We’re so excited to be kicking off another year of “Park Chaser Profiles” today with Bonnie and Grant Sinclair from Our Wander-Filled Life! We first met Bonnie and Grant through the National Parks Creative Exchange’s 2020 National Park Week.
Each Q & A interview in our Park Chaser Profile series features the story of national park travelers like Our Wander-Filled Life. Whether you are visiting your first park or your 400th, we hope the travel tips and shared experience in these interviews helps inspire your next national park adventure!
Welcome Bonnie & Grant!
Meet Our Wander-Filled Life
Bonnie and Grant Sinclair
TOTAL PARKS VISITED
231 of 419 units
31 of 62 national parks
MOST RECENT PARK
De Soto National Memorial, Florida
HOW DID YOUR INTEREST IN NATIONAL PARKS GET STARTED?
Bonnie grew up visiting national parks with her family, though it was never a “chase” to visit them all. In college, Grant took a road trip to Montana visiting several parks along the way and fell in love with the all the national parks have to offer. Our first trip together was to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we visited most of the park sites there, without really trying. We quickly discovered a shared love of the parks and have been exploring them together ever since.
HOW DID YOUR BLOG GET STARTED?
We started Our Wander-Filled Life in 2016, after a few summers of informal blogging to keep our family and friends informed of our adventures.
As teachers, we realized that blogging about our travels provided a way for us to teach others how they can have similar experiences.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ONLINE?
What Bonnie & Grant Love About the National Parks
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU VISIT A NATIONAL PARK?
We always start at the Visitor Center, where we check out the exhibits, pick up a map, watch the park film and ask a ranger about any important information. If there are hiking opportunities, we’ll generally head out on the trail to explore on foot. We also make a point to check out any scenic drives.
WHICH PARKS HAVE YOU LOVED THE MOST?
Yellowstone National Park is our favorite because of the variety of amazing things to see and do. Watching the wildlife is always a favorite activity. Add in thermal features, mountains, lakes, rivers and abundant hiking opportunities and we can easily explore for days. We hope to spend an entire summer exploring Yellowstone in a couple of years.
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING OR HAVE ANY SPECIAL TRADITIONS?
Grant gets a magnet on every visit. Our refrigerator is just about completely covered!
ANY FAVORITE STORIES?
One of our most memorable experiences was camping in the backcountry of Big Bend National Park. Our campsite was just a mile or two from the Rio Grande, with likely no other people within several miles of us. We enjoyed an afternoon sitting by the river watching the wild horses wade across, to and from Mexico. After the sun went down, we got to experience just how big and bright the stars are in Texas!
#Parkchasing & Travel Advice
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHERE TO TRAVEL NEXT?
A few years ago, we set a goal to see all 50 states by our 10th anniversary. That provided us significant direction in choosing where to travel for each trip, especially our long summer trips. We were supposed to visit Hawaii this summer (2020) as our 50th state together. Sadly, we’ve had to cancel it due to the current travel restrictions in Hawaii. We’ll try again in 2021.
In terms of planning, we generally set an itinerary for an entire trip, often visiting several sites in one long road trip. We research things to do ahead of time to help us determine how much time we need at each park. We’ll usually fill in gaps and choose specific hikes and other activities once we get there.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU USE WHEN YOU'RE PLANNING TRIPS?
First and foremost, we rely on the park’s official web site. We’ve also found that social media is a good resource for current conditions, especially when traveling in the winter. We also read other blogs and ask friends for recommendations.
WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING OUT ON THEIR #PARKCHASING LIST?
Don’t write off the “smaller” parks! The designated (named) National Parks get much of the attention, but some of our favorite parks are National Historic Sites, National Monuments, etc. All are equally worthy! Get a map that show all of the 419 parks – you can find these at most visitor centers. With this, you can easily find sights near each other and visit several at once.
WHAT DO YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF TIME AND MONEY IT TAKES TO TRAVEL SO MUCH?
We utilize credit card and hotel reward points to help offset costs. Camping is also a good way to save money on hotel and food costs. In the winter, we generally use hotel points for free stays. As teachers, we are blessed with above-average time off from work. Anyone can make the time to travel, though, if they make it a priority.
Between days of hiking in Hot Springs National Park we took a quick day trip detour to President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic
Have your heart set on seeing hot springs in Hot Springs National Park? You’re definitely not the first person traveling to this world-famous park