Friday, June 10, 2011

America the Beautiful: Discovering our National Parks

Some more unfinished business today! I'm typing from a cozy little nest of boxes and packing paper and, though I'm glad to finally be in our new home (and my new kitchen!), looking through these photos has reawakened some of my desire to be on the road. I'll have my feet firmly planted in Tennessee for a while (I'm attempting to assimilate into the local culture tonight with tickets to the CMA Music Fest!) but I'll be traveling vicariously though these catch-up posts over the next few days. I hope you enjoy the ride, too!

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

So, how do you top two weeks in sunny Las Vegas? Follow it up with as many back-to-back National Park visits as you can cram into a two week period! At least, that's what Matt and I decided to do, and it turned out to be a pretty great plan. We spent two weeks hiking, camping, eating and driving our way across 13 National Parks/Forests/Monuments and assorted other points of interest. It was breathtaking, enlightening and occasionally really exhausting - and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Of course, I know not everyone can devote two whole weeks to rambling through the vast American hinterland, so my next few posts will seek to condense and summarize our experiences; you can 'travel' along with us or use our itinerary as a jumping off point for your own adventures.

Antelope Canyon (not a National Park, but still amazing!)
By sheer chance, the first half of our whirlwind tour coincided with this year's fee-free National Park Week. Judging by the traffic that week, many people schedule their visits during this time, but if you plan on visiting more than a handful of parks within a calendar year, it may be worthwhile to purchase the 'America the Beautiful' annual pass.  The price may seem steep (currently $80 for unlimited entries) but it quickly pays for itself and, in any case, preserving these beautiful places is well worth the cost.

Check back over the next few days as we 'visit':
Petroglyph National Monument, NM
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
Hoover Dam, NV
Death Valley National Park, CA
Sequoia National Forest, CA
Valley of Fire State Park, NV
Zion National Park, UT
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Antelope Canyon, AZ
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT
Capitol Reef National Park, UT
Arches National Park, UT
Mesa Verde National Park, UT
Four Corners Monument, NM
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, CO
Garden of the Gods, CO


  1. Amazing pictures and how beautiful! I wish I can travel like you do....well, I used to before having kids. :)

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving the sweet comment on my blog. Hope you'll visit again and follow. I'm your newest follower and can't wait to see your next adventures.

  2. Thanks, Amy! My husband and I still hope to be able to travel after kids, but we appreciate the ease of traveling 'just the two of us' and are trying to squeeze in as much travel as possible! Somehow, I don't think trekking up and down sand dunes and sleeping in the back of our car will be practical with little ones in tow! ;)

    I'm looking forward to following your blog!