Mastodon Mastodon

2012 was among my best trip years yet

It didn’t quite turn out this way, but it was an ambitious travel year nonetheless.

While I’ve had some amazing travel years, 2012 surprisingly ranks near the top.

I made it to 39 national park units I had not yet visited, took my first big solo national park road trip, visited a few new states and two new parts of the country, made it to the first Graham family reunion in several decades, marked off a few straggling park units that had dogged me for years, rafted and backpacked in some amazing places, gained a nickname for visiting all three specimens competing for the title of the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, started a new quest to hit all of the highest points of relatively flat states, and stopped by over one hundred roadside oddities and attractions. And, of course, created some fabulous memories.

And while I missed out on anticipated trips to finish up the South, attend ASU’s bowl game, and hit San Francisco, it’s hard not to consider the year a great success.

Here’s the list of where I went this year:


  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Navajo Bridge)
  • Arches National Park (Delicate Arch)
  • Yucca House National Monument
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area

Great Waters of the North – August (incomplete listing)

  • Missouri National Recreational River
  • Niobrara National Scenic River
  • Voyageurs National Park
  • Grand Portage National Monument
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • Isle Royale National Park
  • Keweenaw National Historical Park
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Lincoln Home National Historic Site
  • Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
  • Effigy Mounds National Monument
  • Mississippi River National River & Recreation Area
  • Saint Croix National Scenic River
  • Northwest Angle – Angle Inlet
  • The remaining two Largest Balls of Twine
  • Three highest points: Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin
  • Roughly 60-70 other roadside oddities…

Hohokam Pima National Monument with Kim – July

Graham reunion & Roadside oddities of the Prairielands – July

  • Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
  • Nicodemus National Historic Site
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Chickasaw National Recreation Area
  • President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
  • Buffalo National River
  • World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the Walk of Twine (Cawker City, KS)
  • Mount Sunflower (highest point in Kansas)
  • Panorama Point (highest point in Nebraska)
  • Chase County Courthouse – longest continuously operated west of Mississippi River
  • Council Grove and associated historical sites
  • Rock City
  • The hole where the guy who killed the guy who killed President Lincoln lived
  • Geographic Center of the contiguous US (and chapel)
  • Nazareth Convent and public gardens in Concordia
  • Garden of Eden
  • Bowl Plaza public bathrooms
  • Jack Kilby Memorial
  • World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things
  • Pawnee Rock
  • Santa Fe Trail ruts
  • Rush Center, Home of the Largest St Patrick’s Day parade
  • Barbed Wire Museum & Hall of Fame
  • Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark
  • World’s Largest Easel & Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
  • Kit Carson Lookout
  • Tri-state boundary marker (NE-CO-WY)
  • Eiffel Tower of Texas
  • Oklahoma Truck Supply sign

Chaco with Mom – May

  • Chaco Canyon National Historical Park

Utah Canyons – May

  • Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch backpack
  • San Juan River rafting (Sand Island/Bluff to Mexican Hat)
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Gila – April

  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
  • Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway
  • Catwalk National Recreational Trail
  • Mogollon (ghost town)

Grand Canyon – April

  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Agua Fria National Monument

San Diego – January

  • Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
  • Anza Borrego State Park
  • Pacific Beach

Forts and Seashores – December 2011/January 2012

  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
  • Fort Moultrie
  • Fort Sumter National Monument
  • Charleston, SC
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument
  • Savannah, SC
  • Fort Frederica National Monument
  • Cumberland Island National Seashore
  • Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
  • Fort Caroline National Memorial
  • Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument
  • Canaveral National Seashore
  • De Soto National Memorial
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore

It’ll be tough to top this list, but I’m hoping 2013 will yield some amazing trips as well.

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