Founded in 1916, the U.S. National Park System is one of the largest in the world representing monuments, natural, historical and recreational areas. The purpose is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.
Despite regular tourism, the park system had seen a decline in visitors in the 2000’s until the pandemic brought people in droves to safely vacation and experience some of the most incredible things America has to offer. This brought about the resurgence of the Great American Road Trip and growth of the “national park bucket list”.
If you want to appreciate Mother Earth and motivate the whole family to reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably and responsibly, there are no better places than our nation’s park system. If that isn’t reason enough, here are more:
1. 423. That is the number of park sites in the U.S. The National Park System. They span across more than 84 million acres, with parks in each state and extending into the territories, including parks in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Every state has at least one national park, and you can easily road trip throughout the year to enjoy several of them. There is literally something for everyone.
2. The Experience. You can never truly appreciate the Earth until you spend some time outdoors. There aren’t many places where you can safely encounter wildlife and learn something at the same time. The sheer number of different experiences that the parks have to offer is mind blowing, making the system truly one of our country’s most valuable.
3. Expand Your Mind. One of the purposes of the national parks is to educate Americans on everything from flowers to historical figures. You can read about them, but you won’t get quite the same feeling of amazement until you’re actually there. There are valuable lessons and education to be had at every park. Your kids will go back to school and tell everyone about what they learned.
4. Get Out of The Car. It’s not enough to just drive to a park and then drive around the park. You need to get out of the car. Strap on your backpack – filled with provisions – and take a hike. Not only that, children, who’ve been couped up in the car, will be thrilled to jump out and see the world around them. They will create memories and stories for a lifetime.
5. Accommodations for Everyone. Whether you’re a glamper or a hard core, back country camper, you will find a variety of accommodations available for everyone. From luxurious lodges, rustic ranches and comfortable motels and hotels to beautiful back country trails with campgrounds set aside for campers and long-haul hikers they experience is how you want it. Warning: Back country hiking and camping require experience, so it’s a good excuse to invite your hiking buddy along.
6. See the Impact of Humans on the Environment. Located in very rural areas and in the middle of wilderness, the national parks do their part to teach visitors about how we impact the environment from the importance of throwing away trash and stowing food away from wildlife to composting bathroom waste and encouraging slower speeds to reduce carbon monoxide pollution. There is no better way to understand why we should all be concerned about our impact – individually and collectively – on the environment.
7. Check Out. While it’s frustrating for some, a lot of national parks, and the areas around them, do not offer internet service. Sometimes it’s difficult to get radio reception. Take the time to play car games and to simply turn off and tune out. Absorb the world around you. Smell the clean air. Get back to basics of a simple life. Appreciate all of the beautiful and incredible things the Earth has to offer. When you go home you will be more motivated to protect it by living more sustainably.