August 18, 2013: In honor of the National Park System's fast approaching 97th birthday, here is my top ten list of national parks. While I haven't been to every park, I have been to roughly half of the system's more than 400 parks, and these are among my favorites.
10. Gettysburg National Battlefield (Historical Park, PA) Every American should visit this park, especially the battlefield's little round top, the site where Colonel Joshua Chamberlin likely saved the Union.
9. The Everglades National Park (Natural Park, FL)The largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi river. Everglades provides an excellent opportunity to see a combination of wildlife found nowhere else in the nation such as alligators, panthers, and dolphins.
8. Lincoln Memorial (Historical Park, DC) Reverent and powerful memorial to the president who kept a laser like focus on preserving the United States during Civil War. Like Gettysburg, the Lincoln Memorial is a testament to those who have given so much for us to enjoy the country we have today.
7. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Natural, Historical, Cultural Park, CA) A national park where one can stand in the shadow of centuries old Redwood trees in the morning and dine at a five star restaurant in the evening. Golden Gate like Everglades is one of the largest protected areas that border a major metropolitan city.
6. Little Big Horn National Battlefield (Historical Park, MT) An amazing site that puts western arrogance on display. Little bighorn helps remind one that a little humility sometimes is called for.
5. Arches National Park (Natural Park, UT) Park with otherworldly arches, natural bridges, and buttes and mesas. First class, outdoor university on the power of erosive forces like wind and rain.
4. Wrangell St. Elias National Park (Natural, Historical, Cultural Park, AK) The largest national park. Got to love a nation has parks larger than some other countries.
3. Mount Rainier National Park (Natural, Cultural, Historical Park, WA) A site of many personal family memories.
2. Glacier National Park (Natural Park, MT) Another park where I spent many summer vacations and made countless family memories.
1. Yellowstone National Park (Natural Park, MT/WY) Yellowstone has everything. Strange and stunning landscapes, unique features around every turn, rare and magnificent wildlife, massive lakes, raging rivers, sheer canyons, huge waterfalls, and millions of acres of solitude. It's my idea of the perfect park.
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