Our National Park Status and Recommendations

Updated: October 7, 2009

“Which National Park is our favorite?”
We have visited 47 of the present 58 National Parks. We say present because it seems every few years, congress establishes a new park. Usually changing a National Monument to a National Park. We have been asked many times which park we liked best. After much discussion, Judy and I have put together our rating list. Naturally it is based on what we want and use in the NP. Basically we like a NP which is strong on nature, interesting and different; be able to tour the park in a car on paved or gravel roads; hike on easy and moderate trails; attend ranger talks, slide and video presentations. We also like to just sit and listen to the quiet of a beautiful scene or an animal grazing.

We have never been disappointed in any of the parks or park personnel. All of the rangers are eager to help and are very knowledgeable and are proud of their park.

We must state at this time that we did not have the time or means to travel/hike on every trail or see every one of the sights in every park. So keep that in mind while reviewing our ratings. Our ratings are on what we did while in the parks. We enjoy hiking on easy and moderate trails and just sitting and watching nature. Our most strenuous was a hike down to Indian Gardens in the Grand Canyon.

We also strongly recommend that you read about the park before you go. We highly recommend National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks. It contains a description of the park, a park map, important phone numbers, and a very accurate explanation of what to do on half or full day tours.

Some of the parks were visited while on a cruise ship.
Most parks were visited using our RV.

We rated the parks from 1 to 5.
5 = a park we really enjoyed and would like to return again and again.
4 = a park we really enjoyed and would like to return to again.
3 = a park we enjoyed and would return if we were driving by.
2 = a park we enjoyed but would not return
1 = an interesting park but would not return

Rating

Name

State

Visit

Year Visited

5

Acadia NP

ME

yes

74, 90, 00, 03

5

Bryce Canyon NP

UT

yes

1987, 2007

5

Capitol Reef NP

UT

yes

2006, 07, 09

5

Death Valley NP

CA

yes

2006

5

Denali NP

AK

yes

2004

5

Glacier NP

MT

yes

87, 02, 09

5

Grand Canyon NP - South Rim

AZ

yes

58, 60, 75, 87, 07

5

Grand Canyon NP - North Rim

AZ

yes

2007

5

Grand Teton NP

WY

yes

2004

5

Redwood NP

CA

yes

2002

5

Sequoia & Kings Canyon NPs

CA

yes

1975, 2009

5

Yellowstone NP

WY

yes

87, 2004

5

Yosemite NP

CA

yes

2006

5

Zion NP

UT

yes

2002

4

Arches NP

UT

yes

2002

4

Big Bend NP

TX

yes

2006

4

Joshua Tree NP

CA

yes

2006

4

Lassen Volcanic NP

CA

yes

2006

4

Mesa Verde NP

CO

yes

2002

4

Mount Rainier NP

WA

yes

2002

4

Olympic NP

WA

yes

2002

4

Rocky Mountain NP

CO

yes

1975

3

Badlands NP

SD

yes

2002

3

Canyonlands NP

UT

yes

2002

3

Carlsbad Caverns NP

NM

yes

2006

3

Crater Lake NP

OR

yes

2002

3

Glacier Bay NP

AK

yes

1995

3

Great Smoky Mountains NP

NC/TN

yes

1988

3

Hawaii Volcanoes NP

HI

yes

2000

3

Kenai Fjords NP

AK

yes

2004

3

Saguaro NP

AZ

yes

2006, 07

3

Virgin Islands NP

USVI

yes

83, 89, 94

2

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

CO

yes

2006

2

Everglades NP

FL

yes

80, 03

2

Great Sand Dunes NP

CO

yes

2006

2

Guadalupe Mountains NP

TX

yes

2006

2

Hot Springs NP

AR

yes

2005

2

Mammoth Cave NP

KY

yes

2001

2

North Cascades NP

WA

yes

2002

2

Shenandoah NP

VA

yes

1966

2

Theodore Roosevelt NP

ND

yes

2004

1

Congaree NP

SC

yes

2007

1

Cuyahoga Valley NP

OH

yes

2005

1

Great Basin NP

NV

yes

2006

1

Petrified Forest NP

AZ

yes

58, 60, 75, 87

1

Wind Cave NP

SD

yes

2002

1

Wrangell-St. Elias NP

AK

yes

2004

-

American Samoa NP

Pacific

can't

Need Boat or Plane

-

Biscayne NP

FL

can't

Need Boat

-

Channel Islands NP

CA

can't

Need Boat or Plane

-

Dry Tortugas NP

FL

can't

Need Boat

-

Gates of the Arctic NP

AK

can't

Need SUV or Plane

-

Haleakala NP

HI

can't

Need Boat or Plane

-

Isle Royale NP

MI

can't

Need Boat

-

Katmai NP (King Salmon)

AK

can't

Need Boat or Plane

-

Kobuk Valley NP (Kotzebue)

AK

can't

Need Boat or Plane

-

Lake Clark NP (Port Alsworth)

AK

can't

Need Boat or Plane

-

Voyageurs NP

MN

can't

Need Boat