In 2021, I was fortunate to travel to many memorable locations. This includes 12 US National Parks and three Canadian National Parks. The moments outside, hiking, and soaking up the tranquility of the great outdoors are unrivaled for me. In addition to feeling true peace while holding a camera and hiking, it allows me to disconnect from the “real” world. There are no anxieties, stress, or issues to be confronted outside. I only put one foot in front of the other in search of the next great photo.
Below, enjoy a photo and favorite memory from each location!
United States National Parks
Denali National Park
Favorite Memory: We hopped into a ten-person plane in Talkeetna and headed into the Alaskan Range. We circled Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, and eventually landed on a glacier for about 15 minutes. Talk about one of the best experiences ever.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Favorite Memory: While we did take a 5-hour boat cruise through the Kenai Fjords, we never technically set foot in the National Park until walking around Exit Glacier. Seeing this enormous glacier and how much it’s shrunk was eye-popping. We stuck to the lower portion with snowy trails high above, which was a pretty easy 2-mile hike.
Kings Canyon National Park
Favorite Memory: Backpacking into the Rae Lakes basin was the highlight of the summer months. This 30-mile, three-day trip pushed me physically and then rewarded me mentally. I couldn’t believe how stunning everything was. You can read the entire trip here.
Lake Clark National Park
Favorite Memory: The highlight was bear watching. Jaimie and I hopped on a six-person puddle jumper and set off across the Cook Inlet to Chinitnia Bay. After landing on the beach, we ventured half a mile to a grassy opening and saw a dozen grizzlies enjoying the Alaskan life.
Haleakala National Park
Favorite Memory: On our first day, we landed on Maui, took in some sun on the beach, and then drove up to the Haleakala Summit to watch the sunset. While the sun was behind us for this view, the clouds inside the crater captured my attention. I found this view to be so beautiful.
Pinnacles National Park
Favorite Memory: After being in Santa Barbara for a month, I’d forgotten summer exists. So after hanging out in Big Sur, I wanted to check out California’s newest National Park. I took on the most demanding hike in the park at the hottest time of day. Halfway up, I nearly quit as it was miserable. However, once I got out of the sun, I enjoyed the volcanic formations and condors soaring above.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Favorite Memory: This was my second NP of 2021. I headed up here to celebrate my birthday, and Colorado decided to have a little April snowstorm. I love the tiny people skinning up the mountain. The scale is impressive.
Saguaro National Park
Favorite Memory: We headed down to Tucson to celebrate the new year, so this was our first NP of 2021. With the park split between east and west, we hit both sides. This was from the west side, which is more desert than the eastern edge with mountains.
Sequoia National Park
Favorite Memory: A summer trip into the Sierra’s was Jaimie’s first trip to Sequoia. I’m also excited to watch people when they see a Giant Sequoia for the first time. You can tell people all about how big they are, but until you set your eyes on them, it doesn’t do it justice.
Shenandoah National Park
Favorite Memory: My first trip east as an adult was a weeklong adventure into Virginia and Shenandoah with my parents. This stunning sunset graced us from the highest point in the park.
Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Favorite Memory: When you get an opportunity to walk on a glacier, say yes. This was one of the highlights of the Alaska trip, and I couldn’t get enough of this place. The blue lakes, glaciers formed in waves, and stunning mountains around us captivated me at every turn.
Yosemite National Park
Favorite Memory: This was a swift trip, but I always love to spend time in Yosemite. I’m not alone in calling it my favorite place, and there will always be new places to journey to.
Canadian National Parks
Banff National Park
Favorite Memory: Hiking into Larch Valley less than five hours after driving 10 hours from Seattle was an excellent start to a weeklong trip throughout Banff.
Kootenay National Park
Favorite Memory: On this trip, the only parts of the park I saw were from the road. I look forward to taking in its numerous backpacking opportunities in future years.
Yoho National Park
Favorite Memory: Driving from Lake Louise to Emerald Lake consisted of driving through a mini snowstorm and having it clear, which presented ridiculous views higher up on at the pass. However, at Emerald Lake, the waters were clear and the view marvelous. This lake is famous for a reason, and it didn’t disappoint.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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