National Parks Visited

  2014-Grand Teton and Yellowstone

2015-Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Acadia, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon

    

Future:

2016-Glacier, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Everglades, Biscayne, Dry Tortugas

2017-Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Congaree

2018-Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon (planned so far!)

Future Trips

I have been planning three trips for the future, but I always have a list of places we would love to explore in my Midori Travelers Notebook/Journal. I try to research way ahead for our National  Park trips because lodging can sell out very quickly. When I plan, I map out routes, hikes, look up hotels, read guide books and get on the Trip Advisor forums and ask questions.  I also make an itinerary in my free TripIt account. Then it shows up on my phone calendar and App.

In summer of 2016 we are going to visit Glacier National Park for the first time. Then we will drive down to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and finish up our two and a half weeks in Jackson, WY. It is our 20th anniversary this year and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We decided to spend the 100th anniversary in America’s first National Park. We are so happy Craig got all of his vacation time approved. I started planning this summer’s trip last May. Even that far ahead, a Roosevelt Lodge cabin with a bathroom was sold out! I found out there are only about 14 of them and the summer season at Roosevelt is short.

We have also been planning a Florida road Trip for 2016. Craig and I lived in Florida for six years, but we have not explored the Everglades in depth. We also want to go to Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. At first we thought we may want to go in January, but then we were worried it might be too cold to snorkel. Now we are hoping for October. I am glad we waited because Biscayne National Park just got back their boat tours. They had been looking for concessioners for a while now. I have been using the newer Lonely Planet Road Trip guide books for planning ideas. I love the routes they suggest in these books. The hotel and restaurant info is not in depth, but I like the maps a lot. 

The third trip we are planning is Alaska in 2017. We are super excited and this trip is long overdue. We are going to be doing a Princess Cruise and land tour for 15 nights with friends. We will visit four national parks on the trip and hope to get a lot of new stamps for the National Park Passport! I will post more updates on future trip planning and things we are going to see and do. I have also found some great hotels and restaurants you may want to check out. I have been using Pinterest as a helpful visual trip planning tool. Check out my Yellowstone, Glacier, Florida and Alaska boards for more hotel, food and drink, hiking and things to see and do suggestions. 

 


National Park Stamps

After learning about the National Parks Passport program, we did some more research on the stamps and where to get them. The program was launched in 1986 to encourage people to visit the National Parks. Most parks and landmarks do have stamps, but it is  a voluntary program.

We have found our stamps in the visitors centers and gift shops. There is usually a little section with a desk set up and the stamp and stamp pad out. They sometimes have paper so you can test the stamp out first and get a good impression. The stamps are dated, so you can test that the date is correct before you add it to your passport.

Craig stamping our passport at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park.

Craig stamping our passport at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park.

There are several regions in the National Park service. Pacific Northwest/Alaska, the North Atlantic, the Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Midwest, National Capitol, Western and Southeast. Each region has its own color stamp. Pacific Northwest and Alaska are blue,  the North Atlantic is brown, Mid-Atlantic is light blue, Rocky Mountain is yellow, the Southwest is gray, Midwest is orange, National Capitol is red, Western is green and Southeast is purple. Sometimes, there are no stamp pads or the stamp is low on ink. Craig bought me a small set of craft stamps that match the National Park region colors and it will be easy to take one along now when we travel. Just in case!

I also found out that there is a group called the National Park Travelers Club! They are a group of people that love visiting the National Parks. They have conventions around the country and on their website there are forums and a master pin database. If you would like access to the database, the annual fee is around $10. There are hundreds of stamps listed by region in their database! You can search by region and print a list out to take with you when you travel. You will also gain access to a member forum section. Members talk about new stamps, travel, etc. It turns out there are many unofficial stamps like this cool Buffalo we got at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone. We had to have a volunteer open up the gift shop for us to stamp it.  

Near the passports in the visitor centers and gift shops, you will also see stickers. There are new collectable stickers every year that you can also add to your passport. I only added a few because they take up a lot of room. You can also stamp your own book or a map, piece of paper, etc. to add to a scrapbook. I love the passport because it is small, has a lot of information in it and it supports the parks. 

I have some stamp information and pictures on my National Parks Pinterest page as well!