National Park Running

At the beginning of 2021, we found ourselves with some unexpected free time. Before the pandemic, our goal was to own a couple of vacation rental properties which would provide some income and the opportunity to live part-time in both locations, ideally one on the beach and one in the mountains. Despite that goal, in 2020, we sold our beach condo, so we did not have a place to spend our free time. 

Although it’s not the most fantastic time to be vagabonds again, we’ve made the best of it with the help of Sean’s parents. Their home in Arizona has a detached casita, which we based out of during the spring. We were able to get covid vaccines in Arizona, so we hit the road with a loose plan to run in a few parks we haven’t yet visited.

According to the National Parks Service, there are 63 “national parks,” and we had only visited 15 of them, now we’ve been to 18. We ran in Sequoia NP, the Grand Canyon NP, Saguaro NP, Joshua Tree NP, and a handful of city, county, and state parks with our free time. Below are the highlights of our national park runs.

Saguaro National Park – March 10, 2021

We topped out Wasson Peak via the King Canyon and Hugh Norris trails for a great loop run.

  • Total Miles: 8.04
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,088′
  • Total Elevation Loss: 1,960′
  • Highest Point: 4,738′
  • Moving Time: 2-hours 41-minutes

Grand Canyon National Park – March 15, 2021

We did an out and back run from the South rim down the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden on this trip. We hadn’t been to GCNP since October 2010, when we did a 24-mile R2R hike from the North to the South in 14 hours. 

  • Total Miles: 9.73
  • Total Elevation Gain: 3,170′
  • Total Elevation Loss: 3,050′
  • Highest Point: 7,213′
  • Moving Time: 3-hours 30-minutes

Sequoia National Park – April 18, 2021

We ran an extended variation of the Giant Forest Loop by adding a trip up Moro Rock, which I strongly recommend seeing.

  • Total Miles: 9.35
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,075′
  • Total Elevation Loss: 2,016′
  • Highest Point: 7,160′
  • Moving Time: 2-hours 15-minutes

Joshua Tree National Park – April 21, 2021

We did an out and back on the Lost Palms Oasis trail near the park’s south entrance.

  • Total Miles: 6.57
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,083′
  • Total Elevation Loss: 1,067′
  • Highest Point: 3,501′
  • Moving Time: 1-hour 16-minutes



Hoka Stinson ATR 6 trail runner, Garmin Fenix 6s Pro watch, Osprey Dyna 1.5L hydration vest


La Sportiva Wildcat trail runner, Osprey Duro 1.5L hydration vest

We spent a good deal of March and April running, mostly in the Maricopa County and Scottsdale City Parks. The greater Phoenix area is surrounded by mountains, many of which are designated preserves or parks. In fact, McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale is the largest city park in the US, which is an amazing amenity for the 5-million residents and guests here. Here are our running stats from March and April 2021:

  • Total Run Miles: 142.54
  • Total Elevation Gain: 20,596′
  • Highest Point: 7,160′

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