WEST GLACIER – Give people a chance, and we’ll rank anything, from best small towns to worst big cities. Hot dogs, colleges, most-wanted criminals, least-favorite fast food joints, states with the most obese people, football teams, tennis players, movies, county health departments – almost any subject is open to being ranked.
Including, now, national parks.
Contributors to USA Today Travel’s 10Best have nominated 20 to compete for best national park.
Montana’s two – Glacier and Yellowstone (the latter of which, of course, we share with Wyoming and Idaho) – are among the finalists for the Reader’s Choice award.
You can vote at 10best.com/awards/travel/best-national-park. You can vote once per day, and voting ends at 11:59 a.m. July 14.
The 10Best website says it wants to “pit mountains against canyons, lakes against rivers and coasts against prairie.”
Travel writers David and Kay Scott, authors of “The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges,” picked the 20 finalists.
Of Glacier, they said, “Covering more than 1 million acres, Glacier National Park in Montana has something for everyone. Hikers come to explore the 700-mile network of trails. Road trippers and motorcyclists come to ride the curves of Going-to-the-Sun Road, and engineers come to marvel at it. The massive, snowy peaks of the Continental Divide hide azure alpine lakes, colorful patches of wildflowers and the occasional cascading waterfall.”
Their pitch for Yellowstone: “America’s first national park is also one of its most iconic. Home to the world’s largest collection of geysers, including the famous Old Faithful, Yellowstone attracts some 3 million visitors a year to its bizarre geological formations and teeming wildlife, including bison, bear, bighorn sheep, trumpeter swans, moose, elk and river otter.”
Here’s the competition the Scotts have handed Glacier and Yellowstone:
• Acadia National Park in Maine.
• Big Bend National Park in Texas.
• The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina (technically not a national park, but under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service).
• Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks in Utah.
• Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.
• Death Valley, Lassen Volcanic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon (nominated as one entity), and Yosemite national parks in California.
• Everglades National Park in Florida.
• Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
• Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
• Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
• North Cascades and Olympic national parks in Washington.
• Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
• Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.