OT: National Park Week; What's Your Favorite?

Submitted by Squad16 on April 25th, 2018 at 10:40 AM

Very OT, but it is National Park Week, so I thought it'd be fun to discuss the best of the US, especially as the weather is finally starting to warm in most of the country. 

Where are your favorite spots? Any you haven't been impressed with?

I still have a lot to get to for the first time, but the best I've been to so far would probably have to be Zion in Southern Utah. Incredible hiking and such unique landscape. Angel's Landing is unnerving, but if you can handle heights, an all time favorite.

After that, I'd have to say Death Valley in California (Vegas is the closest airport) would be my second; it really pleasantly surprised me and is one of the more underrated parks. You can only really visit between November and March if you want to be active, but it's huge (largest in lower 48), extremely remote/quiet/peaceful, lots of unique landmarks (Dunes, Artists' Palette, mountains, Badwater Basin/salt flats) and even snowy hiking trails in the winter to juxtapoze with the barren desert floor (I visited in January, would definitely die there in July but some ppl think it's an experience to see the heat). 


Although I don't think I've ever been to a national park/forest I didn't like, I think Joshua Tree in SoCal near Palm Springs is a bit lackluster. The trees are unique, but otherwise it's just normal desert and relative to the other parks in the region, doesn't pack much punch. Although it is a great park for people who like to camp, and you can do it most of the year (probably its biggest draw).




April 25th, 2018 at 10:45 AM ^

all National Parks have something to offer and I would recommend people seeing as many as you can. One of my favorites would have to be Rocky Mountain National Park. It's beautiful anytime of year. Always great to drive over trail ridge road right after it gets open around Memorial Day.


April 25th, 2018 at 10:48 AM ^

is my favorite park, although I'm already breaking rules by choosing a state park rather than national park.  Loved going to it growing up. 

Live in Plymouth and there are lots of great parks in the city and in the township.  Parks in general are great.  Need to head out west. 


April 25th, 2018 at 10:48 AM ^

Because of the location, it is my favorite.  The Glen Arbor area is my ultimate retirement destination, but finances don't match up well with that area.


April 25th, 2018 at 12:38 PM ^

Seconded. My son - a Michigan SNRE/SEAS Alumnus starts his 3rd summer working at Sleeping Bear doing Ecology restoration work. Hoping to turn it into a full time gig at somepoint.

Real Estate prices in the area never really bounced back from the 2008 decline so the cost might not be as expensive as you think. There is a house with 100' of lake Michigan frontage near me (south of Frankfort) for $450k  - and it has been for sale for a long time. It is not cheap, especially for a second home but probably about the cost of a house in Ann Arbor.


April 25th, 2018 at 3:46 PM ^

Where is this waterfront house on Lake Michigan for $450K?  I want to see it.  Glen Lake is the most beautiful body of water in the world to me.  I would take it over the carribean or Hawaii or anywhere else I have been.  The economic downturn in 2008-09 didn't affect that area.  Peoples are ridiculous and getting worse.  Too much money from Chicago Drs and people like Dick DeVos buying up prime realestate and building compounds, not just vacation homes.


April 25th, 2018 at 5:40 PM ^

Not Glen Lake but not to far away and Lake Michigan frontage.
So not Leelanau County but southern Benzie County. About 30 mins south of Frankfort, 45 mins to Empire/Glen Lake less than an hour from Traverse City. The house looks to be in good shape 100ft of Lake Michigan. Sandy beach. It has been for sale for awhile so i think iot could be had for less.
I have no interest in this property but have a place close by.
13694 Lakeview Rd,Bear Lake, MI 49614


April 25th, 2018 at 8:32 PM ^

I do not spend a ton of time in TC, a few days a summer. A couple of summers ago I was lucky enough to spend the summer at my cottage north of Manistee. Hope to do it again soon.

At one point I would have chosen TC as my favorite place to live and I still love downtown but like anything it's gotten a bit more crowded especially in the summer.

I used to have a place north of Northport at the tip of the Leelanau Penisula near the lighthouse, but driving an hour past TC to get there was tough.

My current place is near Pierport which has an artesian well with a plaque saying it is "Old Facefull", kind of fits this thread. I am a bit south of Arcadia Bluffs golf course - I don't golf anymore and am too cheap to play there anymore but it is near to have nearby. They have a second course opening up nearby.

I have not made it up north much because I am living in a fixer in Ann Arbor and trying to get much of it fixed before I get too old and more broken down.

RHammer - SNRE 98

April 25th, 2018 at 4:48 PM ^

real estate prices up here in northwest michigan aren't as high as you might believe; the prices in Traverse City proper, and of course, along the lakeshore, have been slowly bouncing back from their 2008 lows, but there are lots of river-front and smaller, inland-lake properties where you could get water access for much, much less, and if you weren't worried about that, you can get great property throughout the region for very little money

Wolverine In Iowa 68

April 25th, 2018 at 10:49 AM ^

as it's privately owned, but DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg Alabama (near Talledega) is incredible.  Going underground, getting to experience total darkness, the pond, rock formations.....it's definitely something to experience.


April 25th, 2018 at 1:32 PM ^

Do the boat tour at sunset if possible. Drive out to miners castle, walk to the lookout and enjoy the crystal clear waters of Superior. Hike the trails out to Chapel Rock. Mosquito River falls as well. Drive all the way to Grand Marais, have pizza and beer at the Lake Superior Brewing Co.

Enjoy Munising, check out all the falls around there. Eat at Johnny Dogs.

I'm thinking about doing a diary entry for UP summer travel instead of rehashing my recommendations.


April 25th, 2018 at 10:50 AM ^

I love Arches in Moab, but it's gotten extremely crowded over the past 4 or 5 years.  There's frequently a lne 20 to 40 minutes long just to get into the park and now there's talk about limiting access.  So yes whilst it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth it's being runed because now people know it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  


April 25th, 2018 at 11:24 AM ^

I went there like 12 years ago with some friends. On the map we saw a few ways to go west from where we were in North Carolina, a couple were a little curvy but basically looked to be taking a long way around something. In the middle, there was something called the Cherohola Skyway (spelling might be off). It was just a road winding back and forth right through what those other roads appeared to be avoiding. We were getting to the area pretty late in the day, still in the trees, and then boom. It totally opened up and you could see how the Smokies get their name with the sun starting to set. Absolutely gorgeous. Then we spent hours on the windiest roads ever in the dark and you could smell the brakes. Good times.


April 25th, 2018 at 11:48 AM ^

Awesome story man. True story....For Spring Break my senior year of High School a few friends and I went down from A2 area because about 10 girls from school had rented a cabin. We just showed up... some we're happy and some were pissed. Us guys were all happy. Best part, one of the girls bfriends heard we went down and he was mad so he drove down 8 hours to investigate. He took his girl out down there, on the way back he drove to cool and flew off a cliff and luckily he wedged the car between the cliffside and a large tree and no one was hurt, well except for his ego and my wallet cause I got his girl.


April 25th, 2018 at 11:00 AM ^

As for my favorite, I love *all* the ones I've seen, including Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, Zion, the GC, Arches (most of them visited during epic [3-6 week] family road trips 15-30 years ago), but the better answer is that visiting ANY National Park during its off season is superior to visiting EVERY OTHER National Park during its peak season.


April 25th, 2018 at 11:19 AM ^

When I went to see Bryce Canyon a few summers back, I was more amazed with the pictures of it in the wintertime than the summertime. Bryce is definitely one I'd want to see in the offseason and as mentioned earlier, Death Valley is better in the offseason as well. However, I can't imagine you'd see much of Glacier in the offseason.


April 25th, 2018 at 12:23 PM ^

Generally true, but some parks it's literally not possible. 


Lassen Volcano National Park in California and Crater Lake in Oregon are two where the roads are literally only snow-free/open from the end of June through September. 


April 25th, 2018 at 10:53 AM ^

I went there in March once for Spring Break and was blown away then.  Late May is a great time to go because you can also view the whales.

Smoky Mountain and Shenandoah are pretty underrated parks.  It's pretty cool to drive to the Tenn/NC border and stand above the clouds.  Also, Smoky Mountain NSP is free.

I don't know how much the annual park pass costs, but it's a great investment if you have time to view the parks over the summer.