National Parks in the Southeast – Visiting them all

OCMU - swamp

As I prepare for my talk on Le Chemin de St. Jacques (Monday Dec. 2 at REI/Asheville), people keep asking me what my next adventure will be. Without getting too philosophical, I ask “what is an adventure?” Is it a project, a trip, a goal out of the ordinary? Is it achieving something that most people haven’t done? Or is it a goal that may not be reachable?

Whether it’s the Appalachian Trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, or Le Chemin de St. Jacques, my adventures require time and persistence much more than physical strength or skill. So with my next project–visiting all the park units in the Southeast by 2016. The year, 2016, is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Park units include much more than just national parks. It’s battlefields, monuments, seashores and everything else under NPS administration. Why the Southeast? That’s where I live and where I want to understand my environment. It’s also my next step to becoming a Southerner.

I’m not starting from scratch. I created a list of all the NPS units in the Southeast, as defined by the National Park Service. If a park unit spans more than one state, I only counted it one. The states include:

Alabama – 5 units

Florida – 11 units

Georgia – 11 units, including the Appalachian Trail. Yes, scenic trails count

Kentucky – 3 units

Louisiana – 4 units

Mississippi – 6 units including the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

North Carolina – 10 units including the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail

Puerto Rico – 1

South Carolina – 6

Tennessee – 7

Virgin Islands – 5

That makes 69 units, of which I’ve visited 39 units over the years.

What do I mean by “visiting”? How much time and effort do I spend on each one? That might be a subject of another blog post.

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