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National Parks Items (10 items)

Big Bend National Park 4 days, US$600 : (We set off from Houston and took an 8-hour drive to our hotel in Fort Stockton, stopping for dinner at Dragon Buffet. The next day, we went to Big Bend National Park, where we went to the Window View and Lost Mine trails. The hiking was OK but it was cold and rainy. We ate lunch on top of Lost Mine Trail. Our dinner was at Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant. The next day, we went to the hot springs for a soak. This Hot Springs is the only hot springs we know of that does not cost money for entrance. After a short picnic overlooking Boquillas Canyon, we hiked Boquillas Canyon Trail. We then ate dinner at Bienvenidos Mexican Restaurant, and went back to our hotel, which we departed the next day for a very long ride home. The entrance fee for the park is $25 per car for 7 days, a fairly good deal compared to all the beautiful sites for us to visit. If we could take the same trip again, we probably would choose to camp inside the park since it took more than 2 hours to drive from our hotel to the park..)
Banff National Park 6 days, US$2500 : (Banff National Park is the best area to visit in Banff region. It had very beautiful lakes like Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake. It also had nice valley/river view at Tunnel Mountain Trail and water fall like Bow Falls. All of these sites can be reached by driving without hiking. The sites were surrounded by nice restaurants and hotels. Lake Louise and Lake Moraine are next to Banff National Park. There is a nice hotel (Lake Louise Lake House) right at the lake side with breathtaking lake view. Lake Moraine is about 15 minutes away from Lake Louise, it’s very pretty too. Oh, everyone would tell you to visit Tea House through taking 2.5 hour trail at Lake Louise. I followed the recommendation. The view is nice but may not worth the effort. Icefields Pkwy entrance is north to Banff National Park is about 30 minutes driving. Then, it would take another 2 hours to get to Columbia Icefields, where you can walk on the glacier ice and get the tour to skywalk. It would take another 1 hour to get to Jasper in north. The ticket for a family of 4 for bus to Columbia Icefields glacier ice and Skywalk is more than $200. It might be exciting for folks never lived in cold weather, but not us. We should have taken more time on Icefields pkwy, which had Sunwapta Falls, Bow lake and Bow summit and more. They are all next to road, no need for hiking to see them. For Jasper, only place we would recommend you to visit is Malgne Canyon. For lakes, we like Lake Louise and Lake Moraine a lot better. Yoho National Park is about 1 hour west to Banff. Emerald lake in the park that can be reached by car is a very peaceful and pretty place to see. In the same day, we revisited sites on Icefield Pkwy such as Bow lake, Bow Summit, Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. Kootenay National Park is located south west to Banff downtown for about 30 minutes. The first site we visited in the park is Marble Canyon, which was the only place in the park we would like to visit again.)
Yellowstone National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park 9 days, US$1800 : (We visited there in 2013. 3 days in Yellowstone Park is enough for visiting the major sites. We just drive by Rocky Mountain, it felt scary when driving along the mountain road because no barriers on the side of the road.)
Carlsbad Cave + White Sand National Park 4 days, US$550 : (Carlsbad Caverns is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world. We liked it due to its unique fabulous room inside the cavern that you won’t be able to see in other caverns. White Sand National Monument is like a big sand beach on land that we still can’t buy in on how it was formed. Other than that, we have no plan to visit it again.)
Banff + Seattle + Vancouver 15 days, US$5700 : (Chihuly Glass and Garden in Seattle was a unique museum of amazing glass art. We highly recommend this as the first place to visit in Seattle. Olympic National Park is west of Seattle about 2 hours travel by ferry and car. It had a coastal beach, temperate rain forest, and glacier mountain views all in one park. Banff National Park is the best area to visit in Banff region. It had very beautiful lakes like Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake. It also had nice valley/river view at Tunnel Mountain Trail and waterfall like Bow Falls. All of these sites can be reached by driving without hiking. The sites were surrounded by nice restaurants and hotels. North Cascades National Park was 2 hours away from Seattle in the north. It has stunning green lake water surrounded by the beautiful mountains with snow on their peaks. The green color of the water came from minerals in the water that originated from the glacier on the top of the mountain. Mount Rainier National Park was south to Seattle about 1.5 hours away. We took the Pacific Crest Trail in the park which was long (2 hrs) but gave us a nice view of the Mountain Rainier as well as a lot of wild blueberries on the way. Icefields Pkwy entrance is north to Banff National Park is about 30 minutes driving. Then, it would take another 2 hours to get to Columbia Icefields, where you can walk on the glacier ice and get the tour to the skywalk. It would take another 1 hour to get to Jasper in the north. The ticket for a family of 4 for a bus to Columbia Icefields glacier ice and Skywalk is more than $200. It might be exciting for folks never lived in cold weather, but not us. We should have taken more time on Icefields Pkwy, which had Sunwapta Falls, Bow Lake and Bow summit and more. They are all next to the road, no need for hiking to see them. For Jasper, the only place we would recommend you to visit is Maligne Canyon. For lakes, we like Lake Louise and Lake Moraine a lot better. )
Great Smoky Mountains National Park 5 days, US$560 : (The Great Smokey Mountain National Park has beautiful views and waterfalls on the trails. It is the most visited one in the United States, with a very well-developed tourist region that has many good restaurants, entertainment facilities, and hotels. Some none-positive takeaways for you if you are planning to go: We would not go back to the same hotel in Gatlinburg where we stayed. Also, we would not recommend visiting the Cherokee Indian Reservation if you had a tight schedule.)
Yosemite National Park + Zion National Park 9 days, US$1800 : (Yosemite is a place you can get many pretty pictures just with iPhone, it's a good place for hiking while enjoying the breath-taking beautiful scenes. Need to book your hotels early, we ended up paying for $150 for a tent. Please bring your water shoes for Zion park, we forgot to do so, so missed the pretty side of the park. Here was what happened: when we entered Zion park, we were told we can go either one of the two directions, we picked the one without requiring to wear water shoes...)
Los Angeles + Las Vegas + Grand Canyon 10 days, US$2000 : (Enjoyed the best and free shows/attractions in LA, Las Vegas. We went to Grand Canyon before, so just stayed for a couple of hours before the end of the day.)
Ozark National Park + Mammoth Cave National Park 4 days, US$600 : (Ozark is the place you can see plants through water. Mammoth is the longest cave in US.)
Hot Springs 2 days, US$100 : (Hot Springs is OK but is not somewhere we would strongly feel like to go back again.It is a good place to visit for a medicine museum where you can learn old medicinal practices and see historical hot spring bath facilities. There are also fresh spring water pumps nearby for you to test out the local spring water.)