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U.S. National Parks thread

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  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    5-31 through 6-6 

    What recommendations do you fine folks have for this time of year? 

    I was thinking maybe the Utah 5, but it seems really hot weather is very possible this time of year. Conversely, I had also contemplated the Washington 3, but it looks like the Cascades may very well still be under snow at this point (except for maybe the main/paved roads).

    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • RK50065RK50065 St. Louis, MOPosts: 425
    @darwinstheory Have you been to the Tetons? Up high will probably still have snow but should be good otherwise.
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 32,848
    5-31 through 6-6 

    What recommendations do you fine folks have for this time of year? 

    I was thinking maybe the Utah 5, but it seems really hot weather is very possible this time of year. Conversely, I had also contemplated the Washington 3, but it looks like the Cascades may very well still be under snow at this point (except for maybe the main/paved roads).


    Zion would be great.  Temps average high of 82, low of 49 that time of year. 

    If you hit it right, temps around Moab, Utah area might not be too hot.  Highs average in the low 90's around in early June with pleasant evenings and nights.  Might be a good time to check out Arches National Park.  

    Yosemite would be almost perfect temps-wise in early June but also rather crowded.   Same with Sequoia and Kings Canyon though maybe not as crowded
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    @RK50065 - no, I have not been to the Tetons. Oddly enough, Yellowstone was the first National Park that i visited. The one that started my whole love for the NP's. However, while there, it never even crossed my mind to go check out the nearby Tetons! I also drove really close to Wind Cave and within eyesight of the far off Badlands! That is 3 NP's that I totally could have checked off my list had I known I would want to see them all at some point! So dumb!!!

    @brianlux - Thank you for your insight, bud. Yosemite is probably #1 on my list of parks I want to visit (Yellowstone & Glacier were ahead of it). When is the best time to visit there with smaller crowds. I was hoping a lot of families would still have kids in school the 1st week of June. 

    I'm kind of getting the feeling that Utah's parks might be best visited in either early May or late October. Better seasonally and far less crowded.

    The girlfriend still seems set on seeing the Pacific Northwest. Anyone have any opinions on the conditions of the parks in Washington at the beginning of June? The biggest concern I have is the Cascades may be too snow covered. 
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 32,848
    @RK50065 - no, I have not been to the Tetons. Oddly enough, Yellowstone was the first National Park that i visited. The one that started my whole love for the NP's. However, while there, it never even crossed my mind to go check out the nearby Tetons! I also drove really close to Wind Cave and within eyesight of the far off Badlands! That is 3 NP's that I totally could have checked off my list had I known I would want to see them all at some point! So dumb!!!

    @brianlux - Thank you for your insight, bud. Yosemite is probably #1 on my list of parks I want to visit (Yellowstone & Glacier were ahead of it). When is the best time to visit there with smaller crowds. I was hoping a lot of families would still have kids in school the 1st week of June. 

    I'm kind of getting the feeling that Utah's parks might be best visited in either early May or late October. Better seasonally and far less crowded.

    The girlfriend still seems set on seeing the Pacific Northwest. Anyone have any opinions on the conditions of the parks in Washington at the beginning of June? The biggest concern I have is the Cascades may be too snow covered. 

    I was thinking schools let out here in late May but doing a little research, it looks like many go through at least June 4, some as late as June 11, so that helps for less crowding in early June in Yosemite.  Also, weekends of course are the busiest so if you can arrange to be there early to mid week you will have fewer crowds.  If you plan on staying in the park, reservations are a must.  Some people also chose to stay outside the park in Groveland on Highway 20 although it is still about 1 1/2 hour drive into the park from there. 

    June is a great time to see Yosemite.  The weather is at its best and water falls are spectacular.  Also, no smoke from wildfires which are common in the fall.  This last June we went for a day trip and walked to Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and it they were outrageous! 

    I hope you make it there and have a great time!
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    The journey continues:

    In totally ignoring Brian's input, my better half has decided she wants to make a trip to the PNW the first week of June. Time for planning!!!

    Fly in on 5/30 and likely fly back on 6/7. Going to be a lot of driving (like our trip to Glacier and Banff). 


    Must hit spots:

    • Olympic NP
    • Mt. Ranier NP
    • North Cascades NP (may be limited by snow)
    • Crater Lake NP

    Optional:

    • Pike Place Market
    • Space Needle (can't be much different than the Sears Tower, can it?)
    • Mt. St. Helens
    • Portland - Japanese Garden
    • Vancouver (maybe only if time allows)
    • Yankees @ Mariners game - big maybe

    Any input/opinions about this stuff? Additional things we should check out near any of these spots?
    Anything we should not waste time or money on? 
    Any PJ related things we should be sure to check out? Tour the 10C facilities and get a Mystery Box at the end?  B)  (yes, I am aware they don't have 10C facility tours, nor do they award you with a Mystery Box. One does not pass Go, nor do they collect $200).
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • jerparker20jerparker20 St. Paul, MNPosts: 2,003
    edited January 5
    The journey continues:

    In totally ignoring Brian's input, my better half has decided she wants to make a trip to the PNW the first week of June. Time for planning!!!

    Fly in on 5/30 and likely fly back on 6/7. Going to be a lot of driving (like our trip to Glacier and Banff). 


    Must hit spots:

    • Olympic NP
    • Mt. Ranier NP
    • North Cascades NP (may be limited by snow)
    • Crater Lake NP

    Optional:

    • Pike Place Market
    • Space Needle (can't be much different than the Sears Tower, can it?)
    • Mt. St. Helens
    • Portland - Japanese Garden
    • Vancouver (maybe only if time allows)
    • Yankees @ Mariners game - big maybe

    Any input/opinions about this stuff? Additional things we should check out near any of these spots?
    Anything we should not waste time or money on? 
    Any PJ related things we should be sure to check out? Tour the 10C facilities and get a Mystery Box at the end?  B)  (yes, I am aware they don't have 10C facility tours, nor do they award you with a Mystery Box. One does not pass Go, nor do they collect $200).
    Regarding Olympic.  It’s beautiful with all the different ecosystems.  Here’s the rub with the park, there are no roads that go through the park. To get from interest point one to interest point two you have to leave the park and drive around it to the next. Expect anywhere from an hour to two hours drive between points of interest.

    The wife and I did the Pac NW a few years back. Flew to Portland and spent a day there with the brother-in-law (went to the Japanese Gardens it was okay. Nothing special.) Rented a van to sleep in and drove to Olympic. Spent two nights in Olympic. The weather was classic PNW, overcast and damp. Limits the views.  It was a lot of driving. Spent a night in Port Angeles and went on a whale watching trip (wife’s idea).

    Drove to Seattle and spent a day and night there. Walked through Pike Market (basically a tourist trap). went up to the Space Needle parade didn’t go up, but went to the Chihuly Museum (that was awesome!). Went to Easy Street after dinner and scored a 7” signed by McCready (he had been in earlier that day and dropped some stuff). Also took a shower for the  first time in several days.

    Drove down to Rainer, and spent a day and night there. Really wished we could spent more time there. It’s a stunning place. Managed to convince my wife, who was a solid 7 months pregnant at the time, to do a nice 6 hour round trip hike to Comet Falls and Van Trump Park. The drove back to Portland and flew back to the Twin Cities. 

    We Packed quite a bit in 7 days. Anything more wouldn’t have been enjoyable. Just windshield time and quick drive through sod the parks (I don’t count a park as visited unless I do at least one 3 mile hike in it.) As mentioned, plan out your to Olympic otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time driving. Hoh Rainforest and the tide pools/sea stacks are worth checking out.
    Post edited by jerparker20 on
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    @jerparker20 - Thank you so much for all the information! Especially the bits about traveling around Olympic. I knew some of the sights to see there, but didn't know about the travel times. Seems similar to Yellowstone...takes forever to get from one spot of the park to a different. And I also don't just want to drive through a park to call it a visit. Hell, even the underwhelming boardwalk around Congaree in SC was necessary to make the visit official.

    Yes, the whale watching was definitely on her to do list as well. I forgot about that.

    I was thinking a solid exhausting day at one of the 3 parks could be followed with a day of Pike Market, Space Needle, Easy Street (good call) and a baseball game. Touristy day to accomplish a lot of sight seeing while allowing our bodies to recover.  
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • jerparker20jerparker20 St. Paul, MNPosts: 2,003
    @jerparker20 - Thank you so much for all the information! Especially the bits about traveling around Olympic. I knew some of the sights to see there, but didn't know about the travel times. Seems similar to Yellowstone...takes forever to get from one spot of the park to a different. And I also don't just want to drive through a park to call it a visit. Hell, even the underwhelming boardwalk around Congaree in SC was necessary to make the visit official.

    Yes, the whale watching was definitely on her to do list as well. I forgot about that.

    I was thinking a solid exhausting day at one of the 3 parks could be followed with a day of Pike Market, Space Needle, Easy Street (good call) and a baseball game. Touristy day to accomplish a lot of sight seeing while allowing our bodies to recover.  
    Enjoy the trip.

    I’m heading off to the annual Palm Springs, CA visit in a few weeks.  Will be spending three nights out in the Joshua Tree. This year we’ll be there during a new moon which I’m excited for. Should allow for some great star gazing.
  • rick1zoo2rick1zoo2 between a rock and a dumb placePosts: 12,630
    great topic!  I can blame Pearl Jam for our love of the National Parks: went to see them in August 2018 in Seattle and figured we would make a longer trip of it.  Flew to Portland, checked out the Columbia River Gorge and hiked on Mt. Hood, then on our way to Seattle we visited Mt St Helens, stayed at Mt Ranier for a few days and absolutely loved it.  Then in Oct we drove through Shenandoah NP, staying overnight, then on to Great Smokey Mountains for a few days. 

    In March 2019, took a trip to Utah, flew into St George, visited Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands all in a week, then flew home from Grand Junction, CO.  The weather was chilly, but comfortable, the only issue was snow in Bryce caused a lot of the trails to be closed, but going that time of the year I think we avoided a lot of the crowds.

    Next up, we are thinking about a trip this spring to see Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Forest.
  • HorosHoros Posts: 4,517
    @darwinstheory Crater Lake is also likely to have snow that time of the year although the south entrance is always open. If you're going to drive down from WA a drive up the Columbia River to Highway 97 would be a great route. Heading south on 97 you'll pass Smith Rock and Newberry Crater both worth checking out.
    #FHP
  • HorosHoros Posts: 4,517
    ^^^ This route would also take you past Multnomah Falls and others along the gorge. On 97 you'd also pass White River Falls and I almost forgot it would take you through Bend, another great beer city in Oregon.

    #FHP
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    Arrrrgggghhhh....
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    @Horos - thank you for some of the great travel (and beer) tips!

    Between your mention that Crater Lake may still have snow and my research showing that most of the North Cascades and much of Mount Ranier will be heavily snow covered - I think we have decided to visit elsewhere this coming June, with an eye on trying to get to the PNW before the snowfall returns in late summer (or whenever it comes). So....

    Plan B! What is plan B? Fuck, I don't know. Back to the drawing board! Yosemite, King's Canyon and Sequoia? The parks in Colorado? Back to Yellowstone and also hit up the Grand Tetons, Wind Cave and the Badlands? Acadia? I don't know, but when I do, I'll be sure to let all you fine folks know too! 

    As always, thanks for your tips and feedback! 

    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • jerparker20jerparker20 St. Paul, MNPosts: 2,003
    ^^^ The Badlands/Wind Cave/Black Hills are fantastic.  Lots to see, do and hike besides the NPs. Black Elk Peak, Devils Tower, Spearfish area. Mt. Rushmore is there as well (not that awesome, but it’s one of those places).  Plus Rapid City is a cool little city.  

    If you decide on the SoDak parks, let me know. My wife lived out there for a while and we have friends out there that we visit every couple years. Be happy to provide some info.
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    @jerparker20 - thanks for offering your assistance. We have decided on going to California the first week of June. We have a tentative travel schedule to try to maximize visiting the parks out there and still squeezing in some of the touristy stuff. Does the itinerary below seem reasonable? 

    Sat. 5-30 - arrive in San Fran. Check out Haight/Ashbury area. 
    Sun. 5-31 - tour Alcatraz and check out the Golden Gate Bridge. Depart and travel south to Pinnacles NP. 
    Mon. 6-1 - work our way towards Yosemite. Hike a bit once we get there. 
    Tue. 6-2 - full day in Yosemite 
    Wed. 6-3 - half day in Yosemite then drive towards Kings Canyon NP. 
    Thur. 6-4 - visit Kings Canyon early, then down to Sequoia NP. 
    Fri. 6-5 - Checkout anything we missed in Sequoia and if time permits, swing over to Death Valley NP (probably won't have time for this). Drive to LA. and do whatever touristy stuff the remainder of Friday  and Saturday until our flight leaves at 5pm.
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    Anybody else have anything planned?

    Thinking now about a second trip later in the year. Maybe Seattle/l or back to Glacier in August or September. Back to Yellowstone and the Tetons in September. Or maybe the Utah NP's in November? Who knows!
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • jerparker20jerparker20 St. Paul, MNPosts: 2,003
    Anybody else have anything planned?

    Thinking now about a second trip later in the year. Maybe Seattle/l or back to Glacier in August or September. Back to Yellowstone and the Tetons in September. Or maybe the Utah NP's in November? Who knows!
    Will be spending three days next week in the Joshua Tree.  Maybe visit the Indiana Sand Dunes when in Chicago this August.
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    Hope your time in Joshua Tree is/was good. Photos and stories would be great!

    I work right by the Indiana Dunes NP.
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • jerparker20jerparker20 St. Paul, MNPosts: 2,003
    Hope your time in Joshua Tree is/was good. Photos and stories would be great!

    I work right by the Indiana Dunes NP.
    Joshua Tree was great, but a bit subdued.  The second day out in SoCal I headed to the urgent care with case of strep throat. This limited the hiking, but I got to spend a couple days just relaxing with the wife in the cabin and exploring the town of Yucca Valley. Today, I was feeling much better and knocked out the Panorama Loop at Black Rock Canyon. This area has the highest elevation in the park with the most rain/snow and most diverse plant life. Also is the least visited area although it is the closest to a town/highway. Hike took 4 hours and provided some awesome views. Only snapped a few pictures.
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    Today was supposed to be our return from the trip to Yosemite, Pinnacles, Kings Canypn and Sequoia. Disappointing, but most of us have had to cancel/postpone vacations, so I'm not alone there. I'm spending the day trying to piece together a return trip to Glacier in late August. We'll see how that goes. 

    What about you all? What are your current travel plans, if any?
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 4,341
    Somewhat relatable to the topic. A story I've followed somewhat. Pretty neat and somewhat bittersweet that it has ended.

    Totally had a Goonies meets City Slickers vibe to me. I can't wait to find out more!

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/07/us/forrest-fenn-rocky-mountains-treasure-chest-found-trnd/index.html
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • Jearlpam0925Jearlpam0925 Deep South PhillyPosts: 12,765
    Heading up to the Whites in New Hampshire on Sunday. Can't wait to be out of the city for a bit. Hell, I'm looking forward to the 6.5 hour drive.
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