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Old 11-10-2009, 07:19 PM   #41
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................ there truly isn't a bad one as long as you can go slightly off season.....................
I'd add, also, as long as you get away from the parking areas. Even the most crowded parks are pretty empty once you hike 1/4 mile or more away from the big parking lots. Most people like to show up in their RV, lean against a railing, shoot a couple of pictures then tear off for the next lot.
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:40 PM   #42
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.... But there are some gems of equal quality that are seldom visited among the National Monuments. And I'm not telling my favorites of those.
Hey, I showed you mine.
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:40 AM   #43
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Hey, I showed you mine.
All right..all right.

Hovenweep N.M. is in a remote part of SW Colorado. It has some pretty neat Anasazi ruins, though nothing like Mesa Verde. There is a smallish camping area that has never been full when I've been there (maybe 6-8 times). A few hiking trails. And plenty of quiet and blue skies. No huge dramatic landscapes, just a cool place to relax and soak it in. But very hot in mid-summer.

So you can actually drive from there to another favorite in half a day. Natural Bridges in Utah. Another nice camping area, but slightly more crowded. I think there are about 25 camp sites. It has some of the largest natural bridges in the world that span the canyons there. You can hike done under the bridges as either a strenuous or moderate hike. And it's centrally located to explore almost countless ancient ruins and cultural sites on near-by federal land on the Colorado Plateau.

Now, since you are already in canyonland country, you can do another half day drive to Capitol Reef NP. It is probably one of the least crowded National Parks I've visited and very neat also.

Oh, if you really want some quiet, try Dinosaur National Monument. I actually think I've seen it documented as one of the quietest places in the US. The place is huge and has great overlooks of deeply carved canyons, some dinosauer stuff for the kids, white water rafting, and a large network of dirt roads you can bump around on or mtn bike.

So...don't tell anyone, OK.
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Old 11-11-2009, 08:30 AM   #44
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My personal favorite is Assateague National Seashore. It's a short 15 minutes down the road from me. We go there when we go to the beach. I love seeing the ponies and all the other wildlife, and going offroad in the sand. I just found out yesterday they have River Otters out there, so I have something new to watch for on the kayak trips.

My mother lives in a small area on the Shenandoah River (South Fork) nestled in between the Shenandoah National Park and the Jefferson National Forest. When I go see her (and have a little spare time) I drive home via the Skyline Drive. A little out of the way, but oh so beautiful. Especially on weekdays, when the crowds are thinner. Just past prime leaf season now, but still a wonderful trip.

Also a big fan of the Appalachian Trail, a National Scenic Trail. In my life I've hiked all of it's length in VA and WV (all 4 miles lol), all of Maryland, and about 40 miles each in NC and PA. One of my retirement dreams is to through hike the whole trail (currently 2178 miles). It would take me about 6 months. I have a number of issues to resolve first, including getting in shape and not getting killed when I tell DW I'll see her in 6 months, and oh yeah, send me all these food packages.

I'm planning to see most if not all of the NPs in my remaining years too. I can't think of a more rewarding bucket list item.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:13 AM   #45
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Favorite: Grand Tetons - camping at Jenny Lake campground and hiking up to Lake Solitude.
Soon-to-be-favorite: Glacier - seen the pictures and headed there next summer.
Close faves: Rockies, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Yellowstone.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:54 AM   #46
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My favorite National Monument is Cedar Breaks in Utah. The summer wildflowers there are beyond description.
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:56 PM   #47
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It's far off the beaten path in southern Utah, but Zion National Park is not to be missed:
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:44 PM   #48
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It's far off the beaten path in southern Utah, but Zion National Park is not to be missed:
Agreed...Zion NP is very nice!!!
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Old 11-13-2009, 06:38 AM   #49
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Harley...I have to agree with you on incomparable beauty of both Assateague and the Skyline Drive. There was a program earlier this week on the National Geographic channel about the AT. They profiled various people hiking the 4 sections. One fellow was in his 70's(from HI) and he took 6 months to hike the entire trail from Georgia to Maine. I guess they recommend starting in Maine and going to GA due to the fact that Maine can get snow early and some of the trails there can close in the early fall.
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Old 11-13-2009, 01:12 PM   #50
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Actually, most people start at Springer Mt in GA in early spring (March-April), so they can get to Maine before it gets too cold. I'd hate to have to finish my hike through the VA, NC, and GA in the hot part of the summer.
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Old 12-16-2009, 12:52 AM   #51
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My personal favorite is the Outer Banks National Seashore in North Carolina, but that's because we went there for our honeymoon, so it has sentimental value.

I was fortunately to have been to a number of national parks/monuments in the last 18 months: Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Devil's Tower (National Monument), Roosevelt (North Dakota), Jewel Cave, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Bighorn Canyon, Zion, the Olympic Peninsula, and Cape Cod National Seashore. Glacier has to be my favorite, with Yellowstone a close second. But if I was to pick a place to live, I'd live in Cape Cod.
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Old 12-16-2009, 05:14 AM   #52
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Yes, Cape Cod is really lovely. I have a cousin in Sandwich and visit every few years. It does get very crowded in the summer season and winters can be icy but if you are retired, who cares? Earlier this week one of my friends from work(she hails from rural Louisiana originally) proposed that we consider making a summer car trip to Maine. I immediately chimed in with "We have to go to Acadia!". I am thinking that just after Labor Day might be less crowded but will have to think about it more.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:45 AM   #53
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Zion is possibly my favorite also.



May is a good time. Campgrounds fill up every day.
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:52 AM   #54
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Back in '81 I quit my job and traveled west. Stopped at Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Devil's Tower,the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yosemite etc. The Badlands and Yosemite were my favorites..and I visit Cape Cod every year as I live in Mass.
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Old 12-16-2009, 02:39 PM   #55
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Likewise, trying to visit all NPs as well as stay in all NP Lodges. This past Sept.husband and I had FANTASTIC trip through the "string of pearls" -- FIVE NPs in southern Utah. Unbelievable scenery and geology for a Florida girtl. Had so much fun we added on two days and slipped in to southern Colo to see Mesa Verde Cliff dwellings. I racked up 6 NATIONAL PARKS and 3 park lodge stays in a 9-day tour.

One of our best trips in US.

Annual pass is a treasure, and if you are age 62 you can get LIFETIME pass for only $10.00 which admits you and THREE more adults. It's now a "multi-agency" pass covering all stuff Parks Service as well as other agency properties. A TREASURE.
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:33 AM   #56
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After visiting about 15 national parks, I'll vote for Grand Canyon as well. I've done a half dozen backpacking trips down into the canyon, staying as long as 6 days. It's much more impressive when you get to wander around endlessly, instead of a quick glimpse from a crowded rim. I'll be moving to central Arizona after my retirement in 2010, specifically to be close enough to Grand Canyon that I can hike there on a regular basis.
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:25 PM   #57
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Yellowstone was my favorite. I thought Bryce was extremely beautiful.
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:16 PM   #58
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From my years in California, I gotta vote for Yosemite. It's just beautiful, time after time. Though Sunday afternoons in Muir Woods and a wonderful slice of Apple Pie at the cafe were a delight as well.
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:51 PM   #59
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Another vote for Big Bend.
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Old 01-02-2010, 02:17 PM   #60
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Grand Canyon - been there 3 times. Hopefully the 4th will be a rim to rim hike
I have loved all the NP's I have visited - Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Acadia.

Rafted the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this summer with the wife and kids. It was awesome, we went with O.A.R.S. Spent 6 days on the river then hiked up the Bright Angel to the South Rim. A buddy and I are going back next September to do a rim-to-rim starting at the North Rim. Can't wait. Got two nights at Phantom Ranch and meals so we can just carry 7 pound daypacks vs. 40 pound backpacks.

Ronstar I will let you know how my r2r goes. I expect it to be nothing less than life altering.

Edited to add: I can't believe I forgot Volcanoes and Haleakala. Both terrific in very different ways, hiking out at night to see the Red Lava at Volcanoes and spending a day hiking down the Sliding Sands trail then across the crater floor and up the other side at Haleakala. Seeing rare Silversword plants and Nene geese, and hiking down through the clouds!
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