U.S. National Parks: Top Picks from 2021

As we were outlining our 2021 travel plans, especially in the months before we were able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, we decided to once again prioritize visiting national parks and other sites where we could spend our time outdoors.

This took us to:

Top Picks and Tips

  • I really enjoyed experiencing these parks year-round and was especially mesmerized by the snow dusting the Grand Canyon during our visit in February. We prefer lower temperatures and fewer people so I see lots of winter/off-season park visits in our future!
  • The annual national parks pass works for more than just national parks – we had some pretty incredible visits to national monuments and recreation areas that I think we sometimes overlook on the quest for new national parks. I’m looking forward to adding more of those to our itineraries.
  • I can get caught up in seeing entirely new places instead of exploring something new about a place I’ve already been. Living close to Mt. Rainier and hiking there in all four season this year has reminded me how vastly different a place can be based on the time of year – from the flora and fauna, to the number of people, to the weather and summit visibility.
  • Along those lines, how you travel to and through a place can also result in an entirely different experience. While we drove a rental car through Redwood National Park more than 10 years ago, riding our motorcycles among the towering trees gave me a completely new perspective.

We’re looking forward to time in the great outdoors again in 2022 and have booked trips to several new-to-us parks and monuments as well as a few we haven’t visited in a long time, including:

  • Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
  • Haleakala National Park (Hawaii)
  • Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
  • Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)
  • Jewel Cave National Monument (South Dakota)
  • Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming)
  • Fossil Butte National Monument (Wyoming)
  • Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (Washington)

What national parks/monuments/forests/recreation areas are on your bucket list? What top picks or tips would you share based on your experiences?

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