Saturday, April 21, 2012

U.S. National Park Week: Part 1

From April 21-29, 2012, it's National Park Week in the U.S.A. That means you get free admission at all national parks plus special discounts at selected parks. We're a family that visited National Parks every summer until we ended up moving to Malaysia (where we happen to live just 20 minutes away from the smallest Malaysian National Park).

In some ways, I always thought our park visits were a little strange. We are not folks who normally go out on weekend family hikes. We typically spend our free time baking in the kitchen or maybe tinkering with LEGO robotics. But our big vacations always seem to lead us to National Parks.

Over time, I have figured out that even though the kids were small when we started, we've created lasting memories. When my oldest boy studied ancient American civilizations in Social Studies, he couldn't wait to bring in some photos from our trip to Mesa Verde National Park which was home to the Pueblo Cliff Dwellers in Colorado. My younger boy once started babbling on about riding on a boat, eating a hamburger, watching whales, sleeping in a log cabin and eating pancakes. At first (only halfway listening), I thought he was telling me about a dream. He insisted it was real. Then, I realized he was describing our trip from Canada's Victoria Island to Olympic National Park in Washington state that we took when he was only 4-years-old. He made it sound so magical. What kid couldn't love it?

Here are some of my favorite pictures from past trips to U.S. National Parks. I hope that one day, you'll make some time to see some, too.

Olympic National Park, Washington - 2007
With Pacific coast beaches, temperate rainforest, and alpine areas, this place is like three parks in one. Twilight fans have an extra bonus since Forks is reached by driving through the park.

Rialto Beach

Easy alpine trail on Hurricane Ridge

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado - 2008
This park is best known for the cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo people. It has everything from hikes so easy a 3-year-old can do it, to more challenging ones that involve climbing ladders up to the cliff side condos.

Spruce Tree House

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado - 2008
This is the home of the tallest sand dunes in North America. The sand gets blazing hot by midday in the summer, so plan on visiting early in the morning. Afterwards, cool off in Medano Creek that runs by the Visitor's Parking.

Can you see that tiny speck of a person just right of center
on the Great Sand Dunes?

Acadia National Park, Maine - 2009
On top of Cadillac Mountain, be one of the first people in America to watch the sun rise for the day. Enjoy popovers and tea at Jordan Pond House. See the rugged Maine coastline and eat lobster. Ahh....

Grabbing some sun on Cadillac Mountain

Post-prandial stroll around Jordan Pond

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I'll cover a few parks in Hawaii and Sequoia National Park in California.

This post is part of Friday DayDreamin at R We There Yet Mom?


  1. I miss national parks that are easy to get around, feel safe and are well marked. These photos are beautiful.

  2. Wonderful post and beautiful pictures! I love that your family spent summers visiting National Parks. We haven't visited any of these parks yet and would love to see Mesa Verde especially. Happy National Park Week from across the world!

  3. How great that you have been to so many of these parks! I am jealous! Thank you for linking up with us this week- hope you join us every week!


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