It's National Parks Week — This Author Wants to Introduce You to Them All
Get to know our national parks, either in person or from the comfort of your favorite reading chair.
As the daughter of a national park ranger, Becky Lomax has had a life-long fondness for national parks. She grew up in Washington and regularly hiked and skied around Mount Rainier and backpacked in the Olympics. She is now based in Montana and is the author of the new book “Moon USA National Parks: The Complete guide to All 59 Parks.”
Becky has a diverse background as a guide, teacher and writer. Her book is an entertaining guide, whether you’re planning an actual trip or just want to do a little exploring from the comfort of your favorite reading chair. She highlights each park with hiking suggestions, tips on what to see, logistical information and more. She also offers general information on how to make the most of your visit to a national park. In honor of National Park Week, from April 20-28, we chatted with Becky about parks, her book and hiking.
Her favorite parks
“Whatever park I’m currently visiting is my favorite,” Becky said.
That said, she is willing to name a few of her lasting favorites.
Mount Rainier National Park: A fave from her time growing up, Becky still loves the year-round recreation and natural beauty of Mount Rainier National Park, although she doesn’t get to visit as often as she once did.
Glacier National Park: Becky lives near Glacier, and she worked as a hiking and backpacking guide there for a century and her first book was a guide to Glacier. In her “59 Parks” book she highlights the park as particularly great for hiking and viewing stars, thanks to the dark skies.
The Dakotas: Admittedly, this is cheating a bit, because the Dakotas have eight national parks. However, Becky says she was really blown away by the area, with its fascinating geology, including the beautiful, visible erosion of the Badlands and stunning caves of Wind Cave. She also says the area is full of fascinating wildlife, including bison, eagles, coyotes, prairie dogs and pronghorn.
While her books features 59 parks, there are actually now 60 national parks. Gateway Arch in St. Louis was added to the list of national parks after the book was finished.
How she chose her hikes
As she chose hikes to feature for each park, Becky really thought about the question of what made each hike special.
“I asked, what is the heart of the park?” she said. “Then I tried to show what makes that specific park special.”
For instance, in Olympic National Park, visitors can explore such a range of environments, from beaches to forests to mountain tops. She also tried to choose hikes that would be accessible for a range of ages and abilities — and for visitors who have more or less time.
Writing as a hiker
As a hiker, Becky said she always has that perspective in mind while she wrote her book. She knows there are a lot of benefits to being outside, and hiking is one way to enjoy them. And while she certainly includes scenic drives in her books, she appreciates that trails can take visitors to some especially special places. When Becky can, she prefers to spend a lot of time at a park, which gives her time to camp, hike and really soak up the experience. Hiking in particular, offers a really intimate, personal view of the parks, she says.
On the diversity of Washington
If traveling to a far-off national park isn’t in your plans for the year, you can still explore virtually using Becky’s book. And, you can explore Washington’s diversity to fulfill some of your desire for adventure. A few of her suggestions.
For the desert parks of the Southwest U.S.: Try Eastern Washington. Dry Falls is an excellent place to see interesting geology, and look back at the lingering effects of the Ice Age floods. The Columbia Gorge also offers stunning views of ancient geology.
For Glacier National Park: Visit any of our three national parks: Rainier, Olympic or North Cascades. All still have impressive glaciers — although many are receding and some have vanished.
For the beach parks: Explore the Olympic coast beaches. While we don’t have sandy beaches in the style of some of the warmer-climate beaches, we do have a diverse set of beaches all along Washington’s coast. And you’ll find some scenery very reminiscent of Acadia National Park.
3 ways to celebrate National Park Week
- Sign up for our Trail Action Network. Our national parks, and all of our public lands, need all the help hikers can give them. Sign up for TAN to hear when public lands need your support.
- Visit a national park and write a trip report.
- Sign up for Trail News, our monthly email newsletter for hiking tips in national parks and all around the state, all year round.