My 2019 National Park Travel & Photography Bucket List Around the U.S. and Beyond
Each year I have a goal of traveling to 1 new US National Park, 1 new US state, OR 1 new country each year, and 2018 blew that goal out of the water with 6 new national parks, 4 new states, and 2 new countries. So for 2019, I want to keep pushing more travel content, moving from just a Pacific Northwest focus, and my goal is to visit at least 3 new national parks, 2 new states, AND 1 new country. This year, I won’t be able to do as much international travel, so I want to keep exploring the beauty of the United States, traveling to some new places and traveling to some places I’ve been before (but may not have taken photographs of yet). The National Parks will be a big focus this year, as they have always been places that have stirred my adventurous heart, and a big part of my photography goals is to visit every single park. Without further ado, here is my 2019 travel and photography bucket list:
U.S. National Park Travel & Photography Bucket List
Yosemite & Death Valley National Parks
In college, I visited Yosemite National Park for the first time and completed the thirty-mile Panorama Trail, in addition to other hikes. Since the hike was so long, I just brought along a small point and shoot camera, so I regret that I don’t have many photographs from that amazing trip. As for Death Valley National Park, I have never yet visited so I am excited to explore a new area of California. This will be my first trip of 2019, which is a fantastic way to start the year.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park was one of the first parks I visited when I decided to make landscape photography a serious endeavor. I want to spend more time here exploring the areas I didn’t make it to on my first trip, and I am excited to return in general, since it is such an amazing area with coasts, forests, and mountains all in one place.
Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
Late 2018 I did a road trip across the United States, and I visited Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, but I was not able to make it out to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. I have been drooling over images of Zion, and I can’t wait to return to the gorgeous southwest.
Glacier National Park OR Grand Teton National Park
Last year I visited Glacier National Park for the first time and fell completely in love, so I am having a difficult time picking whether I should return or visit a new park nearby (ish), Grand Teton National Park. I have heard so many amazing things and seen so many stunning photographs from Grand Teton, so I might need to give it a visit this year and see it for myself.
Joshua Tree National Park
I visited Joshua Tree National Park countless times during college, but I was not very skilled with my photography and all of the trips were for my Biology field trips. I absolutely fell in love with the desert there, so I can’t wait to be back and finally due its beauty justice in photographs.
Acadia National Park
This year, I want to do even more fall photography and head up north to Acadia National Park. I have never been to this park and I am really excited to see peak blooms out on the east coast of the U.S.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I love love love autumn photography, and this past year I caught some gorgeous color out east for the first time in Smoky Mountain National Park. I am enamored of fall in Oregon, but eastern Tennessee competes strongly with some incredible fiery red and orange leaf displays and stunning mountainous views. I will likely be returning this autumn to see the color again since it was so breathtaking in 2018.
Other Bucket List Travels in the U.S.
I have a few more states I want to visit, not necessarily with National Parks in mind, but for some of their other beautiful locations. I’ll be attempting to get a rare Havasupai permit this year, because I am obsessed with the idea of the contrasting red rock walls with crystal clear blue waters. I will for sure be exploring the Sedona and Phoenix area this year at least, where there are ample phenomenal photography opportunities.
One of my goals for this year is to not only adventure and collaborate with more creators on social media, but also to make more time for my friends IRL. I am hoping to visit a friend from Oregon who moved out to Reno and explore around Lake Tahoe with her. I have only been to Lake Tahoe once before, and it absolutely blew me away. I can’t wait to capture those amazingly clear waters in my camera.
On my trip to Bali at the end of 2018 (post on that trip coming soon!), I met an incredible group of people and made some close friendships. I would love to be able to visit a friend from the trip each year, one of which lives in Alaska. My cousins used to live in the area, and I just remember visiting them once and going on this fantastic glacier cruise. I saw so much wildlife on that one-day boat trip that it stuck with me to this day, despite my young age at the time. If I am lucky, maybe I will even get the chance to visit a new national park while I’m there – Kenai Fjords National Park.
California is a big theme this year, because I have a sort of college nostalgia to return to the places I loved but didn’t get to photograph, but I also want to explore new places along the west coast. Big Sur is at the top of my list because I missed it last year due to the massive landslide, but I am determined to make it there this year.
International Travel & Photography Bucket List
Banff and Jasper National Parks
Banff is another place I visited as a child, before I was into photography, but my memories from there still shine in my mind’s eye clearly of the phenomenal glacier-blue waters and towering, rugged mountains. If I could return this year and make a longer trip out of visiting Banff and Jasper National Parks, that would just make my entire year.
A friend from Bali and I made it our goal to do an African safari together at the end of 2019. I visited Tanzania in high school and it was one of my top three favorite trips of all time. I would love to explore more of Tanzania, or visit Kenya or South Africa and revel in watching their glorious wildlife populations.
Bali stole my heart in 2018 and if the opportunity presented itself to go again, I would be there in a heartbeat. My mind is still enchanted with visions of palm trees, black sand beaches, towering waterfalls, and light-rays falling through rice terraces.
Croatia seems to me like a fairytale land, probably due to the fact that I view much of Europe as a magical fairytale place (blame my German roots). I have been lucky to explore much of western Europe, but I would love to see more of eastern Europe. I am a total waterfall and beaches lover, and Croatia has both of my loves.
Peru is an unlikely trip of 2019, but I would still jump at the chance to go if I can, because it has been one of my top five wish list countries to see for years now. I dream of seeing Machu Picchu, and it didn’t help that my brother had a phenomenal hiking trip there this past year. I also have visited 5 out of 7 continents (another of my endless goals is to visit them all), and Peru would help me reach continent number 6.
And hopefully many more places!
So there you have it, many big travel dreams this year, but I find that if I write down my goals, it helps make them more real in my mind and hopefully makes it more likely that I will achieve them. I am excited to look back at the end of 2019 and see how many of these I visited, and how many unexpected places I am able to visit. What are your 2019 bucket list travel destinations?
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Hey I’m Rebecca!
I’m a freelance travel & outdoors photographer and blogger living in the US but you can find me adventuring around the globe! On this blog I share tips to help you improve your photography, inspiration to explore the outdoors, destination guides, and travel tips, and more to plan your own adventures!
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