The Best Travel Photos of 2017

The Best Travel Photos of 2017

As the year winds down, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journeys we took during 2017. Most of our trips were to U.S. National Parks, since our 4th-grade son had a free Every Kid in a Park pass. Here are some of our favorite travel photos from the past year.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

The Nebraska site showcases mammal fossils from the Miocene Epoch and preserves the Lakota culture.  Read more here.

Lakota culture at Agate Fossil Beds
Teepee frame at Agate Fossil Beds

Badlands National Park

This other-worldly landscape rises from the South Dakota prairie. As we drove through the 20-mile park, we often commented that we felt like we were on another planet. The landscape is stunning. Read more here.

colorful formations at Badlands National Park
Surprising dashes of color permeate the Badlands

Bandelier National Monument

We enjoyed climbing into the cliff dwellings carved out of tuff (formed from volcanic ash), Read more here.

Bandelier Park in New Mexico
Cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

The Colorado site was a trading fort on the Santa Fe Trail. Native America, Hispanic and Caucasian cultures met and formed bonds at the fort. Read more here.

Adobe fort
The American Flag flies high above Bent’s Old Fort outside of La Junta, Colorado

Capulin Volcano National Monument

The volcano was a popular landmark on the Santa Fe Trail. Our kids love earning Junior Ranger badges at the National Parks, and are here sworn in after earning the Capulin Volcano badge.

Read about 4 Things to Do at Capulin Volcano National Monument.

New Rangers at Capulin Volcano
Our Junior Rangers

Custer State Park

The South Dakota park is home to 1000+ bison, deer, elk, bighorn sheep and a small group of burros that are unafraid of human visitors and more than willing to eat carrots from your hand. Read more here.

Burro eats treats at Custer State Park
This friendly burro reached its head into our car.

Denver Botanic Gardens

We call the Front Range of Colorado home. This year we visited the Denver Botanic Gardens in summer. The gardens are amazing, but these ducks captured our attention.

Read more about our adventures at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Duck family
Mom and duckling at Denver Botanic Gardens

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

We stopped at the Wyoming fort on our way to South Dakota. One of the stops on the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express, Fort Laramie was also one of the only U.S. outposts offering military protection around the region. The barracks preserve what life looked like in the 1800s. Read more here.

Fort Laramie barracks
U.S. Army barracks at Fort Laramie.

Fort Union National Monument

One of our favorite stops led us to the former military fort that was one of the last outposts of the United States and was also a stop along the Santa Fe Trail. Read more here.

adobe walls weathering time at Fort Union
Many of the red abode walls still stand at Fort Union National Monument

Garden of the Gods Park

Colorado Springs is home to these massive red boulders. The camera cannot capture the majesty of the boulders. While Balanced Rock is arguably the most photographed spot in the park, I loved this candid moment with my son.

the Red Rocks of the gods
our son admiring the beauty of Garden of the Gods Park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

The largest sand dunes in the U.S. are located in Colorado and are the perfect place for sand sledding. We went during the cool weather of spring, but the sand was still quite warm.

Read about our attempts at Sand Sledding at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Sand Sledding at Great Sand Dunes.
Sand Dunes at the National Park rise over 800 feet.

Mesa Verde National Park

Tucked away in the mesa, one finds the remnants of a lost culture which thrived in the harsh Colorado landscape more than 800 years ago. One of our favorite places to visit this year or any year. Read more here.

Find out how We Survived the Balcony House Tour at Mesa Verde.

Mesa Verde cliff dwellings
Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Who would have guessed that you could visit the silos of disabled minuteman missiles (a reminder of the Cold War)? At the South Dakota site, you can see the nuclear warheads at Delta-01 and Delta-09. Lucky visitors can also tour Delta-01, but you need to reserve the tour in advance. This was one of the most interesting and surprising stops of our travel year. Read more here.

Nuclear silo at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
My reflection as I get a picture of a disabled nuclear warhead at Delta-09.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The iconic memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota had been on our bucket list for some time. Make sure you stay for the nightly presentation and lighting of the memorial. During the evening presentation, active and retired military personnel are invited on stage to honor their service. Read more here.

Family pic at Mount Rushmore
Our daughter at Mount Rushmore

New York City

I took hundreds of pictures in New York City. There is so much to see and do. My sister, however, took this picture of me from Liberty Island.

Read about our trip to New York’s Ground Zero and 9/11 Museum.

Looking at the Big Apple. Photo courtesy of Lana York.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

One of the most recognizable landmark on the Oregon Trail, Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff National Monument saw more than 250,000 pioneers during the great American migration of the 1800s. Read more here.

Wagons Ho
Wagon at Mitchell Pass

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I went on a personal trip with my mom and sister to New York City. Many years ago, my grandfather, then a boy, left the Netherlands with his family and arrived in the United States via Ellis Island. My sister worked to get his name placed on a plaque at Ellis Island, and my mom wanted us to visit. It was a very moving time for the three of us. We also visited the Statue of Liberty where I got this picture. Read more here.

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island
The sun, clouds, and statue aligned perfectly for this shot of the Statue of Liberty

Wind Cave National Park

One of the largest and most complex cave systems in the world, Wind Cave is also home to bison, prairie dogs, ferrets, and coyotes. We captured a lot of wildlife photos at the site. Read more here.

Prairie dogs, bison, coyotes, and deer were seen at Wind Cave National Park
Sunbathing prairie dogs were abundant and showed little fear of predators.

Yucca House National Monument

a short drive from Mesa Verde, but a world away. This national monument is one of the least visited in the NPS. We were the only visitors the day we went. After driving through a cattle farm, you arrive at the monument and can walk through the field finding pottery shards and partially buried brick structures. One of the most unique, personal journeys we took this year.

Isolated National Monument in Colorado
Unmaintained entrance to Yucca House.

Here’s to another great year of travel.

Which of our photos did you like best? Let us know in the comments section. Happy traveling.

Family Well Traveled Best Travel Photos of 2017


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