Tag Archives: Top 10

Top 10 blog Posts from Our Second 100

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.

Our first hardcopy guidebook to the National Parks was released in November 2019!

10. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park (Hawai’i)

9. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument (Arizona)

8. Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas)

7. Point Reyes National Seashore (California)

6. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

5. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

4. Acadia National Park (Maine)

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee-North Carolina)

2. Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area (California)

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

1. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Honorable Mention

White Sands National Park (New Mexico, renamed December 20, 2019)

Top 10 National Parks for Kayaking

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!

10. Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (U.S. Virgin Islands)

There is no dry land in this Caribbean monument that borders Virgin Islands National Park.

9. Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri)

Canoes are also commonly used to explore the Jack’s Fork and Current Rivers.

8. Biscayne National Park (Florida)

A kayak can get close to the mangroves since most of this park covers ocean south of Miami.

7. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

Find a free lakeside campsite and fall asleep listening to loons call.

6. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Get up close to wildlife and baldcypress knees on Cedar Creek.

5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Nevada-Arizona)

Stop at Emerald Cove for photos on the way to or from Arizona Hot Springs.

4. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Michigan)

The only way to see Petit Portal is from the water and a kayak is necessary to go through it.

3. Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

Canoes may be preferable to run through the Ponca Wilderness during spring runoff.

2. Everglades National Park (Florida)

The best way to see this park is from a small boat, plus by staying overnight on a chickee.

…and finally our #1 National Park for kayaking!

1. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin)

Sea caves carved by the waves of Lake Superior require a small craft to explore.

Honorable Mentions

Point Reyes National Seashore (California)

Located on the San Andreas Fault, Tomales Bay is a protected spot to explore north of San Francisco.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

We have heard the best way to see this park is by kayak, but it sounds really cold.

Channel Islands National Park (California)

We hope someday to take a guided kayaking trip to the sea caves on Santa Cruz Island.

Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas)

Spanish moss-draped baldcypress trees line these picturesque bayous.

Top 10 National Parks with Designated Backcountry Campsites

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.

10. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

Campsites are mostly in the forest and not very scenic, but there is a great trail system connecting them.

9. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

Backcountry permits are expensive and hard to get in the lottery, which indicates they are worth it.

8. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

Backpacking is the main attraction to this large island surrounded by Lake Superior; come prepared for bugs.

7. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

There are multiple ecosystems to explore from the Rio Grande and the Chihuahuan Desert all the way up to the pine forest.

6. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

Expect to gain (and lose) elevation on the trails in this mountainous wilderness park.

5. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

With no campground, this is the only way to spend the night in America’s newest National Park.

4. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin)

A sea kayak is recommended to access the island campsites dispersed in Lake Superior.

3. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

While the campgrounds are full all summer, you can typically get a walk-in permit to backpack.

2. Everglades National Park (Florida)

Paddle your way to spend the night atop a chickee and you will never forget the experience.

…and finally our #1 park with designated backcountry campsites!

1. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Alaska)

Climbing the Golden Stairs up the Chilkoot Trail is a bucket list-worthy endeavor.

Honorable Mentions

Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

There are many boat-in campsites on the lakes and also the 28-mile Kab-Ash Trail on the mainland.

Glacier National Park (Montana)

Most trails gain significant elevation, but that is not a problem if you camp on the shores of Lake McDonald.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

The steep hike up to Guadalupe Peak is popular, but much of this park is not as well-traveled.

Top 10 Museums Run by the National Park Service

Some National Park Service units stick with the “go outside and play” philosophy, but these selected parks do a great job of interpreting human and natural history inside a museum.  You might recognize some names from our Top 10 National Historical Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites.  We previously created a Top 10 list of our favorite museums at the 62 National Parks.

10. Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)

An indoor French frigate makes Yorktown a must-visit museum

9. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Ohio)

Follow the Aviation Trail to the Wright Brothers cycle shop and National Parachute Museum

8. Fort Necessity National Battlefield (Pennsylvania)

An excellent museum interprets the start of the global French and Indian War in 1754

7. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (Missouri)

A balanced look at a controversial U.S. President housed in his former barn

6. Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York-New Jersey)

Ellis Island and Lady Liberty (new museum opened in 2019) make an unforgettable day trip

5. Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)

The museum opened in 2008, and pay extra for the excellent film and the Cyclorama painting

4. Fort Stanwix National Monument (New York)

A superb use of videos and kiosks to provide four different characters’ perspectives on the events of the American Revolution in Upstate New York

3. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)

Two entire airplane hangars full of aircraft and displays about these Civil Rights pioneers

2. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

The best natural history museum in the entire National Park Service system

…and finally our #1 museum at a National Park Service site:

1. Andersonville National Historic Site (Georgia)

Visiting the National Prisoner of War Museum is a powerful experience

Honorable Mentions

Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado-Utah)

An indoor mountainside full of dinosaur fossils makes this place special

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (Maryland)

This museum operated by Maryland State Parks opened in 2017 to explain this incredible woman’s life

Hopewell Culture National Monument (Ohio)

A small museum, but the artifacts are wonderfully displayed (and it has a great film)

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (District of Columbia)

Like New York’s Women’s Rights NHP, this museum makes you think about modern issues

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (North Carolina)

This museum will help you solve the mystery of the “Lost Colony” of 1590

Top 10 Museums in National Parks

We recently published our 307-page guidebook to the 62 National Parks (available on Amazon), so we thought it would be a good time to rank our favorite museums in the parks.  The National Parks typically stick with the “go outside and play” philosophy, but these selected parks do a great job of interpreting human and natural history inside a museum.  Our photograph options are limited and mainly include Wondon the Traveling Bunny (who has his own blog).  We will rank our Top 10 museums in other National Park Service (NPS) units in a future list (check out all our Top 10 Lists here). 

10. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennesee-North Carolina)

Sugarlands Visitor Center has a nice natural history museum, plus the historic structures at Cataloochee, Elkmont, and Cades Cove serve as outdoor museums.

9. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

If this is your first visit, after you buy your tour tickets at the park entrance head directly to the Chapin Mesa Museum that overlooks the ruins of Spruce Tree House.

8. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Great Basin Visitor Center is in Baker, outside the park boundaries, but it is worth a stop to see a cross-section of Prometheus, a nearly 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine tree.

7. Everglades National Park (Florida)

Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is home to an excellent museum interpreting the natural history of the “river of grass.”

6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

Boston Store and Canal Visitor Centers both have excellent hands-on exhibits and, taking a page from Parks Canada, you can play dress-up, too.

5. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

Part of the reason this became a National Park in 2018 was due to the opening of its new museum beneath the arch, but do not miss a visit inside the colorful Old Courthouse.

4. Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

There are great exhibits on wildlife at Denali Visitor Center near the park entrance and Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66 on the main park road (only accessible by bus).

3. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

Fordyce Bathhouse on Central Avenue is now entirely a museum with multiple stories of exhibits and plenty of stories to tell.

2. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

There is an excellent interpretive museum inside the visitor center for the world’s longest cave.

… and finally our #1 museum in a National Park:

1. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming-Montana-Idaho)

Learn all about the Yellowstone Supervolcano at Old Faithful and Canyon Village Visitor Centers, but also check out the Museum of the National Park Ranger near Norris Junction.

Honorable Mentions

Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

It can be easy to miss the museum that is downstairs from the park bookstore and tour ticket booth, so do not make that rookie mistake.

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

The Main Park Visitor Center is located on the Richardson Highway, but the main attraction requires you to brave the drive to McCarthy and cross the pedestrian bridge to the Kennecott ghost town.