Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!

Last week marked the 100th Anniversary of the US National Park Service, the designation by President Obama of two new national monuments (Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument; Stonewall National Monument) and plans to increase the protected area of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (making this the world’s largest (and possibly most delightfully named?) marine protected area in the world).

I got to thinking about parks I had visited and my experiences in them, and was curious about those of my fellow Strecker Lab labmates.  I asked everyone which parks they had visited, their favorite, and which one they wanted to visit next.  We have really done a lot of exploring!


Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Crater Lake, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Yellowstone; Monuments:  Bandelier, Little Bighorn, and Muir Woods

Favorite:  It’s a toss-up between Crater Lake and Grand Canyon – both are incredibly unique places of immense scale that just have to be seen to be believed.  I feel really connected to the Grand Canyon because of some research that I’ve done there on endangered fish species – species that are found nowhere else on the planet.  But Crater Lake is a lake after all and thinking about all of its unique physical, chemical, and biological characteristics is really exciting.

Want to visit next:  Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Olympic


Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Acadia, Arches, Badlands, Crater Lake, Everglades, Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes, Kings Canyon, Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia, Yosemite, Zion, Big Cypress, Timucuan Preserve; Monuments:  Bandelier, Devil’s Postpile, Muir Woods; Historic parks:  Boston National Historical Park, Lowell National Historical Park, Minute Man National Historical Park, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

Favorite:  I don’t know if I can choose! Acadia holds nostalgia because it is my “hometown” park, but some of my best memories are at Crater Lake – where I have circumnavigated the lake both by bike and xc skis, and Yosemite – where I began the John Muir Trail, spent New Years Eve huddled at Camp 4, and climbed Half Dome (with ropes and trad gear, not the “pansy” way!). But my favorite of all time might have to be North Cascades National Park; it is where I have done the majority of my field work for my dissertation, it is the least populated of any park I have been to, and has some of the most epic wilderness and scenery I have ever encountered (not to mention fascinating ecology!). It will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Want to visit next:  Again, I don’t know if I can choose! Glacier is high on my list, but I would also love to explore some of the Alaska parks (Glacier Bay & Denali), and to climb at Joshua Tree. I think that’s as much as I can narrow it down!

Left: Twilight after sampling Middle Tapto Lake, North Cascades
Upper right: Prepping for the climb at the base of Half Dome, Yosemite
Lower right: Resting after a morning of skiing uphill, Crater Lake
(Photo credits:  Ari)



Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Arches, Canyonlands, Everglades, Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic, Rocky Mtn

Favorite:  My favorite is the Smokys because it’s so close to where I grew up and it is paradise.

Want to visit next:  I would like to visit Crater Lake because it’s in Oregon and it’s a lake, and I study lake things.


Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Badlands, Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Dry Tortugas, Everglades, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Yellowstone; Monuments:  Castillo de San Marcos, Devils Tower, Fort Matanzas, Fort Sumter; Historic parks:  Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks

Favorite:  Mount Rainier. The mountain had a big impact on me growing up, and I love that so many people can see it up close and personal at the park.

Want to visit next:  Crater Lake – especially after seeing Ari’s photo!

Left:  Mt. Rainier up close (Photo credit: Vanessa Peterson); Right:  Early photo of the author (small hipster gnome, far right) at Mt. Rainier.


Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Big Cypress, Isle Royale, Badlands, Everglades, Voyageurs, Glacier, Shenandoah, Hot Springs, Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, Redwood, Rocky Mtn, Sequoia, Theodore Roosevelt; Monuments: African Burial Ground National Monument, the Booker T Washington National Monument, Castillo de San Marcos, Devils Tower, Effigy Mounds, Fort Matanzas, George Washington Birthplace, Grand Portage, Little Bighorn Battlefield, Muir Woods, Pipestone, Statue of Liberty; Historic parks: Bighorn Canyon, Golden Gate, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Favorite:  Voyageurs National Park, because it’s in my homeland and only accessible by boat– it requires exploring and moving around!

Want to visit next:  Gates of the Arctic


Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Acadia, Badlands, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Virgin Islands, Yellowstone

Favorite:  My favorite?! Hard to pick!  But probably Acadia since it was the first one I intentionally went to (I had previously been to Virgin Islands and Rocky Mountain on family trips when I was younger).  I went to Acadia with a friend and we camped and hiked for a few days, and it was gorgeous: ocean, mountains, lobster, oh my!

Want to visit next:  ALL OF THEM!  But the short list: Arches, Glacier, and Yosemite. But the more realistic short list is: North Cascades, Crater Lake, and Mount Rainier.


Been to:  Parks and preserves:  Acadia, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Haleakala, Joshua Tree, Lassen Volcanic, Mesa Verde, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, Zion.

Favorite:  They are all so different.  I get attacked by a deer in Glacier, so that kinda sets it apart a bit.

Want to visit next:  I have refrained from going to either Yellowstone or Yosemite because of all the people.  I will go though.


Mt Rainier

Mt. Rainier from downtown Tacoma (Photo credit:  Sandy Davis)




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