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Reader Participation Survey: Help Us Name the Top 100 National Park Locations to See Before You Die


Earlier this week we touched on the national parks mentioned in the book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Somehow, Mammoth Cave National Park didn't make the cut, and if you've been there, you know it should have. Help us compile a list of the top 100 national park locations to see before you die. We'll start the list.

* Mammoth Cave National Park. The longest cave in the world -- and still with no end in sight! -- this underground labyrinth presents geologic wonders sculpted down through the millenia by trickling waters.

* Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park. This geyser has been amazing viewers for hundreds of years.

* Half Dome, Yosemite National Park. Just making the trek to the top of this granite dome is something you'll never forget. Gazing down into the Yosemite Valley is another marvel.

* Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park. Why the architects of the cliff dwellings that drape Mesa Verde fled the region continues to be a mystery. Today the dwellings are a showcase of the tenacity and ingenuity of a long ago society.

* Logan Pass, Glacier National Park. While the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a main attraction for those visiting Glacier, stopping atop Logan Pass to snap photos of the ever-present mountain goats and to look at the whittling long-ago glaciers did to the surrounding mountains is an image that stays with you long after your vacation ends.

* The Racetrack, Death Valley National Park. True, it takes some determination to reach the Race Track, but when you pass Tea Kettle Junction and finally reach the playa with its rocks that mysteriously snake across the landscape, you're left with a mystery that you'll talk about for years.

* Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park. An idyllic setting on an island that is idyllic on its own, the pond and its pond house, where you can snack on over-sized popovers smothered with strawberry jam, or stick around for a lobster dinner, is one of the iconic settings in the National Park System.


Canyonlands National Park is my all time favorite. We did a multi-day canoe trip down the Green River and it still ranks number one on my list of vacations. The scenery is stunning.

While I agree that Death Valley should be on the list, if you have a high clearance vehicle and can make it to the Racetrack, you can get to plenty of other gorgeous places that are off the beaten path. Last March, we drove up Trail Canyon Road off West Side Road and camped above the valley across from Artist's Point. It was stunning.

Can you put a finer point on that Canyonlands recommendation, Island Paddler? All parks are places, of course, but many nature-based national parks are very big, with hundreds of meritorious sites. So..... what place/site in Canyonlands are you recommending for the "must see" list?

I'd add spring in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the list. Sunrise from Clingman's Dome can be incredible on the right morning. The wildflowers are incredible on the roadsides and trails.

If you hike up to Half Dome, go up via the mist trail. Even if Half Dome is out of your reach go to the top of Nevada Falls and take the John Muir trail back down. Bring rain gear. If the sun is shining you will see a rainbow at Vernal Falls.
If you go to Yellowstone you must see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. All the view points are worth going to, but Artist Point is the must see.
Hike up Old Rag in the Shenandoah NP. You must do the trail that starts outside the park. I've never had more fun on a hike.

Hall of Mosses, Olympic National Park. The iconic temperate rainforest scenery.

Mist Trail at Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park. 360 degree rainbows, stunning waterfall, staircase through the mist...

Empire Bluff, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 400 feet directly above Lake Michigan with dunes stretching to the north and the Manitou Islands on the horizon. Best sunsets in the Midwest.

To Bob,

The river was the highlight. We didn't drive around the park, but rather paddled down the Green River. Just the two of us in a canoe we rented from Texas Riverways in Moab. They drove us to the put in. We met up with their jet boat just past the confluence with the Colorado for a jet boat trip back up the Colorado.

I can't think of any particular section of the river that was more stunning than the rest. I just liked all those red rocks and peacefulness. While there were other canoers on the river, we camped each night by ourselves on some sandy beach.

It was an easy trip. No rapids, but all that lovely scenery. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if we didn't have plenty of other places to see before we get too decrepit to do these types of trips.

Sorry I can't be more specific, but it really was the river.

I would agree the Mist Trail at Yosemite is great. For dramatic views and landscape, Burroughs Mountain Trail at Mount Rainier is spectacular. For family fun and adventure, the mule ride into the Grand Canyon is as good as it gets.

Joshua Tree National Park! Such an ALIVE desert! The rock formations seem otherworldly. The beautiful displays of flowers in springtime are wonderful. Bird watching, and plenty of lizards to boot! Plus the historical aspects - mining and ranching still has some artifacts intact. There are subtle clues at to the native population, for those who know how to read them. Quiet hiking, rock climbing.... And gigantic back country areas where you will not see another human - or their litter - for the entire time out! Joshua Tree really is a wonderful place!

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