National Parks for a Destination Wish List




While we’re on the subject of gift guides, you must know that my very favorite gift involves experiences—traveling, usually. But Aron and I were talking the other night about how 2015 should perhaps be the year of domestic travel. I’m not ruling out a trip to Asia, should the opportunity arise, but there are so many beautiful places in the U.S. I’ve yet to see. I’d start with some of the 59 National Parks (eight of which happen to be in California!).

The folks at Expedia Viewfinder recently asked me about our plans for the year, so I partnered with them to share some of the amazing National Parks I’ve been to (and hope to return to)—and that you might consider visiting with your family in 2015. And I’ve listed the five I’d most like to see next.


Aron and I did a road trip while we were engaged, in the spring of 2006, and visited Bryce Canyon National Park (with its iconic hoodoos, also pictured at top) and Zion National Park. Along the way, we also visited Monument Valley, an incredible slot canyon, the Las Vegas strip, and the red rocks of Sedona.


Yosemite National Park is a long-time favorite. I’ve written, most recently, about our trip to Yosemite in the fall. I’d love to see it when it’s quiet and covered in snow.


I grew up in Long Beach, California, and on a clear day you could see Catalina—one of the Channel Islands. One of my favorite memories is of backpacking there with friends, in high school. And Aron and I have gone diving off its coast many times—occasionally with sea lions! (That’s Aron off of Anacapa Island in 2004.)



My parents took me to Haleakala National Park on Maui when I was young and my dad and I bicycled down the volcano at sunrise when I was in high school. (It was freezing at the top, but absolutely stunning!) Aron and I had a less successful attempt on our trip to Maui last year.


And it’s been years since I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, except from the air; I’ve always wanted to do a rafting trip there.

Which parks have you been to? Which were your favorite?


I’ve never been to any of these, and would love to plan a trip soon:

Acadia National Park, Maine
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Denali National Park, Alaska

[All photos are my own.]

P.S. A complete list of National Parks.

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