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Reader Participation Day: How Many National Parks Do You Want To Visit In Your Lifetime?


Visiting all, or almost all, of the nearly 400 units of the National Park System is a feat that several dozen people have accomplished or are on the brink of accomplishing.

What drives people to pursue this goal? What are the main benefits and drawbacks?

Is 'bagging all of the national parks' a goal you've set for yourself?   


Of the 58 national parks, I have 7 left to visit.  Visiting all of the parks has been a life time goal, to be completed in the next couple of years.  Why not visit all of these parks?  They are in wonderful places, force you to see America, and make you appreciate nature.  I just visited Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, and Big Bend.  Try walking down the natural entrance in the caverns without being awed. 

I was hoping to visit all of them in the southeast in  my remaining lifetime. But since the southeast includes Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, I'm not so sure I will make it. But I'm trying. Danny

So many great comments. And, just like the parks, a lot of diversity. I particularly agree with KC Traveler, reaching the goal is less important than having the goal. (BTW, does the KC refer to Kansas City perchance; my home base) Anyway, if your goal is to see them all, go for it. If you miss a few, so what? I'll bet you had a fantastic time at the ones you saw anyway. If your goal is to get to know just a few parks intimately great. You may miss out on all the other cool parks but you'll have a fantastic time at your selected park repeatedly. Maybe Carol B has the right philosophy, just make sure you go (somewhere) every year.

I'm not setting any goals OTHER THAN the goal of visiting every year.  We usually go west [from TX] ....because the beauty just captivates us ... repeating the AZ & UT ones at least once a year, this year included.  But if I have to guess, it's about 10-20 per year.  I have no desire to hit them all, like some people who search for all the park stamps.  I'm more interested in just getting to the parks to hike and explore before my knees take me down!

It's not so far fetched to think of trying to visit all 395 parks in your lifetime. And I don't think you have to give up quality to do it. Say you really start visiting the parks when you are 20 (although our daughters have been going to parks since they were about 2 years old) and you live to 80 that's 60 years to see almost 400 parks. So, 6 - 7 parks a year? Pick one or two major sites that you can really spend that quality time and then 5-6 smaller sites that really don't require much more than an afternoon. It's not all that impossible over a lifetime. I'm almost at the half way point (my family has visited 186) and hope that in the next 30 years I can see the other half! No matter if I spend an hour or two weeks, each and every experience has been incredible. I agree with many of the comments on here and Suki, your comments are right on track!

So far i've visited 152 of 395, with 6 more planned for a trip this month. Of those, 35 being the 52 National Parks. I'm a professional photographer in her 20's and have photographed all 35 NP's since 2007. I'll get all of them, just a matter of time. :-)

I prefer quality to quantity. A person who goes to a nationall park for only a day or less, has visited it, but has not really experienced it.

Wow, I didn't realize I'd visited so many until I added them all up. 27 national parks (and countless monuments and historical sites), most of them for a week or more. There are at least a dozen I'd REALLY like to visit that I haven't, but mostly I'd like to spend some more time in some of my favorite ones.  When we retire, we'll spend a lot of time travelling to national parks and wilderness areas - I can't wait!

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