During my NPS career, I worked or did projects in about 28 parks, mostly in the Southwest.

My favorite is Canyon de Chelly National Monument, primarily because it features two of my main interests - archaeology and rock climbing (also gorgeous scenery).  It is also unlike any other park set aside for its archaeology in that it is also part of the Navajo Nation, thus filled with folk going about their daily lives in a style somewhat akin to that practices centuries ago.  The Navajo cornfields occupy the same space used by the Ancestral Puebloans centuries ago.

They were pretty good climbers in those days as well.  I usually spent my weekends reaching some of  how the trails graded out the more inaccessible cliff dwellings and I often invited friends from Tucson to join me.  One day we had spent a lot of time traversing old toe and handhold routes and I asked my friend how  they graded in terms of difficulty.  He replied, "5.8 or 5.9".  I say that is pretty decent for 1200 CE..... And there is one trail I have never attempted, because I feel it cannot be done safely without setting bolts - an ancient 5.12???





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In my prime, 5.7 was fun, 5.8 was interesting, and 5.9 was damn scary. There are a couple of these Moqui stairs in both Canyonlands and Grand Canyon that completely freaked me out. It's not fun to do 5.7 without a rope.

I will have to list them (at least what I remember). I will likely include National Monuments as my National Park Pass (thank-you NPS for making the pass a military benefit) gets me in. So, here is the list. I am starting with the two I know I visited the most:

1. Acadia National Park, Maine. Family vacation spot since I was a kid. Visited enough times that I been on all the trails and biked all the carriage roads.

2. Baltimore/Washington Parkway. Yes, it is a National Park. Countless times driving on it!

3. DC monuments. 

4. Fort McHenry, Baltimore, MD

5. Gettysburg, PA and Antietam, MD

6. Yorktown and Jamestown, VA. Can’t remember if Colonial Williamsburg is a NP, NM, or a state park. 

7. Everglades, FL

8. Mount Rushmore, SD. And I bought a copy of North by Northwest.

9. Devils Tower National Monument, WY. Bought a copy of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Walked the trail around barefoot as I was feeling some spiritual vibes, and I hate wearing shoes anyway.

10. Brief stop at Yellowstone, WY. That is on the bucketlist.

11. Mount Rainier, WA and several other spots in WA. I fell in love with the PNW. Will go back in a heartbeat.

Bucketlist: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Arches, Glacier, Great Smokey Mountains, and many others.

Difficult to say which is the fav. Acadia due to childhood but as I mentioned, I love the PNW.

I likely visited more NP and NM as my family and friends enjoy visiting the parks. I don’t have my 20+ year old passport in front of me as I leave that in my Jeep so I don’t forget! If I remember more I will add them in.