Passport to Your National Parks

When my wife and I were stationed in Hawaii in 2008, we took a long weekend to travel to Maui and visit Haleakala National Park. After driving the 10,000 foot ascent to the top of Pu’u’ula’ula Summit, we were disappointed to find that the crater was almost entirely socked in by cloud and fog. Through our camera lens, we could barely pick out the features below us from multiple vantage points. Sad that we would not have some great photographs to record our trip, I recommended that my wife purchase a National Park Passport that she could get a cancellation stamp. I mentioned that my family had a Passport book since the late 1980s and I hadn’t brought mine along as I already had a stamp from Haleakala. Totally expecting my wife deride me for the nerd that I am, I was pleasantly surprised when she told geeked out over the concept and purchased her own.

As much of our travel with our children has occurred internationally, we have not had the chance to visit many of our National Parks. Moving back to Maryland this summer changed all that and both M1 and M2 picked up Centennial copies of the National Park Passport. Following a rather adventurous day on the National Mall, we found that the potential for running out of stamping space, so we also purchased the Passport to Your National Parks Collectors Edition.

How it Works:

The passport is broken up into geographic regions with each region given a corresponding color. The map of each region provides a generalized location of all National Park sites and a text listing for all of the sites based on state and alphabetical order. The following pages provide enough space for 20 cancellation stamps. Stamps locations can be found at the visitor center of each park, generally near the admission desk or in the gift shop. Included on each page is a section where visitors can place full-color image stamps of a particular park. These image stamps are often sold in yearly sets with one national and nine regional stamps.

The one downside is that the smaller passports can fill up quickly if you are gung-ho about visiting lots of National Parks. This is the benefit of the Collector’s Edition, as there is room for all of the sites recognized as National Park locations with a description of the park. At the end of each region there are also spots for additional cancellations that can provide space for special stamps like the Park Service Centennial Special Stamps, site-specific stamps for a particular location in a park, or if you wanted to include stamps from states that have a state park stamp program.

Why They are Great!!!:

The Passports are a great way to build on a student’s knowledge of geography and inspire a love of travel. When I was younger, my family would give me a tentative location that we would be traveling to on our vacation that year. I would then sit down and page through my Passport (pre-Internet) to see what sites were nearby. The passport gave me a chance to have my input into helping plan the trip. Plus, they are just a fun reminder of when you visited a site, with a unique memento.

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