A Complete List of the National Parks I Scampered Through in 2018

At the beginning of 2018, my number one goal for the year was to visit at least 25 U.S. National Park units. That seemed like a lot, especially since I didn’t have a single trip booked, just a few vague ideas about maybe taking myself to the Grand Canyon for my birthday or finally getting to see Crater Lake on my annual trip to Oregon.

Somehow it all worked out and I managed to get myself to 31 national parks spread across eight states and Washington, D.C. It was my best year of national park travel to date, with impactful adventures that I’m still reeling from, even months later. They’re changing me, these parks, bit by bit.

JANUARY

1. HERBERT HOOVER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE – Iowa – Jan. 19 — Work sent me to Iowa in the dead of winter, when it was, according to my friend who lives there, “cold even by Iowa standards.” Still, I managed to see one of the state’s two national parks.

2. GUILFORD COURTHOUSE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK – North Carolina – Jan. 26.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park || TERRAGOES.COM

3. GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – North Carolina – Jan. 27— This was a farewell tour for me and my ex and the trip didn’t include nearly enough time in the mountains. Fingers crossed I can make it back down there in the next month or so.

Saguaro National Park || terragoes.com

MARCH

4. SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK – Arizona – March 8-9 – The first stop on my solo birthday trip to Arizona!

5. CASA GRAND RUINS NATIONAL MONUMENT – Arizona – March 9.

6. SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO NATIONAL MONUMENT – Arizona – March 10.

Wupatki National Monument || terragoes.com

7. WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT – Arizona – March 10 — This is maybe the most haunted place I’ve ever been, but in the best sort of way.

8. PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK – Arizona – March 11 – The park was rainy and empty when I got there early in the morning and the wet allowed me to collect a rainbow of mud on my hiking shoes.

The South Kaibab Trail @ Grand Canyon National Park || terragoes.com

9. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK – Arizona – March 12 – Walking into the Grand Canyon on my birthday is maybe one of the best ways I’ve ever spent a birthday.

10. MONTEZUMA CASTLE NATIONAL MONUMENT – Arizona – March 13.

11. RICHMOND NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK – Virginia – March 17, April 22 & April 28 – This park is headquartered inside the city limits, at Tredegar Iron Works, but it’s made up of smaller units located in and around the city. I’d really like to knock out a few more visits in 2019 and then put together a guide on the little units.

Browns Gap Hike @ Shenandoah National Park || terragoes.com

12. SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK – Virginia – March 31 & December 20 – Both of 2018’s visits to Shenandoah were waterfall-related and, best of all, I was finally able to take my best bitch for a hike there a few weeks ago.

APRIL

13. PRINCE WILLIAM FOREST PARK – Virginia – April 8.

14. FREDERICK DOUGLASS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE – Washington, D.C. – April 24 – I snuck this visit in while traveling to Maryland for work and took my friend Laura with me.

MAY

15. HARPER’S FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK – West Virginia – May 12.

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument || terragoes.com

16. BELMONT-PAUL WOMEN’S EQUALITY NATIONAL MONUMENT – Washington, D.C. – May 13 – I was covering a bike ride for work that finished in D.C. and the schedule allowed me just enough time to sneak in a visit to this site, one of the newest national parks.

17. LINCOLN MEMORIAL – Washington, D.C. – May 13.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore || terragoes.com

18. CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE – North Carolina – May 24 – I hadn’t been to the Outer Banks in years so when a lull in my insane work schedule appeared, I booked an impromptu trip, threw the wolves in the car and went.

19. FORT RALEIGH NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE – North Carolina – May 24.

20. WRIGHT BROTHERS NATIONAL MONUMENT – North Carolina – May 25.

Booker T. Washington National Monument || terragoes.com

JUNE

21. BOOKER T. WASHINGTON NATIONAL MONUMENT – Virginia – June 5 — I met a turkey named Turkules here.

JULY

22. INDEPENDENCE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK – Pennsylvania – July 21 – I spent a long weekend doing all the park things with my friend Tara, who lives in Philadelphia.

23. THADDEUS KOSCIUSZKO NATIONAL MEMORIAL – Pennsylvania – July 21.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site || terragoes.com

24. EDGAR ALLAN POE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE – Pennsylvania – July 21.

25. VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK – Pennsylvania – July 22.

AUGUST

26. CEDAR CREEK & BELLE GROVE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK – Virginia – Aug. 15 – On the way to West Virginia for work, I stopped here to check out the Belle Grove mansion.

27. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK – Washington – Aug. 25-27 – I go to Oregon every year to see my best bitch and when Crater Lake was filled with smoke from the forest fires, we headed north instead, to Olympic.

SEPTEMBER

28. THEODORE ROOSEVELT INAUGURAL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE – New York – Sept. 4.

OCTOBER

29. JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK – California – Oct. 21 – In the midst of a weekend away in Palm Springs, I grabbed three beautiful lady friends and headed to Joshua Tree, a park I’d been trying to get back to for years.

30. DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK – California – Oct. 22-25 – This place is my favorite. I still can’t stop thinking about it.

31. MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE – California – Oct. 25.


BY THE NUMBERS

  • 8 STATES + D.C. — Arizona, California, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania , Virginia, Washington
  • 31 Total National Park units, including:
    • 8 National Parks
    • 7 National Monuments
    • 6 National Historic Sites
    • 4 National Historical Parks
    • 2 National Memorials
    • 1 National Seashore
    • 1 National Military Park
    • 1 National Battlefield Park
    • 1 National Preserve

Where should I go this year?

14 comments Add yours
  1. AMAZING! It’s so cool that you started out the year with nothing planned but you ended up surpassing it. From sheer curiosity and desire, you made it happen and it was exactly what you needed. That’s beautiful. What a impactful quest you’re on. Thank you for sharing it with us! Hmm for this year, could you visit a state you’ve never been and do a road trip to different places like you did in Arizona? Maybe Utah or Tennessee?

    1. I really, really want to get to Utah. That’s a goal this year for sure and even if I only have time to visit one of the parks out there, I really want to go. It looks insanely beautiful.

      1. If you got to Utah, make sure you spend some time on the adjacent BLM lands too. They’re just as pretty and have far fewer people. The Bears Ears region (the original national monument boundaries, at least) is one of the coolest places in the country, as is Grand Staircase-Escalante. If the happenstance of history and local politics didn’t get in the way, both areas would definitely be among the top dozen or so national parks in the country, imo.

    1. I know! I’ll get down there, I promise! I really want to visit the Everglades and get down to Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas. I’ll let you know when I visit!

    1. I did an Alaskan cruise years ago but it only gave me a taste of what Alaska has to offer. When I go, I’d like to be able to go for a good chunk of time and see as much as possible. There’s just so much beauty up there to explore!

  2. I love Mojave National Preserve so much–wish I’d spent more time there. We also visited Montezuma NM last fall and thought it was great. Did you get to the well site, too? Great post–thanks for sharing!

  3. I’m dying to visit Joshua Tree – & I’m so impressed by how many spots you hit in 2018! This is an amazing personal project/challenge. When you make i to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, lemme know, k?

    1. I definitely will, and same for you if you get out to Washington State (we’ve got something like 17 NPS sites here, just sayin). I’ve been lucky because I get to tag along on some of hubs’s business trips, and I see a lot of parks that way. Eons ago, I lived in Ohio, and I’ve always regretted that I never made it to Hopewell Mounds (or any of the other seven sites, for that matter). Someday…

    2. Joshua Tree is so, so cool! I’m really hoping I make it up to Ohio this year and I will of course let you know – there’s a handful of small monuments and memorials in the Cleveland area as well and I really just need to make a long weekend out of it.

  4. So, so cool, Terra. I wish I could have joined you on your adventures. Thanks for sharing them with us 🙂 I live vicariously through you.

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