Linda Mohammad never set out to write a book, but after traveling to all 63 National Parks we can be glad she did. Her new journal offers advice from her experience and lots of space for recording your own adventures. Below, excerpts from her Top 5 National Parks.

The story behind this colorful journal started simply as a desire to stay fit and not be confined to a gym. The California national parks were her “starter kit,” and weekend ventures gradually became expeditions to other West Coast parks and then farther afield.

Before she became a park expert, Linda had studied geology at the Colorado School of Mines. Students were required to draw pictures of rock formations and keep a journal of their observations in a notebook. Her new book has taken a similar approach. It’s filled with facts about each park, and there’s ample place to make your own observations. It’s a great format to bring the study of the world around us to a national park guide, notching off parks as you go.

The National Park Bucket List Journal is also a gateway to a community of national park travelers Linda joined almost by accident. She started uploading photos to an Instagram group – aptly called National Park Geek – and she eventually became the Chief Geek Ambassador.

A Growing Community

Digital connections turned into friendships with like-minded people who share a deep appreciation of the land and those who are bound to protect it. The more parks she went to, the more involved she became in the parks community and the greater understanding she gained of the fragile ecosystems surrounding them. For each park entry in the book she also notes the cultural heritage of the park and the tribes that once lived there. Her hope is that their descendants become co-managers of the parks to help preserve them for the future.

After COVID the national parks and public lands have seen a huge rebound in visitation, making the planning process all the more important. Online guides can be unreliable, and sometimes it’s hard to vet where the information is coming from. Before she wrote the book Linda was already a go-to source for those who want to do all 63 parks or even just go on a weekend outing. This book distills her knowledge into a beautifully illustrated guide.

Linda has funded all her own travel without sponsorship of any kind. She freely admits to a love of planning, a useful skill when you’re visiting as many parks as possible and staying on budget. This doesn’t come through in the book, though you get the feeling talking to her that her blog (The Bucket List Traveler) will offer ways to plan efficiently, economically and sustainably. Unbiased hints on how to save money and resources are insider information we can all benefit from.

Like the book, Linda is easily approachable, and she’s happy to share her experiences in hopes that others will discover the joy of visiting our protected spaces. “Representation matters. The fact that I am out there, doing my thing, does inspire solo female travelers and people of color,” she says. She also encourages people to support parks, if not monetarily then by joining a park foundation – as she did for the Channel Islands National Park Foundation, where she serves as a director. This book is a fun way to explore the parks, get you inspired to get out there and record your own journey along the way.

Linda’s Top 5

Top photo of Linda Mohammad in Death Valley National Park (photo courtesy of Linda Mohammad)