After visiting 9 national parks in the US in the last month, I figured it was time for an update on my project to visit every national park in the United States and Canada.
To recap, there are currently 104 places with a “national park” designation between the United States and Canada. 59 in the US and 45 in Canada. As of the time I write this, since the start of my travels in 2007, I have been to 40 national parks in the United States (68%), and 21 parks in Canada (46%). I have also been to an additional 3 national parks in the US which I visited prior to starting my full-time travels in 2007, which I intend to revisit and photograph.
This leaves me with 24 parks to visit in Canada and 20 in the US, which includes the 3 I intend to revisit.
Assuming I make it a priority, I should be able to visit all the remaining parks in the United States within the next year. The parks in Alaska are easily the most difficult to visit and I will have visited all of them by the end of 2016. All of the rest of the parks are a matter of getting in a car and going there. The most challenging one will be American Samoa National Park, but the only challenge there is getting to American Samoa (which I visited in 2007, but I never went to the national park).
A road trip in California/Oregon will cover 6 parks (including all 3 I’ve previously visited). Beyond that, it will be a road trip to Southern Utah and then one off parks in various states. (Maine, South Carolina, Nevada, Texas, USVI)
Visiting all the US national parks will be quite an accomplishment, but I’d hardly be the first person to do it. Relatively speaking, the US parks are easy to visit and it is just a matter of will, time and money.
The Canadian parks, on the other hand, are going to be extremely challenging.
Of the 24 Canadian parks I have remaining, I’d consider 13 of them relatively easy to visit. These are the parks in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. The way I have it planned, these 13 parks could be done in 3 trips: one to Saskatchewan (1), one to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (4), and a two-week road trip through Southern Quebec and Ontario (8).
That is when things get difficult. Really difficult.
All of the 11 remaining Canadian national parks are in the north and are extremely inaccessible. Even the arctic parks in the US are relatively easy to visit compared to the Canadian arctic parks.
There are a few parks in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Manitoba which have small, annual trips for 8-12 people. Some of the parks have no regular organized trips at all. The organized trips which do exist cost several thousand dollars, with the most expensive trips reaching about $15,000.
Basically, once I get over 90 parks things will get so difficult that it will take years to visit the remaining few, all of which are in the Canadian far north.
Once I get down to the Canadian Arctic parks, I think I might expand the project to all 411 National Park Service sites in the US. I’ve been to over 150 already, but that dates back over 20 years. I’d start from scratch, not including the parks I’ve visited for this project.