Today we’re sharing another post in our 2019 “Park Chaser Profiles” series. Each Q & A interview features the story of a national park traveler. Whether you are visiting your first park or your 400th, we hope the travel tips and shared experience helps inspire your next national park adventure. Check out today’s post with Theresa from National Parks with T!
We’re so excited to introduce you to Theresa, aka NationalParksWithT. You may recognize her since she’s been a frequent commenter on our articles here at Park Chasers. We love having her travel insights and are excited to share how she fell in love with the national parks with all of you!
Meet Theresa from National Parks with T
Park Chaser Profile: Theresa Campbell from National Parks with T
Total Park Count: 78 of 419
Most Recent Park: Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Hawaii
The Next Park You’re Planning to Visit: I tentatively have a trip on the books for next year to visit Pinnacles, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, though I will definitely hit up some Northeastern sites on day trips before then.
Where can we find you online?
About National Parks with T
How did your interest in the national parks get started?
When I was 4 years old, gas was cheap (they tell me about 10 cents/gallon). My parents–both educators–packed up the car and drove us across the country to Phoenix and back, stopping at many NPS and other public lands sites on that summer journey.
While I didn’t have many clear recollections of that trip by the time I was an adult, I would have feelings of Deja Vu whenever I would see certain images. I was like Richard Dreyfuss seeing the Devil’s Tower in his mashed potatoes ala Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Except for me, I saw Mount Rushmore looming behind every rural Dairy Queen.
I finally asked my Dad about it one day and he confirmed that we had visited Mount Rushmore, and that it was highly likely that we’d stopped for ice cream after leaving the park.
What was your first visit to a national park like?
Growing up on Staten Island, I spent a lot of summers at Sandy Hook, never realizing it was part of the NPS.
But my first visit to a national park unit as a young adult where I began to appreciate the extent of the park system and the wonderful job they do interpreting and preserving our nation’s treasures, was to Muir Woods National Monument.
I was visiting my cousin, who had recently moved to the Bay Area. We were both native New Yorkers who had never before seen a giant redwood and we just wandered the trails speechless, reading the signs and learning about the beautiful place.
Do you collect anything or have any special traditions you do at each park you visit?
I pick up a pin from each park we visit and display them on a bulletin board in my home office. I didn’t start doing this until around 2011, so there are some units I will have to revisit someday to get my pin.
Which parks have you liked the most? Do you have a favorite?
A river guide near Glacier National Park asked me this last year and I said my favorite is always the park I happen to be visiting at the moment. I try to live in the present so I can appreciate the accomplishments of Alexander Hamilton at the Hamilton Grange National Memorial instead of wishing I was hiking in the Grand Canyon.
Park Chasing & Travel Advice from National Parks with T
How do you decide where to travel next?
Often, we are planning our trips around family and friends. For instance, when my daughter’s best friend moved to Oregon, we planned a trip, which included the friend, to Redwoods National and State Parks, Crater Lake National Park
How do you plan
your itinerary when you pick a park? Do you like to have a set plan for the entire visit or like to decide when you get there?
My family appreciates a structured itinerary. (Well…maybe ‘tolerates’ or ‘has grown accustomed to’ would fit better than ‘appreciates’ at times!)
My husband, daughter and I have different interests and levels of physical fitness, so it is important to incorporate a little of something for each of us so no one gets bored or so exhausted they’d rather be at work. Sometimes my California cousins travel with us, and the first thing they ask for when we meet is the printed schedule.
your go-to resources you use when planning national park trips?
For building my itineraries and keeping track of reservations, I use Trip-It, which functions nicely across platforms and allows for sharing with other users. For researching activities and places to see, I use the websites for all of the National agencies, the State Park websites, Trip Advisor and Yelp.
Some people find planning big vacations and road trips overwhelming and too much to handle. Why do you think people believe that? What would you say to them?
I started planning (and paying for) the Hawaii trip two years in advance. Give yourself plenty of time and it won’t be so stressful. Learn when reservations open up for in-demand resources and set a calendar reminder for yourself so you don’t miss out on that cabin on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.