will likely have the place to yourself.

2. Cape Lookout National Seashore (North Carolina)

Take a ferry to these barrier islands and set up on the beautiful sandy beaches.

…and finally our #1 National Park for dispersed backcountry camping!

1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado)

A free permit allows you to set up camp anywhere in the dune field not visible from the road.

Honorable Mention

Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri)

Find the perfect spot along the shores of the Jack’s Fork or Current Rivers

Top 10 National Historical Parks

There are 51 National Historical Parks in the National Park Service (NPS) System.  Differentiated from National Historic Sites, each typically encompasses multiple locations to tell a unique story from the past.  Below is a list of our 10 favorite National Historical Parks in the U.S.A.

10. Manhattan Project (Tennessee, New Mexico, Washington)

Three far flung sites recall the advent of the atomic age

9. Lewis and Clark (Oregon, Washington)

Winter quarters on the Pacific Coast for the Corps of Discovery

8. Dayton Aviation Heritage (Ohio)

Follow the Aviation Trail to the Wright Brothers cycle shop

7. Thomas Edison (New Jersey)

Find the first movie studio and talking doll at the “Invention Factory”

6. Women’s Rights (New York)

Learn about the first Women’s Rights Convention held in 1848

5. Harpers Ferry (West Virginia, Maryland)

Centuries of history are told in this well-preserved town

4. Lowell (Massachusetts)

Watch working textile machinery inside Boott Cotton Mills

3. Chaco Culture (New Mexico)

All roads led to this ceremonial center a thousand years ago

2. Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front (California)

On most Fridays you can meet these pioneering women in Richmond

…and finally our #1 National Historical Park!

1. Klondike Gold Rush (Alaska, Washington)

Walk the streets of Skagway and climb the “Golden Stairs” to Chilkoot Pass

Honorable Mention

Kalaupapa (Hawaii)

This isolated peninsula on Molokai Island was perfect for quarantine

Top 10 National Monuments

National Monument is the most common designation in the National Park Service (NPS) System.  Many of our favorites among the roughly 130 National Monuments are wild places managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.  The NPS typically has a more developed, tourist-friendly infrastructure with visitor centers, trails, and tours.  Here is a ranking of our top 10 National Monuments of the 88 run by the NPS.

10. John Day Fossil Beds

Fantastic colors in the hills of Oregon

9. Organ Pipe Cactus

28 species of cacti in southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

8. Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island and Lady Liberty make an unforgettable day trip

7. Cedar Breaks

High-elevation amphitheater of red rock in Utah

6. Fort Stanwix

An exact 1750s replica surrounded by Rome, New York

5. Timpanogos Cave

Make the climb to see incredibly delicate helictites in Utah

4. White Sands

These sledding hills in New Mexico could be the next National Park

3. Bandelier

Climb into these cliff dwellings in northern New Mexico

2. Jewel Cave

Tour the world’s third longest cave under South Dakota

…and finally our #1 National Monument managed by the NPS:

1. Lava Beds

Explore below ground in this remote section of northern California


Honorable Mention

World War II Valor in the Pacific

Pearl Harbor is one part of this diverse monument