You've got 100 days, a motorcycle, and you want to go for a ride.  Well, where are you going to go?  Before I started planning this trip, I made a list of all the places I wanted to see in America, and it turned out that many of them were national parks: Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Zion, Glacier, Big Bend. Then I started looking at maps and thinking about a route.  The parks helped give me a focus and a direction.  And then I found out about the stamps.

In the spring of 1990, two motorcyclists, Iron Butt President Mike Kneebone and his friend Bob Higdon started a little competition visiting national park sites on their motorcycles.  They discovered that each park site has a rubber stamp with the park name and location, as well as the date. The National Park Service sells a passport book (for $6.95) which you can fill up with these stamps as a memento of your visit and to prove you were there.

Mike and Bob's friendly competition turned into a contest: The Iron Butt Association's National Parks Master Traveler Award. To complete the tour, and be eligible for Iron Butt Membership, you must visit at least 50 park sites in at least 25 states on your motorcycle within any 12 month period. (To see the complete rules visit http://www.ironbutt.com/intro/indexnpt.htm.)  Fodor's, in their 1998 Complete Guide to America's National Parks, lists 376 National Park sites.  Getting to at least 50 of them isn't much of a problem.  The problem, for most people, is motorcycling to 25 states in one year.  When I found out about all this, I thought it sounded like something right up my alley.

Since June 17th, 1999, I have collected 500 national park cancellation stamps in 48 states, and Washington D.C.  During my 100 Day 48 State ride I found 217 of them.  You could say it has become a bit of an obsession.  Indeed, running around the country collecting these stamps may seem slightly ridiculous to most people. But the quest has allowed me to visit some of the most scenic and interesting parts of the country. It was also a key factor in planning my trip routes.

By my count, using a variety of sources and actual on-location discovery, there are more than 600 different national park cancellation stamps.  Some national park sites have multiple locations with different stamps.  And then there are the National Trails.  And don't forget the Affiliated Areas, as well as the National Heritage Areas.  Some of them have stamps too.  I called up Eastern National, the company that actually administers the stamp program for the National Park Service, and got a three page list of "Cancellation Station Locations" (form PUB001) from them.  This list has many sites named on it, but much of it is wrong and confusing. Are far as I can tell, no one actually knows how many stamps there are out there.

To see my Master List of all the stamps I've collected so far, CLICK HERE
(WARNING - this is a very large file and may be slow to download)


To see the list by state, and to view the actual stamps, CLICK HERE

The United States National Park System contains almost 400 national parks, memorials, monuments and historic sites, encompassing everything from The Statue of Liberty to Death Valley to The Blue Ridge Parkway. The National Park Service has divided the parks into 28 categories. The following is a list of the categories as well as their standard abbreviations which I have used on these pages.

International Historic Site (IHS)
National Battlefield (NB)
National Battlefield Park (NBP)
National Battlefield Site (NBS)
National Historical Park (NHP)
National Historical Park and Preserve (NHP & PRES)
National Historical Reserve (NH RES)
National Historic Site (NHS)
National Lakeshore (NL)
National Monument (NM)
National Monument and Preserve (NM & PRES)
National Military Park (NMP)
National Memorial (N MEM)
National Park (NP)
National Park and Preserve (NP & PRES)
National Preserve (N PRES)
National River (NR)
National Recreation Area (NRA)
National Recreation River (NRR)
National River and Recreation Area (NRRA)
National Reserve (N RES)
National Seashore (NS)
National Scenic River or Riverway (NSR)
National Scenic Trail (NST)
Parkway (PKWY)
Scenic and Recreational River (SRR)
Wild River (WR)
Wild and Scenic River (WSR)

Check out http://www.nps.gov/parks.html for an almost complete list of sites.


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