NATIONAL PARKS ARE FOR LOVERS
My wife and I love the outdoors. We love the feeling of being in the woods, scaling mountains, and dipping our toes in rivers and waterfalls. As a result, we have set out to visit all 62 national parks. Currently, we have visited about 13% of them in 2 years. Along the way, we've learned a thing or two about camping, hiking, and visiting our nation's most scenic parks. If you want to see more of our adventures, keep scrolling.
Our journey by the numbers:
8 National Parks Visited
5,132 miles driven
2 annual parks passes
4 seasons camping
Favorite Hike: Delicate Arch, 3.1 miles out and back, moderate
Favorite Memory: The first time I went to Arches with my wife was when I went to propose to her. Arches is one of her favorite places on the planet, partly because of the red rocks and visual splendor, but also because of her many childhood camping trips with her family. To make it a surprise, I organized a trip for her with he roommate, without her knowing it, and drove down in the middle of the night with my best friends. She appeared around the bend to see Delicate Arch, where I was waiting with a bouquet of sunflowers, her favorite flower, underneath the massive arch. The funny part was that she didn’t even notice I was there for about 5 minutes, and when her roommate prodded her to go down to the arch to take a picture, she told her “we can’t go down there, someone is going to propose!” And then it hit her, and that’s where we got engaged.
Advice: The best proposals in Arches happen at sunrise at Delicate Arch.
Favorite Hike: Half Dome Trail, 17.2 mile out and back, Extremely Hard
Favorite Memory: When my wife and I lived in San Francisco for 3 months, we tried to make the most of every minute. When I wasn’t at my internship in the city, we were exploring the Bay Area and the National Parks nearby. Our first one that we visited that summer was Yosemite, and it left us speechless. Yosemite breathes life into its visitors with towering granite cliffs, numberless redwoods, and scenic waterfalls. It’s literally all of my favorite things wrapped into one park. My favorite single memory was after we scrambled over the boulders at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls, and we were just sitting on a rock, with our feet in the river, sitting amongst the redwoods, and everything was perfect.
Advice: If you want to avoid literal tears and shaky legs on the hike down the Half Dome Summit, make sure you at least train for a few weeks before the hike itself. Also, hang on for dear life to the cables.
Favorite Hike: Sulfur Creek Route, 11.5 mile out and back, easy
Favorite Memory: When we decided to take the President’s day holiday to go to Southern Utah, I thought that the February weather would be somewhat warm, even pleasant. But I was wrong, we were all wrong, and we awoke on our last morning to a snowstorm that didn’t quit until we arrived home 6 hours later. We spent three days at the park, camping in the frigid temperatures that froze our water and hiking a half frozen trail that ran alongside an icy river. It was amazing, and crazy, and cold, and we loved it.
Advice: If you want to find out how fast a cracked egg can freeze to a bowl, go camping here in February.
Favorite Hike: General Grant Trail, 0.5 miles out and back, extremely easy
Favorite Memory: King's Canyon and Sequoia National Park border each other and both offer spectacular glimpses into a seemingly prehistoric world. A few memories come to mind from our weekend there. The first, and happier moment, came from sleeping without a rain fly, allowing us a surreal window into the night sky. We woke up under a group of four massive redwoods, looking down on us as if they were welcoming us to their world. The second, and perhaps saddest memory, was purchasing a small, Sequoia tree plant that we named Dendron, after the scientific name for the tree. But he was short-lived, as we were unable to keep him alive. Next time we won’t make that mistake again.
Advice: If you want to raise a Sequoia tree from its infancy, make sure you have a game plan for keeping it alive after you buy it.
Favorite Hike: Angel's Landing, 5.0 miles out and back, Hard
Favorite Memory: Our first time to Zion together was the first time that I hiked Angel’s landing. Man oh man, was it a doozie. I don’t really get afraid of heights, but when I grabbed the chains that are drilled into the wall, specifically to help people not fall to their deaths, it hit me. And then it hit me again, but in a different way, when I reached the top. However, the most interesting part of that trip was the massive rain storm that almost flooded our tent. We had to divert the falling rain with our small hatchet and sticks, and when we awoke in the morning, hundreds of worms held fast to almost every inch of surface area on our tent.
Advice: If you want to harvest pet worms, visit South Campground at the mouth of Zion canyon during a rainstorm on the first weekend of April.
Favorite Hike: Anywhere we went to take our bridal photos
Favorite Memory: Admittedly, we didn’t really go to Canyonlands to hike or camp. We found ourselves down there to take our bridal photos a few months after we got engaged at Arches National Park. We decided on Canyonlands because of the expansive views and serene beauty, and because we didn’t want our photos to be necessarily normal. We fell in love taking day trips and camping trips to Southern Utah, so we couldn’t think of a better place that represented the red rock than Canyonlands.
Advice: If you don’t want to perish to your death, don’t take pictures close to the edge of the cliffs when the wind is blowing. If you want to take epic photos in places that only a former parks ranger-turned photographer will know how to get to, let us know. We have her contact info.
Favorite Hike: Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trail, 2.6 miles out and back, Hard
Favorite Memory: I had always wanted to visit Bryce, with the insane-looking red rocks and hoodoo formations. We had been to Goblin Valley State Park here in Utah but when we got to Bryce, it was a different world. We scurried down the foot-carved path into the hoodoo world that is Bryce. I kept looking around, and every view got better as we ventured through the hoodoos. It was one of those moments of complete awe, a moment that you need to experience for yourself to understand.
Advice: If you want to experience what it's like to travel to Mars, visit Bryce Canyon.