It’s possible Don and I are National Park Service (NPS) junkies. We’ve spent a lot of time visiting national parks.
I used to think it was Don’s endearing Clark Griswold-ish dad qualities that landed us summer after summer in a national park. For example … after Scott’s college graduation in 2015, do you know what we did? A 4,320 mile road trip to visit six national parks. Not kidding. With a teenager and a Millennial in the car. I still remember the kids and me trying to persuade Don before leaving that maybe you’ve planned too much this time, dear. But Don persisted, and we did it, and we loved it. Since then I’ve taken several trips on my own (you can draw your own conclusions on that), and now I’ve grown to realize it’s not just Don who loves the parks. We both do.
So let’s take a look at a sampling of park offerings.
These photographs were taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. The Smokies are the most visited national park. Last fall wildfires swept through and claimed 14 lives and more than 26 square miles. The good news? The sites you see above were not affected and the park is still thriving. This is a great place to take your family.
These photographs were taken at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The NPS website describes White Sands as “like no place on earth.” I went with a photography group. The temperatures can be extreme and it’s easy to get lost. You can take your family, but if you’re going for photography, expect to hike pretty far in. People and animals leave footprints and trails everywhere.
If I had more time and/or a quicker system to retrieve archived photographs, I’d show you Arlington Cemetery or Ellis Island or the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to make the point that the NPS not only oversees parks with great natural beauty, but also man-made sites that honor and preserve America’s cultural heritage. You want to experience something so moving you’ll never forget? Visit Arlington Cemetery on a day when a horse-drawn carriage brings in a fallen soldier to rest. Oh the power of quiet, respect, dignity, and grace …
Well, with the NPS celebrating its 101st birthday this week, it’s a good time to review some quick fun facts:
- Did you know there’s a national park in every state?
- and if you’re aged 62 or over, the cost of the lifetime senior pass increases from $10 to $80 tomorrow?
- and 4th graders receive free admittance?
- and so do current members of the military and their dependents?
So many opportunities!
I hope you can visit one of the parks this year. I’ll be the first to admit that food and lodging can sometimes be challenging, but it’s only a temporary challenge. The memories you come home with will last a lifetime.
For more information, please visit https://www.nps.gov.