Reader Participation Day: If Cost Were No Object, Which National Park Would You Visit?

If cost weren't an issue, would you head to Crystal Lake in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve? Photo copyright QT Luoug,, used with permission.

We all harbor pipe dreams, ambitions that are so far out there they can best be described as dreams. With 392 units in the National Park System, it certainly can be considered a pipe dream to visit each one. But let's turn dreams to realities. If you could visit only one, which would it be?

That's right. If someone were willing to pay all your expenses, which unit of the National Park System would you choose to visit? I've long had a trip to Alaska on my to-do list, with a visit to either Wrangell-St. Elias or Lake Clark national parks. But then, visiting Hawaii Volcanoes would be nice, too, as would a canoe trip in Voyageurs National Park.

So, where would you head and why?


My first inclination is to say ALASKA with all of her beautiful wilderness areas. THAT is actually on the radar however for us. We are trying to visit the National Parks on their Centennials (we'll be in Glacier this summer and Rocky Mt in 2015, Lord willing). In 2016, Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala will be celebrating theirs. I was impressed with Dayton Duncan's emotion as he described being an eyewitness to new land being birthed out of the lava flows, as we watched the Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan America's National Parks special. As a lover of all things history i would HAVE to go to Pearl Harbor and attempt to soak in the sacredness of that place.

Denali would be my first choice.

Katmai National Park to see the amazing brown bears fishing in the waterfalls.

American Samoa

Yeah would have to say something like Gates of the Arctic.

If I can have only one choice it would probably be American Samoa.

I'm going with a guided trip to Gates of the Arctic. I'd love to see it and don't feel prepared to do it on my own.

Easy. Gates of the Arctic, hands down. Maybe on the same summer trip, I'd hike into Kobuk Valley and spend a month or two down at Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark and Katmai before I fly back to Colorado.

Kurt, I'm all for Alaska. When we going?


Gates of the Arctic or Wrangels St. Elias!

I've seen the Arizona Memorial and the various memorials of D.C. Crater Lake, Rainier, Olympic are all local to me. I will visit American Samoa later this year. With those eliminated I would have to say that Alaska's parks call to me the most.

Isle Royale, then Glacier.

I would either go Alaska or American Samoa. There are other parks that are higher on my to do list but the cost to visit them is alot less.

We'll be visiting Denali, Wrangell and Kenai in just a couple of months and that's my dream come true. My next "dream" park would be Katmai.

Alaska parks are tempting, but the weather would make up for the lack of wild life in Hawaii with Volcanoes NP, Kaloko NP, Haleakala NP, etc.

Decisions - Decisions. As much as I would like to say Hawaii, I think that Denali would be my choice. The splendor of seeing the mountain and it's wildlife are overpowering. Although a trip to Hawaii's Volcano National Park would give me a glimpse at what Mother Nature might be building, seeing what she all ready made seems more attractive.

It would be serious, in-depth tours of all of Alaska's parks. Maybe a month or two off and spend a solid week minimum in each major park and multiple days in the smaller ones.

Wow, so many parks; so little time to do them all justice. And each one with it's own intrinsic beauty and character. I intend to visit as many as I possibly can. So, with that in mind, I think I'd like to visit the Hawaii Volcanoes.

I've been to 99 different national park units (according to the PBS national park widget [g]), including some of the ones in Alaska. But my favorites are still Mt. Rainier (practically in my backyard) and Yellowstone (which I've been to eight times in the last 10 years).

Well I've done Hawai'i, and the Alaska parks are my first inclination but instead I'm going to say Dry Tortugas! Gotta mix it up a little bit.

I like your style, ranger!

I'll have to go with the majority here and throw my vote in for Gates of the Arctic. American Samoa would be my second choice, but the costs could be defrayed by the Home Stay program, which is to me the best reason for visiting. Third choice would be Theodore Roosevelt National Park, only because it's so far removed from anything else in the National Park system. If you go there, you definitely plan on going *there*.

However, after seeing the Ken Burns documentary, I'm *dying* to go rafting through Dinosaur National Monument. Can someone pay my way? Thanks. :-)

P.S. Off the subject, but just what the heck is Great Falls? Is it actually a new National Park, or simply a "Park" as it's listed on the NPS website? I don't know of anyplace else in the system that is just a "Park," as opposed to a National Park, National Historical Park and/or Site, etc. I'm confused.

I have been to every national park unit in Alaska and a lesser number in the Lower 48 and Hawaii. All have something special that makes them memorable. However, if I had to choose one it would be Katmai National Park and Preserve in southwestern Alaska. No other park equals it in terms of a dramatic combination of dramatic mega fauna, volcanism, spawning ground for billions of anadromous fish, pure wilderness and major cultural sites. It is not a convenient park to visit, but there is none other so rewarding of those who make the effort to see and experience it.

Great Falls Park is the northernmost site of the George Washington Memorial Parkway which is made up of more than 20 sites along the Potomac River. This is one of those National Park units that make it complicated when talking about how many total units there are to visit. I'm not a passport stamp collector but those people really get into stuff like this. You can find more info here

I've worked for the NPS for 30 years now and have visited many of the different park units throughout the system. Theodore Roosevelt, Great Smokies, and Big Bend are some of my favorites. But if I had a shot at an all expenses paid trip I would have to go for a motorcycle tour of Ireland's six National Parks - with a visit to Glenveagh NP and the Derryveagh Mountains the #1 stop. I know it's not in "The National Park system", but it's in a national park system and would make a great retirement gift.

Denali would be first on my bucket list, but I would jump at the chance to climb Katahdin again. It was a spiritual experience.

I am going to Alaska this August and going to Denali so I would have to choose Katmai which at this time I will not be able to fit into my trip.