Reader Participation Day: How Many National Parks Do You Want To Visit In Your Lifetime?

Visiting all, or almost all, of the nearly 400 units of the National Park System is a feat that several dozen people have accomplished or are on the brink of accomplishing.

What drives people to pursue this goal? What are the main benefits and drawbacks?

Is 'bagging all of the national parks' a goal you've set for yourself?


Only 25 I don't have the time to see them all.

my goal is to go to all 52 actual national parks and I am half way there!

I do not think visiting the parks should be a numbers game--trying to get to them all. National Park visitation should be a quality not a quantity experience. Spend the time to get to know and experience a part in-depth, spend days exploring and learning if necessary--the rewards will be greater.

We have visited 29 Nt. Pks. and 12 Nt. Mount. I would love to see all of them, but know that is impossible. They are our favorite places to go for vacations.

We have been to 29 and 13 Nt. Mounments we hope to get to more. Nt. Parks are our favorite places to vacation. We do as much hiking as possible. That is the only way to really see and enjoy the parks

I take the opposite approach of wanting to get to know a few parks in depth. But in finding those few parks, I've probably visited about 40.

My wife and I have a realistic lifetime goal of visting all the actual National Parks and an unrealistic lifetime goal of visiting all of the almost 400 units in the National Park System.

As to visiting all the National Park units....why not? I make a point to at the very least visit the ones near my home(Minnesota) as frequently as possible. And every summer my kids and I plan our vacations with National Parks locations as the destination. This summer it was 2 weeks visiting Acadia and Cape Cod, and when we included a day in Boston and an afternoon at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, we looked at our National Park passport book and saw all the stamps from all the sites we visited. I realized recently that because of all these Historical Sites and Monuments that I am beginning to see our Country very differently, taking into account all the history I have somehow absorbed along the way.
And, like I tell my kids....the MOST IMPORTANT THING we can do for our National Parks is VISIT them.

I would like to see as many as I can before my time on the planet is up. I have seen many NPS sites so far, and though I agree with Aster ptarmicordes that quality is better than quantity, I know for a fact that there are some sites that I visited for just an hour or so because they were on the way to somewhere I was going. Those quick visits, though only scratching the surface of the sites, were still experiences I wouldn't wanted to have missed because I thought I didn't have enough time. It has just given me the desire to visit those sites again when I can make them a focus of a trip.

I agree with suki, some visits are quick because they're on (or near to) my route of travel. Even during short visits, I find that I've always learned something at each site. I've visited about 115 units, 33 of them national parks. I would like to visit them all during my lifetime. It's good to have goal, even if you never reach it.

I have visited 33 units of the National Park System. I have volunteered at one of them. I will spend the winter volunteering at a NPS site. I hope to visit as many NPS sites as possible during the remainder of my lifetime. They are our best gift to ourselves.

Wow, I didn't realize I'd visited so many until I added them all up. 27 national parks (and countless monuments and historical sites), most of them for a week or more. There are at least a dozen I'd REALLY like to visit that I haven't, but mostly I'd like to spend some more time in some of my favorite ones. When we retire, we'll spend a lot of time travelling to national parks and wilderness areas - I can't wait!

I prefer quality to quantity. A person who goes to a nationall park for only a day or less, has visited it, but has not really experienced it.

So far i've visited 152 of 395, with 6 more planned for a trip this month. Of those, 35 being the 52 National Parks. I'm a professional photographer in her 20's and have photographed all 35 NP's since 2007. I'll get all of them, just a matter of time. :-)

It's not so far fetched to think of trying to visit all 395 parks in your lifetime. And I don't think you have to give up quality to do it. Say you really start visiting the parks when you are 20 (although our daughters have been going to parks since they were about 2 years old) and you live to 80 that's 60 years to see almost 400 parks. So, 6 - 7 parks a year? Pick one or two major sites that you can really spend that quality time and then 5-6 smaller sites that really don't require much more than an afternoon. It's not all that impossible over a lifetime. I'm almost at the half way point (my family has visited 186) and hope that in the next 30 years I can see the other half! No matter if I spend an hour or two weeks, each and every experience has been incredible. I agree with many of the comments on here and Suki, your comments are right on track!

I'm not setting any goals OTHER THAN the goal of visiting every year. We usually go west [from TX] ....because the beauty just captivates us ... repeating the AZ & UT ones at least once a year, this year included. But if I have to guess, it's about 10-20 per year. I have no desire to hit them all, like some people who search for all the park stamps. I'm more interested in just getting to the parks to hike and explore before my knees take me down!

So many great comments. And, just like the parks, a lot of diversity. I particularly agree with KC Traveler, reaching the goal is less important than having the goal. (BTW, does the KC refer to Kansas City perchance; my home base) Anyway, if your goal is to see them all, go for it. If you miss a few, so what? I'll bet you had a fantastic time at the ones you saw anyway. If your goal is to get to know just a few parks intimately great. You may miss out on all the other cool parks but you'll have a fantastic time at your selected park repeatedly. Maybe Carol B has the right philosophy, just make sure you go (somewhere) every year.

I was hoping to visit all of them in the southeast in my remaining lifetime. But since the southeast includes Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, I'm not so sure I will make it. But I'm trying. Danny

Of the 58 national parks, I have 7 left to visit. Visiting all of the parks has been a life time goal, to be completed in the next couple of years. Why not visit all of these parks? They are in wonderful places, force you to see America, and make you appreciate nature. I just visited Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, and Big Bend. Try walking down the natural entrance in the caverns without being awed.