So here we are. It has been about 3 1/2 years since my family and I set out to visit 100 National Park units by 2020. At the time, in July of 2014 it seemed like a daunting but achievable goal. We needed to strategically plan our trips to average 18 National Park units per year for 5 1/2 years. Yet, here we are, with our National park units visit count at 89, talking about how we will achieve our goal by the end of this summer, 18 months ahead of our goal!
Annual Ng Family Summer Adventure Reveal Day!
My wife and I have made an annual tradition on NFL Pro Bowl Sunday (The weekend before the Super Bowl) to reveal to the kids where our Summer adventure will be! This year was no exception. They each opened a small box with a clue inside: a pineapple, a coconut, and a Hawaiian-themed cup. We then followed it up with a “50” candle to mark Hawaii as our 50th state! As you can see, they are super excited! Jeez, they have grown so quickly. Here is a picture of the 3 of them when we started our National Park quest 4 years ago at Gettysburg!
How did we do it so quickly?
One of the most common questions I get asked when someone learns of our goal is how do we do it? My answer tends to break down to 3 core advantages:
1. We don’t vacation in the same place year over year.
I know it works for a lot of people but for me, I cannot spend my vacation days visiting the same place over and over again. It is not in my DNA. It is not relaxing to me, adventure is. Exploring someplace new is my idea of relaxation. Because of this, we have spent every MLK Weekend, Spring Break, Memorial Day Weekend, Summer, Labor Day Weekend, Thanksgiving Weekend, Christmas Break search for new places to visit and scratch another National Park unit off our list.
2. We seize every opportunity to add another visit.
This means the time we were at a soccer tournament near Charlotte, North Carolina, we stopped at Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield on the way home. It means that when we planned a place to watch the Solar Eclipse last August, we reviewed the path of totality and cross-referenced it with National Park unit sites and settled on watching from Charles Pinckney National Historic Site outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
3. We group our big trips around multiple sites.
Since we kicked off our goal in 2014 we have taken a major trip every summer that covers a bunch of National Park units all at once. In 2014, we tackled Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. In 2015, we flew to the Grand Circle of Parks and visited The Grand Canyon and 11 other parks in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. In 2016, we took a cruise to the Inside Passage of Alaska and then spent another week in the Pacific Northwest visiting parks in Washington and Oregon. In 2017, we flew into Los Angeles, California and worked our way up the state of California visiting parks like Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Redwoods, and Lassen Volcano.
You can view all of our National Park itineraries here.
11 Units in the Next 5 Months!
Our family had always dreamed of celebrating our goal achievement by saving Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park as our 100th National Park unit visited.Anyone who has visited Hawaii from the East Coast knows a week is not enough time to maximize your days while overcoming jetlag. I have been fortunate to have visited Hawaii 8 times in my life and based on my experiences, I wanted this trip to be at least 2 weeks in length. This meant the summer was our only option as Spring Break and Christmas break are only a week long and not nearly long enough. Sitting at 89 units right now meant that we had to either slow our visits down dramatically to visit Hawaii Summer of 2019 or speed up a bit to visit Hawaii Summer of 2018. Anyone that knows me knows that I never take the foot off the gas pedal. So it looks like we will be speeding up to time it perfectly this June!
This means we have planned the following trips between now and July, 2018!
|90||Pullman National Monument||IL||04/01/18|
|92||George Washington Birthplace National Monument||VA||05/26/18|
|93||Thomas Stone National Historic Site||VA||05/26/18|
|94||Oxon Cove Park||VA||05/27/18|
|95||Maggie L Walker National Historic Site||VA||05/27/18|
|96||USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor||HI||06/17/18|
|97||Pu'ukohola Heiau NHS||HI||06/25/18|
|98||Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park||HI||06/26/18|
|99||Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park||HI||06/27/18|
|100||Volcano National Park||HI||06/29/18|
I’m working on a bunch more content leading up to our trips with helpful tips, itineraries, and pictures of our adventures! In the meantime, check out my new photography site: F/OLLOW GREG. It features all of my favorite photos that I have taken on my travels including a lot from my National Park adventures!