America's Gems - National Parks and Monuments

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” -
— Pulitzer prize winning author, Wallace Stegner - 1983

Since 1916, the US National Park Service (NPS) has been entrusted with the care of America's national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, they safeguard over 400 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 

Rangers and volunteers share America's stories with more than 325 million visitors every year. Once we began visiting US National Parks, Monuments, Landmarks and Historical Sites, we became addicted. They provide so much information about our country's history, culture and geography that it's absolutely amazing and inspiring. Our new goal: visit all the parks. And then revisit, because there's no doubt they're different each time. 

Below find photos for each park we've visited. Interested in more info? We've provided the link to the NPS website and sometimes our own blog. We still have a long way to go, so check back often as we explore the splendor of America.

grand teton national park - jackson lake view - wyoming - 2012

grand teton national park - jackson lake view - wyoming - 2012

Death Valley National Park -  California/Nevada - 2012

Death Valley National Park -  California/Nevada - 2012

bryce canyon national park - red canyon - utah - 2010

bryce canyon national park - red canyon - utah - 2010

Sequoia National Park - California - 2012

Sequoia National Park - California - 2012

Kings canyon National park - California - 2012

Kings canyon National park - California - 2012

badlands national park - South dakota - 2012

badlands national park - South dakota - 2012

Yellowstone National Park - give me a home where the buffalo roam            Wyoming - 2012

Yellowstone National Park - give me a home where the buffalo roam            Wyoming - 2012

Shenandoah national park - virginia - 2010

Shenandoah national park - virginia - 2010

Yosemite National Park - El Capitan - California - 2012                                                                                                                                                                                           

Yosemite National Park - El Capitan - California - 2012            

                                                                                                                                                                              

harper's ferry national historic site - harpers ferry, west virginia -2010

harper's ferry national historic site - harpers ferry, west virginia -2010

Dry Tortugas National Park - Fort Jefferson - Florida - 2001

Dry Tortugas National Park - Fort Jefferson - Florida - 2001

Petrified forest national park - painted desert view - arizona - 2010

Petrified forest national park - painted desert view - arizona - 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado - 2012
zion national park - utah - 2010

zion national park - utah - 2010

Virgin Islands National park - St. John's, Virgin islands - 2003                                             

Virgin Islands National park - St. John's, Virgin islands - 2003                                             

Little BigHorn Battlefield National Monument - site of Custer's Last Stand,  Sheridan, Wyoming - 2012

Little BigHorn Battlefield National Monument - site of Custer's Last Stand,  Sheridan, Wyoming - 2012

Minute man national historic  park                 Lexington & concord, ma - 2012              "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" 

Minute man national historic  park                 Lexington & concord, ma - 2012              "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes

Devil's tower national monument - wyoming, 2012  (remember .... close encounters of the third kind?)

Devil's tower national monument - wyoming, 2012  (remember .... close encounters of the third kind?)

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
— Anonymous
Dinosaur National Monument - Utah/Colorado - 2012

Dinosaur National Monument - Utah/Colorado - 2012

Pompey's Pillar National Monument -on the Lewis & Clark expedition ItineraryMontana - 2012

Pompey's Pillar National Monument -on the Lewis & Clark expedition ItineraryMontana - 2012

Hagerman  fossil beds national monument - hagerman horse - Idaho - 2012

Hagerman  fossil beds national monument - hagerman horse - Idaho - 2012

Jewel Cave national monument - south dakota - 2012

Jewel Cave national monument - south dakota - 2012

mount rushmore national memorial - south dakota - 2012

mount rushmore national memorial - south dakota - 2012

Gettysburg national military park -- Pennsylvania - 2007

Gettysburg national military park -- Pennsylvania - 2007

antietam national battlefield - burnside bridge - maryland - 2010

antietam national battlefield - burnside bridge - maryland - 2010

homestead national monument - beatrice, nebraska - 2010

homestead national monument - beatrice, nebraska - 2010

harry s truman national historic site - independence, missouri - 2010

harry s truman national historic site - independence, missouri - 2010

El morro national monument - new mexico - 2010

El morro national monument - new mexico - 2010

grand staircase escalante national monument - devil's garden - utah - 2010

grand staircase escalante national monument - devil's garden - utah - 2010

Oklahoma city national memorial - oklahoma city, OK - 2016

Oklahoma city national memorial - oklahoma city, OK - 2016

muirs woods national monument - California - 2012                                                                 walking amongst the giant redwoods

muirs woods national monument - California - 2012                                                                 walking amongst the giant redwoods

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
— Gustave Flaubert
Wright Brothers National Memorial - Kitty hawk, north carolina - 2017

Wright Brothers National Memorial - Kitty hawk, north carolina - 2017

colonial national historical park - historic jamestowne - jamestown, VA - 2017

colonial national historical park - historic jamestowne - jamestown, VA - 2017

colonial national historical park - yorktown battlefield - yorktown, VA - 2017

colonial national historical park - yorktown battlefield - yorktown, VA - 2017

"George Washington intended this to be a Federal city, and it is a Federal city, and it tingles down to the feet of every man, whether he comes from Washington State, or Los Angeles, or Texas, when he comes and walks these city streets and begins to feel that this is my city; I own a part of this Capital..." 
  • President William Howard Taft - 1909

Perhaps there is no national park containing so many monuments and historic sites as impressive as our national capital. It inspires patriotism and a swelling of national pride that for just a little while allows us to forget politics and partisanship and remember what we're all about. There's so much more, but here's a sampling. Read about our visit to Washington, DC in several blog posts.

national mall and memorial parks - washington, DC - 2016 - heading for a capitol tour

national mall and memorial parks - washington, DC - 2016 - heading for a capitol tour

There'll be more to come. Check back every once in awhile for more National Parks explorations. In the meantime, here are a few recommendations from the crew. Remember, if you make any Amazon or Lonely Planet purchase through our website, we collect a few pennies without costing you an extra cent and our cruising kitty will thank you for it!