Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

National Parks

Posted October 13, 2009

I am a nerd. I collect national park patches. Our family collection totals more than 20. We plan to buy more of them but we have some rules. You have to go there to get one. No patches by mail.

I thought about our patch collection while watching the recent Ken Burns documentary series on national parks. It's some of the best television I have seen in a long time. Not only did I learn more about the battle to establish America's glorious parks but drew inspiration from the courageous people who stood tall in their determination and vision. Without leaders like John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt and Stephen Mather America would be devoid of such pristine treasures as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains.

Have you visited our national parks? If so, which ones? What are your favorites? What are your stories? Please share.

The best story will win a prize!


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  • thinknc Oct 15, 2009

    Visited several during a trip out west with my family.....Arches, Mesa Verde, Zion Canyon, Grand Canyon (North Rim),...I'm having trouble recalling them kids did the Junior Ranger programs at the parks, and started collecting the patches, too. I can't pick a favorite, as there were so many awe-inspiring sights at each. They all made me feel very, very small, and fortunate to be visiting them. One of my favorite memories is of the deer that had made themselves at home in front of a tent near our campsite at Mesa Verde. The deer just stretched themselves out right in front of the tent door, and were completely unfazed by us as we passed by. I also remember my daughter's (then seven) initial reluctance to climb the ladders to get from one level to another at the cliff dwellings, yet how she was eagerly scampering up them later in the day. The native American ranger there had a program under the stars in which he related legends and played an indian flute--beautiful!

  • m0nky Oct 14, 2009

    I've been to Carlsbad Caverns, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Mt. Rushmore, Most the one ones in NC, Petrified Forest, and The Grand Canyon...just to name a few.

    Been to the grand canyon twice now and i have to say that is easily my favorite national park. the hiking is great, the sunsets are amazing, and the park rangers are real friendly. Definitely recommend going there atleast once in your life.

  • weasleyes Oct 13, 2009

    I have been privileged to see most of them over the years (some several times.) We recently visited Sequoia National Park near Fresno. This was one of the best! Such magnificent trees ... (Ex: General Grant - 40' at the base and over 300' tall,)many of them thousands of years old.

  • wdwbmw Oct 13, 2009

    We have been fortunate enough to visit several national parks and have never been disappointed by any of them. I think my absolute favorite is Bryce Canyon in Utah. The colors are spectacular. For anyone "old" like we are, the best deal in town is the national park pass available to seniors for $10 which admits the owner and everyone in his/her vehicle into any national park, monument, historic site, etc. for life. What a deal!

  • carolina buckeye Oct 13, 2009

    I loved the Ken Burns project as well. It rekindled my desire to visit the national parks. My husband and I visited Zion National park when we were first married. I would recommend going in the spring. It's not so hot during the day, the evenings are cool (and sometimes cold), but the thing that makes it really beautiful is that the red rock is spectacular right after the rain and in the spring there is just enough green plant life for contrast. It's really breathtaking.

  • tennispro Oct 13, 2009

    Grand Teton National Park is the prettiest national park I have ever visited.It was snowing when I was there two summers ago . I was following my nephew phillip and daughter sarah at night. All of a sudden I saw a huge animal crossing in front of their car. I call phillip on my cell and say what in the world almost hit you? He said it was a buffalo. I was so happy to get to my hotel for the night. I did not drive in the snow anymore on the trip! The mountains are so pretty there.. You all must put that on your to do list!!

  • sandraflora Oct 13, 2009

    I visited both Yellostone, the Cliff Dweller cities, And the Redwood forest, albeit in the late '70's (when I was a child). I'd love to go back to all three, especially to the Four Corner area! Christy

  • fluffy11 Oct 13, 2009

    A surprise beauty is Tonto National Forest, near Phoenix, AZ and Fort Apache Reservation. I visited park last week, and discovered it is 3 million acres of rugged saguaro cactus "forest", many other types of cactus plants, pine forests, and a barren beauty that is a national treasure.
    The many mountains/hills/gorges are free of buildings, giving a picture of ruggedness that endures still today. While winding up the hills on the "Apache Trail", a narrow, twisting road, I was amazed at the natural beauty as I looked down. Then, while taking a tour on a small boat on Canyon Lake, looking up provided another view of sheer cliffs, with stately saguaro cactus growing out of the tiniest cracks in the rocks. I learned that it is the 5th largest national forest in the U.S.
    It is rugged desert, but has some lakes (man-made) in the canyons that give a very different view of the "desert forest".

    Kudos to those who saved these areas from "civilization"!

  • westoflyra Oct 13, 2009

    I saw that documentary on PBS and loved it. I am afraid I haven't been to any of the national parks, but I would love to visit Mt. Rainier in Washington State among others. I wish the documentary had more to say on this park than what was included.

  • bleslie Oct 13, 2009

    My favorites would have to include the North Rim of Grand Canyon and Yosemite. LeConte in GSMNP is also a great place. I love Everglades in January. Acadia in autumn is splendid. Favorite drive: Road to the Sun in Glacier.




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Bill Leslie