Support Your National Parks

I don’t know about you, but I clearly remember the first time I clapped eyes upon the Grand Canyon. I was a kid —maybe 5 or 6 years old–and my family road tripped to Arizona to camp near the Big Ditch.

My sister and I had such an amazing time. We made a new friend named Ketchum, a boy that was camping at the site next door. The three of us wreaked havoc, our faces covered in dirt and our hair wild with that carefree nature that comes with a happy childhood.  At night, we all cooked our dinner on the campfire and hung out at the picnic table with our new friend. I’m pretty sure this is where my parents bribed my little sister into relinquishing diapers for life. Apparently, they ran out of them at camp and couldn’t buy them anywhere. As a result, my dad told her that he would buy her a candy bar in the morning if she went all night without going to the bathroom. Turns out, bribery for chocolate is always effective!

National Parks

Sunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park // PC: Will Rochfort

As for the Grand Canyon? I had never seen a hole so deep in my life. As far as my five-year-old eyes were concerned, there could be nothing grander or more amazing than that massive canyon.

Yellowstone National Park left me flabbergasted. Thanks to another family road trip, I sat on a bench watching Old Faithful erupt, my mind utterly confused at where all the water originated. The warm breeze wafted the sulfuric smells under my nose and my sister and I giggled as we watched massive bison walk across the path in front of us. Truly, I had never before seen such prehistoric-looking creatures.

National Parks

Taking in the view at Yosemite Falls

I also remember fighting with my sister over the keys to the car while parked at our campsite. In my utter brilliance, I pulled the ultimate oh-shit movement by locking the car keys *in the car* in an effort to keep them away from her. Ever my best friend, my little sis then attempted to help me get them out without telling mom and dad. Her surefire technique? Using a stick from the ground to jam into the car lock, as if the twig would work just like a key. You can imagine how thrilled my parents were when we confessed that not only were the keys locked in the car at camp, but we had also broken a stick off inside the lock.

Thankfully, the guy camping next door was a self-proclaimed ex-convict and knew how to break into cars. I learned some serious life skills on that camping trip to Yellowstone!

National Parks

Trekking my way up from the Colorado River after a questionable decision in Canyonlands National Park

As an adult, my national park memories only grow fonder. I returned to the Grand Canyon in college with a bunch of my guy friends. Clueless as to what we were getting into, the five of us decided to hike the rim-to-river on a rather warm day. We all survived….but barely. One guy quit halfway down and fell asleep on a rock, only to wake up completely sunburned two hours later. Another gassed out on the return hike and I had to carry his backpack while feeding him water from my own. We all crawled up to the trailhead, bedraggled and exhausted, but ultimately victorious. I’m convinced this sufferfest led to future fun of the Type II caliber.

Perhaps my favorite national park memories happened last year when Will surprised me with the ultimate Christmas gift: a month-long February road trip throughout the western United States. One of our first stops was Zion National Park in Utah. I’d never been and Will decided I needed to see it in style. We rented drysuits and neoprene booties before descending upon The Narrows, the classic Zion hike. Most people undertake this trek in the summer when the water is warm, but trust me: if you do it in the winter, the utter solitude and scenery will far outweigh the chilly toes! Frozen waterfalls caked the canyon walls and delicate snowflakes danced across the surface of the moving water. {For more: Winter Trek of The Narrows in Zion}.

National Parks

National Parks

The beauty of The Narrows in the winter

From there, we zipped up to Yosemite for some winter camping, and then over to the Redwood National Park. The scenery changed from sandy red canyons to shimmery gray granite and on to lush, green moss.

National Parks

Car camping at Redwood National Park

We are fortunate to live in a country that has world-class public lands that make for premiere outdoor playgrounds. We travel so far and fly so many miles to see the world’s best, but I’d argue that our natural wonders are second to none. I hope I never forget that.

National Parks

The Grand Canyon

If You Want to Support the National Park Service:

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6 Comments

  • Reply Sarah January 26, 2017 at 7:21 am

    The national park system is something we should all be proud of and try to support. Not only do they protect our natural treasures but also historic landmarks which teach current and future generations about the good and bad of our country’s history.
    In addition to the links you shared another wonderful source of information about the parks is the National Parks Conservation Association. It’s a great way to find out about lesser know NPS sites as well as how to support legislation to protect them.

  • Reply Eric January 26, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    This is a fantastic post. Thanks, Heather! I’d also offer a strong recommendation for the Ken Burns documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”. It’s easy to take our National Parks for granted, but Burns’ film shows how they were something of a radical idea in the first place, and how they’ve always been under threat from commercial and political pressures.

    http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/

  • Reply Jessie @ Chasing Belle January 26, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you for posting this! It’s so important to support our National Parks – now more than ever!

  • Reply Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog January 27, 2017 at 6:57 am

    I have so many great memories of National Parks. I want them to be there for my children to enjoy too, and their children after that.

  • Reply Janice January 30, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Heather – Beautiful photos, and a very resonant message. I want to do everything I can to preserve the beauty of the National Parks, and make sure that they do not slip through the loopholes of oil and gas drilling. The current administration makes me wonder if this can hold, but I will stand up to protect them, too.

  • Reply shalla March 14, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    These are the most amazing photos…I just experienced Colorado National Parks when I visited this past summer. As a girl on the upper east coast, I am so jealous of your world in Colorado. Ours in NH are too…but Colorado is just incredible. My numbers 1+2 bucket list locations are Yellowstone and Glacier National Park…but the kids adventures to Disney have gotten in the way. I hope to make this the year we travel to one of these beautiful parks together.

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