Our family has five travel goals. This post is part of a five-part series of posts that explain more about why our family selected each of our travel bucket list goals. In this post you’ll read more about why we chose seeing national parks, mountains, and other sweeping vistas as a family travel goal.
To see our progress on our travel goals and read about many of our travel destinations, you can look here. To get more bucket list ideas for your family, you can read our list of family travel bucket list ideas.
Links to the rest of this series can be found below:
Explore More of Our Own “Backyard” (Coming soon!)
Why did we select this bucket list goal?
While we often tend to get our mountain and sweeping vista fix in national parks, these views can be found outside national parks as well, in state parks, recreation areas, and just driving around on back roads and highways. In this post I will talk most about national parks.
There are many reasons why our family has a goal of visiting as many national parks, mountains and sweeping vistas as we can in our travels.
- Mother Nature is astounding: I’ve seen a lot of impressive man-made wonders, and in my mind they never come close to the wonder that is nature.
- They are family-friendly places for older kids: Our kids have grown to love hiking and photography. What better place to do those things than in amazing scenery?
- They are affordable: A National Park pass is very affordable for the amount of “wow” factor we get by going. And many sweeping vistas are available to see and frolic in for free!
- Family bonding: When you stand and behold a natural wonder surrounded by loved ones, that “whoa” reaction is multiplied. It’s awesome to share it with your kids for the first time (or second…or more).
What is challenging about this bucket list goal?
There are a few challenges we have come across when working toward this travel goal.
- Weather: To state the obvious, you are at Mother Nature’s mercy in the great outdoors. Sometimes Mother Nature isn’t as cooperative as we’d like. Case in point: our recent trip to California to see Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks. You can read about all that Mother Nature threw at us in one trip here.
- The sheer enormity of these areas: National Parks often have a lot of real estate you could take in. It’s tough to feel like you’re even scratching the surface unless you have several days to visit.
- Accessibility without a car: It’s pretty difficult to get to a national park without a car in most places. That’s why we were able to visit a few national parks when we rented a car in Australia and New Zealand, but not when we relied on trains in Europe. In the US it’s almost impossible to get to a national park without a car (except in rare instances, like the fact that Amtrak stops at Glacier National Park, or via a tour).
What is our status on reaching this goal?
We haven’t explicitly named a “countable” goal here, like visiting all of the National Parks in the US. It’s simply a goal that, when we go somewhere new, we would like to scope out national parks and other sweeping vistas. We haven’t gotten a good exact “count” on how many of these places we’ve been.
For US National Parks, the kids have both had National Park passports their whole lives. They have seen the following parks with us:
- Badlands NP, South Dakota
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
- Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota
- Wind Cave NP, South Dakota
- Arches NP (x3), Utah
- Canyonlands NP (x2), Utah
- Bryce NP, Utah
- Zion NP, Utah
- Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado
- Rocky Mountain NP, Colorado
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Colorado
- Mesa Verde NP, Colorado
- Grand Canyon NP, Arizona
- Sequoia NP, California
- Kings Canyon NP, California,
- Yosemite NP, California
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
In addition, we have been with our son to Yellowstone (Wyoming) and Grand Teton (Wyoming) before our daughter was born. Individually, my husband and I have been to several other National Parks in the US, and our son probably went to some national parks or monuments during a school trip in the Washington DC area (though he did not have his National Park passport with him to mark them off).
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Where do we want to go next for this goal?
Good question.This goal is pretty dependent on other goals of ours, specifically our goal to visit all 50 states and all seven continents. Depending on where those travels take us next, we will be drawn immediately to the natural wonders to be seen in those areas. Stay tuned. 🙂
One goal we do have is to visit more of the grandeur that our home state, Minnesota, has to offer. Minnesota has one national park, Voyageurs, which we have yet to visit. In fairness, it’s very far from where we live and extremely remote. Beyond Voyageurs, Minnesota has the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, an abundance of lakes (over 11,000 of them), beautiful river valleys along the Mississippi, St. Croix, and Root Rivers (to name a few), and amazing river gorges that empty in dramatic fashion into Lake Superior. We are going to be more intentional about exploring this beautiful state.