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Reader Participation Day: When Do You Feel You've "Done" a National Park?


How much of a national park do you feel you need to see or understand to feel you've "done it"? Does it depend on the type of park unit?

Some people plan their trips out West to do a national park a day.

Others can spend a week in Glacier National Park or Grand Teton National Park. When they come home, they know that there are so many sections of that park that they haven't seen that they feel they just have to go back there.

If I visit a national historic park or monument like De Soto National Memorial, I focus on why it became a park unit. But it's more difficult with larger iconic parks.

Knowing that you've done a park is very subjective. It's probably somewhere between walking all the trails in the park and going into the Visitor Center to get your National Park passport stamped.

So how do you decide when you've really "done" a park?


Can anyone really be done with a park?  There is so much to see and experience that it's not possible for me to be done.  When traveling great distances I want to get the feel of a park in the day or two before I move to the next.  I am tempted to go back to my favorites but I just have to move on to the next park and experience that one.

I think it depends upon the park.  Some parks after a couple visits, I've felt that I had "done" them, and don't feel that additional visits will bring significantly new experiences or feelings.  Others, even after numerous trips into remote backcountry areas, I still don't feel that I've "done" them, I still want to go back and do more.  Examples of parks I don't feel I'm "done" with are Grand Canyon (Have one the inner canyon from Desert View to Boucher on the South Rim.  Have done North Bass and Thunder River/Tepeats Creek.  Have not done Royal Arch Route, Elves Chasm, Nankaweap, Kanab Creek, Tuweep).  At Grand Canyon, I have not done a George Steck and done a it end to end on both sides of the river (Not sure I really want to do that either.)  Zion, could spend a lifetime there.  Chaco Canyon, have hiked all the open parts, but am not done with it because of the feelings I get, say sitting a Casa Rinconada or Pueblo Bonito at dusk.  Tetons and Yellowstone, not done with.  Yosemite and SEKI, not done with.  Mt Rainier, not done with.  I'm sure I will be unable to ever be "done" with some of these places, well after I am physically unable to venture into the areas I would like to go.

Usually only when I run out of money or time.  (Usually money, darn it.)

Could John Muir have ever said, "Been there.  Done that." and never returned to Yosemite?  Like John, I don't think I have ever "done" a park until I am "one" with the park.  Although I have visited many, some more than once, I have neither done any nor yet become one with any.  Alas, so few have the privelage.

I do not think you can ever be done with a park. Each time you visit, something new is there to see, wether it is a season change, wildlife, waterfalls, crouds. I love Yosemite in the winter, since there are no crouds and it is beautiful, but also love it in summer, where I can go anywhere all day long. Never done..

Death Valley is my favorite, visited five time for a total of nine weeks, painted over 100 paintings, and there are still so many places I haven't been. I love that folks get so loyal to their park, we were in Big Bend for the millenial new year and every one there has been coming for new year's for years, they knew so much more that new poor new rangers! Loved it.

After I work at a park at least 4-5 seasons, then I'm usually done with it. for a while. Yet this will be my 5th season at Grand Canyon's North Rim and I've barely begun to know this place. Could take a lifetime.

Our National Parks are living, breathing, natural preserves, and as such, they are constantly changing (seasons, natural or man made disasters, better weather years, worse weather years, etc.).  So even the relatively smaller parks can never be "done". Heck, this might even apply to some of our heritage parks. Can anyone really say after 1 or 10 visits they have seen and done everything at Gettysburg or Antietam? Or maybe this is just my excuse for going back again and again.....Goodness, we love all the parks!

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