Wide open spaces

According to Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, the U.S. has 59 national parks. They range from Acadia in Maine to Hawaii Volcanoes on the big island of Hawaii, from Olympic, west of Seattle, to Dry Tortugas a little off of Key West, Florida.

A person could spend a hefty lifetime of vacations — or a year — checking out all the national parks, and that person would have done a lifetime of vacations well. Yeah, our national parks are often hot in the summer vacation season, and they can get crowded (lately more than ever). But they are something that, almost everyone agrees, the politicians in our country have done right.

The Family never set out to specifically visit national parks over the years. Mostly, we just ran into them on trips elsewhere. We did a side jaunt to Yosemite while we were in northern California. We saw the volcanoes while in Hawaii visiting my brother. We checked out Denver a few years ago and went to Rocky Mountain. When Luke was just a wee tyke, we did a trip up to Grand Canyon during a spring training trip in Phoenix. We went to the Great Northwest and missed Olympic, but we dove into North Cascades on the way back from Vancouver.


None ever disappointed, despite the heat (we expected snow in North Cascades, the northernmost of the national parks in the contiguous 48, and were sweltering in shorts and t-shirts) and the crowds. We’ve found ways to cool off and get away from the hordes every place we’ve been.

Last year, we aimed for a national park for the first time. Acadia was fantastic. So this year, trying to cram in a vacation before Luke had to start his summer internship, Mary Jo came up with the idea of doing some parks in Utah.

I’m sure that Utah has plenty going for it, but nothing — not the Mormons or the Tabernacle or that big lake up north or all those buffalo or the Jazz — can match the five national parks in the state. We had a week and hit four of them (photo above), missing out on Bryce Canyon.

(There’s only so much you can do in a week. Utah has five national parks, but the state also boasts several national monuments, some national trails, a national recreation area and a national historic site. And, yes, a lot of Mormons.)

Here’s a quick spin through our trip. It’s easier than having everybody over for a slideshow, and you can leave anytime you want. (Click to enlarge.)


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