Labor Day weekend is upon us, spelling the unofficial end of summer vacations. The end of days lazing beneath the sun, drinking refreshingly cool peach tea and icy cool water by the pool, playing all day in the fresh outdoors and going for a swim when too hot. Oh wait, that’s the kids, not me! I’m busy working – watching them enviously.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. Though our travel budget was tight this summer, we still got away on not one, but two summer vacations. No grandiose travel plans as in previous summers. Instead, this year’s travel revolved around several budget friendly destinations – all part of the Winter Activities at Yellowstone National Park.
A summer doesn’t go by where we haven’t exploring at least one National Park Service destination, and this summer was a banner year. Why do we visit these destinations year after year? There are so many reasons, that this blog would become a novel. Oh wait – I’ve already written about why we visit. Check out Eight Reasons to Visit A National Park.
Just how many destination possibilities are there within the National Parks Service (NPS)? It all depends on how you count them. If you include national monuments, battlefields and other historical sites, there are currently 397, and counting, and span across every state in the U.S.A. If you count only those officially titled, National Park, then there are 58. Either way you count them, the NPS provides a vast opportunity for budget-friendly travel reachable from practically every corner in the United States.
Poll – Ten Most Visited National Parks
To date, our family has traveled to countless NPS sites, including fourteen National Parks. Five of these parks happen to be among the top ten most visited National Parks. These “top ten” just seem to call to us, begging us year after year to visit them. Who knows which National Park will call the loudest next!
Summer is also the most popular time to visit a national park. How many Top Ten Most Visited National Parks have you visited? Check all that apply!
While you’re at it, let everyone know your favorite Park by writing it into the “Other” box. Everyone has their own personal favorite. What’s yours?
Our 2012 National Park Service Destinations
Alas, Labor Day also spells the end of our own summer run of NPS adventures. Just in case you are curious about our NPS travels this year, they have included the following:
Denali National Park – Just a short touch down on a glacier, but hey, those thirty minutes were incredible! Not to mention the fly-by around Mount McKinley! Ok, this was late spring, but close enough!
Acadia National Park – Yep, we hit a Top Ten this summer! Spent seven glorious days exploring Mount Desert Island by hiking, biking and a little bit of kayaking.
Gettysburg National Military Park – A long awaited weekend complete with July 4th activities. My son drooled watching the soldiers’ demonstrations.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Having grown up near here, I didn’t appreciate this beauty until moving quite a distance away. Photos don’t do this area justice.
And yet to come in 2012 – Hawaii’s Haleakala National Park. Can’t wait!
We also added several more National Historic Landmarks, Parks,and National Register of Historical Places to our ever growing list:
Mackinac Island and Fort Mackinac – A treasure trove of fun.
Fort Michilimackinac – A “kid favorite” between the fort itself, the cannon firings and the baggatiway ball game.
Keweenaw National Historical Park – So much to do, we didn’t didn’t get to “it all” though vastly enjoyed what we did see.
Stick around in the coming months as I “switch up” my travel blog posts just a little bit. I would love to share our own travel experiences, so I will be writing more about the destinations we have enjoyed, and perhaps a few we didn’t. I’ll let you know why I think a destination is worth your while. Or not!
In closing, yes, we are a family that loves to travel. We are also a family on a budget, maximizing every dollar we can on our travels.
So where did you go? Did you travel this summer? Did you experience the beauty that the United States National Park Service offers? Let us know in the Comments section below.