National Parks: The Bucket List

Residents of Watford City are pretty lucky. 

Right in their backyard is a national park that's a bit of a hidden jewel. Last year, the New York Times selected Theodore Roosevelt National Park as No. 5 on its list of 52 Places to Go in 2016. 

How 'bout that? 

I've traveled all over North Dakota, photographed 301 towns, numerous landscapes, blah blah blah. It's a great place. And there's still more to see. 

Like the National Park System. There's dozens of other landscapes as special as Theodore Roosevelt National Park out there. And I've got my sights set on a few. 

Here's my top 10, in no particular order. I'd like to see half if not most of these this year. 

Acadia National Park: I'd love to see this landscape in autumn. It must be beautiful. I've never been to the East Coast (or east of Wisconsin), so this would be a great, if not extreme, sample. I've seen and read a bit about the Northeast, and it seems like a peaceful, sleepy place in Maine. If I'm not mistaken, Maine has about the lowest crime rates in the U.S. Huh. Comin' for ya, Acadia. 

Bryce Canyon National Park: Now this place just looks cool. Hoodoos. Massive rocks. I imagine it at sunset as eye-popping gorgeous. I've been to the Southwest twice. Bryce Canyon is on the list for the next trip. It's about as far from North Dakota (the flat, unassuming prairie) as one can get, without being an ocean. 

Saguaro National Park: I've been to Saguaro once before, in March 2016 on spring break with my buddy Pace's family. It's a fascinating place. The saguaro is the symbol of the American West, a tall, silhouetted cactus. I'd go back again. Especially since I only saw the west unit. 

Badlands National Park: South Dakota has its badlands too, and I'd be curious to compare them. A cursory look suggests South Dakota's badlands are more desert than the prairie that are North Dakota's badlands. But there are still bighorns here, and bison too (I think). And it's not that far from Watford City, so this one may be clinched sooner than later. 

Arches National Park: Once again, the Southwest. I remember seeing pictures of Arches National Park as a kid. I guess it really intrigued me. The arches are almost like nature's own artwork, similar to the layers of the badlands. It's on the list. 

Canyonlands National Park: Ah, again, the Southwest. What can I say? I'm a vicarious fan. Maybe I can see Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon along the way. My map of Utah and Arizona is poor, but those are all close together, right? No? Maybe? OK. 

Voyageurs National Park: This one's a little closer to home. A video highlighting Voyageurs' northern lights and lakes hooked me. I've got to see it. It's probably the closest national park to North Dakota, if I'm not mistaken, unless Badlands or Wind Cave are closer. I'll need to rent a kayak for Voyageurs as 90 percent of the park is accessible by water only. Best of all, I've got plans to camp here June 18-20. 

Biscayne National Park: I've never seen the ocean. This park seems like a good place to do that. I've never been anywhere tropical either. Basically, it's a brand new experience all around. See you soon, Biscayne (hopefully). 

Dry Tortugas National Park: This place just looks badass. Check it. 

Isle Royale National Park: Again, this park looks like one of the closer ones to North Dakota. It's pretty big too. Isle Royale measures 45-by-9 miles, and no doubt you've heard of its wolf and moose populations in school. If not, Google that stuff. And again, I'll be hitting this place this summer, likely on June 21. See you soon.