2017’s National Park Adventures

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

When 2017 started, I was in Kuwait. It was the end of my deployment though and by the middle of January I was back in America. I’d spent most of the National Park Service’s centennial year (2016) in foreign lands and I came home determined to make up for my absence.

Two days after being released from the clawed paws of the U.S. Army, I visited my first National Park unit of the year, in New York City, and then spent the rest of the year dreaming of future park visits, driving across Virginia to visit close-to-home parks and generally annoying nearly everyone with my incessant National Park chatter.

It was a good year, at least for National Park adventuring.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

2017’s NATIONAL PARK ADVENTURES

1. THEODORE ROOSEVELT BIRTHPLACE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE 
Jan. 16, 2017, in New York, New York

I always knew Teddy Roosevelt was a badass, but this park added a bit of depth to his legend.

2. JEAN LAFITTE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK & PRESERVE
Feb. 9, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana

This visit almost doesn’t count, as we just had enough time to visit the park’s visitor center in the French Quarter.

3. CHATTANOOGA NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
Feb. 10, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tennessse

While driving from Houston, Texas, back to Richmond, my travel companion and I pit-stopped here for some military history and, later, some top-notch BBQ.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM4. GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Feb. 18, 2017, in San Francisco, California

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the largest urban national parks in the world and includes around 25 different locations, spread throughout the city of San Francisco and into Marin and San Mateo counties. One of my favorites is Alcatraz Island, which was the only part of the park I visited on this trip.

5. CABRILLO NATIONAL MONUMENT
Feb. 22, 2017, in San Diego, California

This was my first trip to San Diego and other than meeting some seals in La Jolla and eating tacos for almost every single meal, tide pooling at Cabrillo National Monument was my favorite part.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM 6. FORT MONROE NATIONAL MONUMENT
Jul. 23, 2017, in Hampton, Virginia

Nicknamed “Freedom’s Fortress,” Fort Monroe was a bastion of freedom for enslaved blacks during the American Civil War.

7. CEDAR CREEK & BELLE GROVE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Jul. 31, 2017, in Middletown, Virginia

I pit-stopped at Cedar Creek on my way to West Virginia for work and managed to arrive just in time for a ranger-led tour. It was just me, the ranger and a retired couple and was probably the height of this year’s national park nerdery.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM8. HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK 
Aug. 2, 2017, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

On the way back from West Virginia I stopped here to explore the place where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together and to learn a little more about the history of the place.

9. MAGGIE WALKER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Aug. 19, 2017, in Richmond, Virginia

I took friends from Washington, D.C., here, to the park closest to my home.

10. MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK
Sept. 3, 2017, in Manassas, Virginia

One of the first major battles of the American Civil War was fought at Manassas, with tragic and occasionally ridiculous results.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM11. GEORGE WASHINGTON BIRTHPLACE NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sept. 16, 2017, in Colonial Beach, Virginia

George Washington was born in what is today Virginia’s Northern Neck. It’s a beautiful spot, but the sheep are exceptionally unfriendly.

12. APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Sept. 17, 2017, in Appomattox, Virginia 

I learned the basics of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender back in high school, but there was a lot to the story I didn’t know.

13. PETROGLYPH NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sept. 28, 2017, in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I’d only been off the plane for a few hours by the time I went to Petroglyph National Monument, the first park I visited on a solo trip to New Mexico.

14. PECOS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Sept. 30, 2017, in Pecos, New Mexico

My second park in New Mexico, where I started to learn about the history of both New Mexico and it’s native inhabitants.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM15. FORT UNION NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sept. 30, 2017, in Pecos, New Mexico

Due to its ghost town-like feeling, Fort Union wins for eeriest park I visited in 2017.

16. VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE
Oct. 1, 2017, in Jemez Springs, New Mexico

This was the most alone I felt on my trip to New Mexico, in the best way. I think I might have met divinity out on the winding, bumping roads of Valles Caldera.

17. MANHATTAN PROJECT NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Oct. 1, 2017, in Los Alamos, New Mexico

I hesitated to include this visit, as the Los Alamos part of this park is mostly closed to the public. Still, I did wander around Los Alamos, recognized as the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

18. BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT
Oct. 1-2, 2017, in Los Alamos, New Mexico

After visiting Bandelier late in the afternoon, I woke up before the sun to visit again and to hike along ancient trails. I was the only one on the trail that morning and spent five minutes standing still watching two chipmunks welcome in the morning.

19. SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK
Oct. 21, 2017, near Waynesboro, Virginia

Shenandoah is only about an hour from me, so the boy & I loaded up on the best biscuits in town and headed out for a day hike and to admire the fall foliage.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

20. PETERSBURG NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD
Nov. 25, 2017, in Petersburg, Virginia

I’d driven by this park more than 100 times and finally took the time for a proper visit this year. It’s got three parts, so chances are good I’ll head back soon to see more.

21. WOLF TRAP NATIONAL PARK FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Dec. 16, 2017, in Vienna, Virginia

I went to high school near Wolf Trap and never knew it was a national park. Having done the backstage tour I’m not anxious to go and see a show.

22. COLONIAL NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Dec. 20, 2017, in Jamestown, Virginia

When my Portlan-dwelling bestie me back for the holidays, she demanded a national park visit, so we went to Jamestown, a place neither one of us had been since we were tiny pups.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

2017 NATIONAL PARK VISITS BY THE NUMBERS

In 2017, I visited 7 National Historical Parks, 6 National Monuments, 2 National Historic Sites, 1 National Battlefield, 1 National Military Park, 1 National Recreation Area, 1 National Battlefield Park, 1 National Preserve, 1 National Park & 1 National Park for the Performing Arts for a total of 22 visits to National Park Service units in seven states.

Did 2017 take you to any National Park Service units? 

11 Discussion to this post

  1. San says:

    I love this so much. I love that you sought out all these different sites (many of which I hadn’t heard before!) and to make it a point to visit as many sites as possible 🙂

    • terrabear says:

      I swear these days I’m just plotting and scheming my way to different places to see more parks. There’s a bunch on the East Coast that seem to be sort of clustered, so I’m going to see how many spots I can get to within driving distance this year.

  2. […] of my life goals is to see all 417 units within the National Park Service. Last year I made it to 22 parks, and I’m hoping to step it up a bit this year, with trips to Oregon, North Carolina and maybe […]

  3. Stephany says:

    You saw SO MUCH in 2017! I love this project of visiting all of the different national parks, monuments, etc., and you are really kicking ass at this goal. So much awesome travel and sites you saw!
    Stephany recently posted…Best of 2017 | My Top 10 BooksMy Profile

  4. Anita says:

    This. Is. Awesome! I love your quest and it looks like you rocked it this year! And no big deal, you even accomplished it in different states. I like that there are so many random tidbits, like birthplace of the atomic bomb?! You’ve inspired me to find out what treasures are in my own state…
    Anita recently posted…Fearless Wanderlust v.31 – December 2017My Profile

    • terrabear says:

      I have learned SO MUCH. I mean, I always had the basics of a lot of American history but visiting the parks has made it all so much more real and I think learning while I’m on vacation or on an adventure makes the knowledge stick a litter better than it did in high school. 🙂

  5. WOAH! You went to all of those in 2017?? Do you have a favorite?
    Kelsey @ So Much Life recently posted…My Great Big 2017 Book ReviewMy Profile

    • terrabear says:

      Oh, that’s so hard! I think the New Mexico parks were probably my favorite, especially Valles Caldera and Bandelier. They’re just so different from what I’m used to on the East Coast that I spent my time mesmerized by the landscapes.

  6. Kristin says:

    Wow, you really racked up some awesome adventures this year! We really want to get out to Harpers Ferry and do some exploring in that area. I also need to add some of these VA parks to my list – they’re so close, there’s no excuse not to go! We spent a lot of time this year at Great Falls National Park, Prince William Forest, and Mason Neck State Park, made it out to Wolf Trap for a show, watched Easter services at Arlington National Cemetery, and that’s about it for park visits. There were plans to get out to Mount Vernon and Lincoln’s cottage, but life happened.
    Kristin recently posted…Mom’s Christmas Cinnamon RollsMy Profile

    • terrabear says:

      Harpers Ferry is so pretty! I’m definitely hoping to go back this year because there is so much to see and do.

      I need to get back to Great Falls too! I used to go there as a kid when my dad would visit and I remember it being pretty magical. I’ve been as an adult a few times, but I really want to give it a bit more time.

      Cheers to more parks in 2018!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: