To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, I've compiled my favorite experiences and photos from my trips to the parks. So far I've seen 32 of the 59 National Parks (return trips denoted with *). I've seen 27 parks in the last 18 months, and I plan on seeing the remaining 27 before I'm thirty - 30 months from now. I am forever grateful for the NPS and all they do for the preservation of America's most prized possessions. Cheers, guys, here's to 100 more.
1. Grand Canyon (AZ) – Drinking boxed wine and eating PBJs while watching the sun set.
2. Zion (UT) – Hiking out to a view of a rock that looked like a dog’s head
3. GSMNP(NC) – While thru-hiking the AT – Getting snowed on in April.
4. Shenandoah (VA) – Also on the AT. Gorging at the many food shacks then passing out in the front lawn. Being a thru hiker rocks
5. Yosemite (CA) – Sunrise summit of Half Dome. Also, Sunset at Cathedral Lake (pictured at top). And Moonrise over Half Dome. Yosemite is cool.
6. Kings Canyon (CA) – Standing in Muir Hut, which was built in 1930 by the Sierra Club.
7. Sequoia (CA) – Summitting Mount Whitney. Or maybe eating 12 snickers in one hour.
8. Saguaro (AZ) – Buying my first national parks annual pass. Also, shooting sunrise – golden hour in that place is WILD.
9. Joshua Tree (CA) – Shooting sunrise as I drove back east. Also, not running out of gas after leaving J Tree (I came within 3 miles of empty).
10. Grand Canyon* (AZ) - Shooting sunset, specifically this moment:
11. Zion* (UT) - Shooting sunrise from my campsite. I had a whole valley out in front of me and no one within miles. Also, I'm in love with this photo:
12. Bryce Canyon (UT) – Showing up, expecting to hike a few miles in, instead finding feet of snow. Watching sunset over the hoodoos while posted up in the snow.
13. Capitol Reef (UT) – Waking up on a 7000 foot pass 2 a.m. to my tent being uplifted by vicious wind torrents, and spending the remainder of the night hoping I didn’t get sent on a wild parachute ride. I survived until dawn, packed up, and took this sunrise shot.
14. Canyonlands (UT) – Walking down to the Great Gallery and viewing rock art that was created thousands of years ago. This was a shot from sunrise the following morning.
15. Arches (UT) – Shooting sunrise at Delicate Arch. Interestingly enough, my best shot wasn't of the arch itself:
16. Rocky Mountain (CO) – Hiking in more snow than I had ever seen with two great friends.
17. Wind Cave (CO)– Driving through and seeing Bison, my spirit animal
18. Badlands (SD) – Waking up to a parade of 50 bison marching a few feet away from my tent. Also, the Stoned Goat:
19. Crater Lake (OR) – Driving up on the winding road, coming around a bend and seeing that blue water for the first time. Utterly staggering.
20. Lassen Volcanic (CA) – Hiking to Bumpass Hell, a hot spring field, in the early morning. Also, the portrait of this dude:
21. Redwood (CA) – watching a lunar eclipse in a field surrounded by Redwoods
22. Big Bend (TX) - Golden hour at that place is sick. The rocks light up burning orange.
23. Guadalupe Mountains (TX) – Nice little dayhike a few miles after getting pulled over for going 3 miles per hour over.
24. Carlsbad Caverns (NM) – Entering that big ass cave.
25. Mammoth Cave (KY) – Walking into the historic entrance of that big ass cave.
26. Congaree (SC) – Dayhike through those swamplands. Really cool place.
27. Cuyahoga (OH) – Honestly wasn’t that impressed. Here's a cool iPhone shot though:
28. Isle Royale (MI) – Seeing my first moose! Also, falling into a pond while trying to cross over a 100’ beaver dam that was deemed “trail”. Also, this photo:
29. Voyageurs (MN) – Seeing a bald eagle on a day hike.
30. Teddy Roosevelt (ND) – Camping amidst Bison in Cottonwood Campground.
31. Wind Cave* (SD) - Driving through the bison fields again. I think the highlight was road smores though.
32. Mesa Verde (CO) – Touring ancient archeological ruins. This shot, taken from my campsite in MVNP, sums up most nights on the road.
33. Petrified Forest (AZ) – See that piece of wood little homie is sitting on? That was petrified 225 million years ago.
34. Grand Canyon* (AZ) - Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim
35. Zion* (UT) - Driving through on way to LA. Always good to see that place.
36. Great Basin (NV) – Meditating beaneath a 3000 year old Bristlecone Pine at sunrise. Possibly the coolest experience ever.
37. Death Valley (CA) – Driving through with the windows down in 120 degree weather, while listening to Dark Side of the Moon.
- Calvin Bond