Theodore Roosevelt National Park was my first national park. Indeed, a trip to the western-North Dakota park is one of my earliest childhood memories and probably my first family vacation.
I remember piling into the car with my sisters and parents and driving for what seemed like days. Actually, it was a four-hour drive from our home. But from that packed backseat, the flat terrain along Interstate 94 had an endless quality.
Once we arrived, though, I was transfixed by the park – its herds of buffalo, the adorable Prairie Dog Town, and the endless rolling hills of the Badlands.
Later family trips would take me to Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, and Redwood national parks – all gorgeous and remarkable in their own ways.
I believe those family trips planted the seed for my love of the outdoors. They also made me appreciate the natural beauties that have been preserved all over the country. As an adult, I have gone on to visit many more national parks.
But I’m glad my first park was one that paid tribute to Theodore Roosevelt, the father of so many of America’s national parks, reserves, and national forests. Considered the “conservationist president,” Roosevelt is said to have shaped his views about preservation during his time ranching in the Badlands of North Dakota.
Although I have always loved national parks, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has cut off access to so many of the parks has made me appreciate these national treasures even more.
So, during this National Park Week of 2020, I am highlighting my favorites. Here are 9 national parks that are truly knockouts.