"My mom was sick and dying of cancer and we were distracted. And I had forgotten that. All of the sudden, lying there awake in Yosemite, I could remember what his hand felt like in mine, I could remember all the songs he sang to me, the hike we took. It was mind-blowing. It just changed my life," Burns said. "So now, in some ways Yosemite and Shenandoah are paired in my mind as my favorite places."
So let's go over our list. Hopefully, you too will soon have a favorite.
#10: Acadia National Park We begin where the sun first hits the shore of America, at Acadia National Park.
This park along the rugged Maine coast has 125 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of spectacular carriage roads that can be explored by bike or a horse-drawn carriage tour. Kayaking and canoeing are popular activities and two beaches in the park offer salt and fresh water for swimming.
Acadia is an excellent park to watch spring warblers, sea ducks, and migrating birds of prey. Ranger-led birdwalks are offered from late spring to mid-fall.
For some breathtaking views of the ocean, mountains and surrounding forests drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road. To get high above it all, add in the 3.5-mile road up Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet, Cadillac is not only the tallest mountain in the park, but also the tallest mountain along the eastern coast of the United States. Rising high above the town of Bar Harbor, Cadillac offers magnificent views of the Porcupine Islands and Frenchman Bay.
#9: Everglades National Park There's no better place in the country to see crocodiles, panthers, manatees and the Atlantic Bottlenosed Dolphin than Everglades National Park.
This park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, boasts rare and endangered species. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to all people of the world.
The national park is the 3rd largest in the lower 48 states, covering 2,500 square miles. There's no one point to start your journey. The park can be accessed from Everglades City to Homestead to Key Largo.
Camping, boating, hiking, and even a visit to a former missile base in the center of the park are all possible in the Everglades.
The park can be explored by airboat, regular boats, tram tours and perhaps the most serene way to sightsee: by canoe or kayak. Everglades National Park has 156 miles of canoe, kayak and walking trails. To really get away from it all, consider the 47 designated wilderness campsites, a real great opportunity for solitude.
Popular activities range from photographing the birds to hiking to watching alligators or to just sitting around a campfire relaxing.
#8: Arches National Park To get a sense of the real power of wind and water, come to Arches National Park in southeastern Utah.
The park preserves more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, and many other unusual rock formations. In some areas, the forces of nature have exposed millions of years of geologic history. The extraordinary features of the park create a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures that is unlike any other in the world.