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The Five Worst National Parks In USA
- Gates of the Arctic National Park
Everything you ever wanted to know about Gates of the Arctic National Park
An ominous title for sure! Before we start, a few qualifying remarks are needed. First, this writer loves the National Park System. I have been to many of the national parks in the country and have found great enjoyment and peace while visiting them; I have stood in awe at the majesty of Yellowstone, have hiked most of Mt. Rainier National Park and stood in stunned silence in Yosemite. I have personally visited thirty-two of the fifty-eight national parks and will visit many of the remaining ones before my time on earth has ended. However, there are some that I will never see and this article will help to explain my reasons for those choices.
Secondly, this article is completely tongue-in-cheek and really needs to be read in that spirit. I fully realize that my tastes are individual in nature and as such I am more than willing to accept the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Now, if you can accept those two qualifications, I hope you enjoy my list of the Five Worst National Parks in America.
The National Park Service has been protecting and preserving the fifty-eight National Parks since 1916 and considering continual budget restraints they have been doing a bang-up job. Latest figures tell us that over 285 million visitors each year thrill in the natural beauty of these parks and despite a down economy the numbers continue to stay steady and strong. Americans do, indeed, love their national parks. My goal, because these are tough economic times, is to save you the trouble of spending money visiting parks that clearly lack the appeal of, oh say, Great Smoky Mountains or Yellowstone. In other words, why be miserable on vacation when you have had to work hard and save for your one vacation each year? Here, then, is my list of the Five Worst.
#5 JOSHUA TREE
No, this park does not consist of just one tree! It encompasses parts of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and includes sand dunes, dry lakes, desert scenery (is there such a thing?) and yes, quite a few Joshua Trees. For the un-initiated, the Joshua Tree was so named by the Mormons when they crossed the Mojave Desert because it reminded them of Joshua in the Bible raising his hands in prayer. Okay, I get it, the tree is unique in appearance and has some religious significance, but still, IT IS JUST A TREE! Not only is it just a tree but it grows in abundance IN A DESERT! How long can you stand in temperatures that hover near 120 degree staring at a tree before you start to question your sanity?
#4 THEODORE ROOSEVELT
My first impression of Theodore Roosevelt National Park was: where is the park? The next thing I thought of: please Dear God, don’t let anyone who knows me drive by and see me looking at this sorry excuse for a park? I kind of understand the appeal of this North Dakota park; I mean, there are colored canyons and a cabin where our former President lived is in the park and there are hiking trails and all that….but…..IT IS IN NORTH DAKOTA! You can put a dress on a pig and at the end of the day you still have a pig. During the summer it is ungodly hot and in the winter it is ungodly cold and no matter what season it is ungodly windy. My son refused to tell his classmates where he went on vacation the year we visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park; he was ten at the time and even at that age he knew he risked being a social outcast if anyone knew his secret.
#3 GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS
This park uses Guadalupe Peak, the highest landform in Texas, as its main point of interest. Isn’t that a little like saying that a pimple is the best feature on your face? What does that say about your face? In the case of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the face is Texas, a state that will never be confused with natural beauty unless, of course, natural beauty to you means desert flora and fauna. The park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert and as such has about as much appeal as a pot roast after my grandmother burned it for Sunday dinner. The park was founded in 1966, meaning that for forty-six years now people have actually visited this park in sufficient numbers to warrant its continual operation. Like the old saying goes, “there is a sucker born every minute.”
#2 DEATH VALLEY
The website will tell you that Death Valley is the hottest, lowest and driest place in the United States where temperatures can reach 130 degrees during the day. If that doesn’t scream FUN VACTION I don’t know what will. Oh, wait, maybe the name itself will entice you to visit there….a valley associated with death! If someone can explain the allure of this place to me I am more than willing to listen. I have been there; I stood in heat so severe I could feel my brain boiling, and I looked out over a landscape so barren that it made me long for Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Now that, my friends, is a place to avoid at all costs.
#1 GATES OF THE ARCTIC
The northernmost park in the United States, Gates of the Arctic has no facilities, no roads, no trails, no campgrounds; what it lacks in amenities it more than makes up for in an abundance of grizzlies, wolves, and black bears more than willing to make your visit there a trip to remember. If your life-long dream is to become a meal for a predator then by all means spend thousands of dollars to fly there and then go for a casual stroll into the park. This park has been a part of the National Park System since 1980 and somehow, for some reason, despite all logic dictating that you stay away, a handful of visitors go there each year. No, I have never visited this park and no, I never will. Daddy didn’t raise no fool!
There you have it! Let the water-cooler debates begin. If you should choose to visit one of these parks despite my best attempts to convince you to stay away, then may the gods have mercy on your soul. I have better things to do like taking out the garbage or watching paint dry or having a tooth pulled without anesthetic.
Hopefully you all realize this article is intended to be funny. Give me the option between visiting one of these parks and any major city in the United States and I would take these parks every single time.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)