No Bad National Parks

How can there be a “worst” national park?

But Yahoo decided to pick the five worst parks in the nation. By their own admission, they did this without much research and much of it tongue in cheek. Usually, I’d just forget about this silliness but the list seems that it upset a lot of people.

National parks were created to preserve and protect a valuable resource. It isn’t always classic pretty scenery.

I’ve been to two of the five “worst” parks recently and feel competent to talk about them.


Congaree National Park near Columbia, South Carolina preserves the largest tract of old-growth floodplain forest. The characteristic bald cypress with their knees out of the water just says floodplain.

Yes, in the summer, there are mosquitoes, so many mosquitoes that the park proudly displays a mosquito meter.

If I wanted to get upset about Congaree, it would be because right now, the visitor center is not open on Sunday. How can a national park not keep its visitor center open seven days a week?

Zabrinskie Point
Zabrinskie Point

This past summer, we visited Death Valley National Park in California. Yes, it was hot. The thermometer outside the visitor center said 115 degrees. The park is in another world. In the summer, it’s barren. Much of the park is below sea level. But that’s the point. It’s different.

So there are no bad parks. There are just different parks.

It’s obvious that whoever wrote the article doesn’t understand national park. They say in their own defense:

But we still think that it’s a real problem to have national parks that are inaccessible or riddled with West Nile and rattlesnakes.

You can’t move a national park. Visitors have to go to them and yes, there will be snakes.




One thought on “No Bad National Parks

  1. Having travelled with Danny to both of the National Parks she discusses and to many others, I agree there are no bad National Parks. I wouldn’t try hiking in Congaree in the middle of the summer – I don’t have that much tolerance for mosquitos – but in the spring and fall it is a fascinating place. We did hike in Death Valley in the middle of summer – short hikes with lots of water and Gatorade. It was also a fascinating place, unlike anything else in the U.S. and perhaps in the world.

    Ken Burns called the National Park System America’s Best Idea. He was right. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t gotten the message and keeps starving the Park Service of the money it needs to do its job right. I’d hate to be the official who had to make the decision to close Congaree’s visitors center on Sunday to make money available for some other critical need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *