Mike's Meanderings National Park Treasures

New Year. New Parks. New Travel Plans.

Along with the December to January turn of the calendar comes the practice of making a New Year’s Resolution. According to the history books, you have the ancient Babylonians from about 4,000 years ago to thank for this (usually) insignificant tradition. I say insignificant because, just like New York’s Times Square tradition, the majority of resolution makers “drop the ball” when it comes to maintaining their plans and promises for the new year. Personally, I prefer not to fail. In order to trick my mind into keeping my masquerade of success intact, I just avoid New Year’s resolutions altogether.


It’s not necessarily a bad thing to skip the resolutions. But for me, I do need to set some sort of yearly course for myself. Lately this course setting has involved travel plans. The process goes something like this: Pick a destination. Research the crap out of that destination. Make a list of things I want to do while I’m visiting that destination. Then go there and do a bunch of different things that I hadn’t even read about or researched, but instead discovered along the way!

Voyageurs National Park boat tour
A beautiful stop on Rainy Lake during the 2-hour Life on the Lake Tour at Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota
Apostle Island Cruise Ship
The Captain watches over boarding procedures as the Archipelago, this Apostle Islands Tour Ship, prepares for launch
Yankee Freedom III Dry Tortugas National Park Ship
The Yankee Freedom III docks in the temporarily calm waters in front of Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park

Been There … Now We’re Doing That!
In 2019 this strategy resulted in some great water excursions — National Park trips to Dry Tortugas (Florida) and Voyageurs (Minnesota), plus a National Lakeshore trip to The Apostle Islands. The year also brought the exploration of at least a dozen state parks we had never visited before (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida were involved in this quest.) And you certainly can’t discount the numerous county and regional parks, great wineries, cool Christmas light displays, and a host of other nature adventures that parked us somewhere outdoors.

Bayfield, Wisconsin Wineries
The wonderful wineries of Bayfield, WI
Crocodile sign at a Florida State Park
Obviously not a home state MN park!
Zippel Bay State Park sign
Minnesota’s Northernmost State Park

So far this year we have two big trips in the works, a few more we are considering, and dozens of possibilities we haven’t even thought about yet. One excursion will be our annual anniversary trip south in search of warmer weather. The other is a head-east National Park visit. (No, I’m not revealing the details yet. I guess if you’re really that interested, you’ll just have to keep watching our blog to find out the exact locations!) My point is, my resolution (although I HATE to call it that) is to keep on traveling!

New National Parks Hit the Map
A couple of new destination possibilities just popped up on the radar. Our two newest National Parks were designated just last year. On February 15, 2019, Indiana Dunes, located on the southeast corner of the shores of Lake Michigan, was re-designated from a National Lakeshore to a National Park. Then, just 11 days before the start of this new decade, President Trump whipped out his pen and signed the documents that turned White Sands National Monument in New Mexico into White Sands National Park. (Hmm, just curious. Do White sands mixed with Orange hair blend into an imPEACHment color?)

Although neither of these newly re-designated spots ranks in my top ten list of National Parks to visit, I’m intrigued by what unique features pushed them over the hump of that magical NP status. The photos I have seen of both locations look pretty cool. Especially the snow-white sand of the New Mexico Park. But what exactly is the criteria for choosing a new National Park site? Will there be any more new parks added in 2020? What is your prediction for the NEXT National Park destination? So many questions to be explored this year. And if I do decide to visit one of these new parks sooner than expected, I will definitely do my due diligence and research the place first to find out what must-see areas grace the grounds.

The two new additions mentioned above bring the current U.S. total to 62 National Parks. With Park Yourself Outdoors’ yearly plans currently set on checking the “been there, done that” boxes of one more of our National Parks plus one National Seashore and at least one out-of-state State Park, this blogger’s demand is not quite keeping up with the new supply. Hopefully I can resolve that inadequacy at some point with the addition of subsequent travels this year.

Where Are You Headed?
If you have any great ideas for places you’d love to see me write about in 2020, please post your suggestions in the comments box below or email us at ParkYourselfOutdoors@gmail.com. And if you take any trips you want to share with the other Park Yourself Outdoors readers, definitely contact us at the aforementioned email address. We’d love to know about your outdoor adventures! Otherwise, you’ll just be stuck listening to my ramblings about my own travel desires. So, point us in the right direction and let’s do this thing together!

Wondering where Meandering Mike and Parker Flatly are going to park themselves next? Find out as soon as their latest post hits the Web by signing up for email notifications here!

2 Comment

    1. Terri,
      It will be short, but should be fun! We’re looking forward to it and you will probably see an article about it in a couple of months … stay tuned!

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