A new year is traditionally the time to reflect on the past, present and future which may include a list of our New Year’s resolutions. I know for myself, a recent member of the National Park Foundation team, that I am committed to visiting more national parks in the coming years. In 2014, I resolve to visit at least five national parks within driving distance of my home and also give back to my national parks whether it be through volunteering or sharing the national parks with someone who has never been.
Do your New Year’s resolutions include your national parks?
While I believe New Year’s resolutions are a great idea and help us grow, I also think our self-reflection can be spurred by other milestones as well, including birthdays. Recently one of my Facebook friends posted about the end of his 39th year where he listed his “Life List.” I was thrilled that #10 was “Visit all the national parks.” Wow! I was overjoyed that the national parks made it on his “bucket list”. While visiting all 401 of our national parks may not be feasible for most, committing ourselves to exploring at least one national park every year seems doable, and especially considering that most Americans live within 100 miles of a national park.
In reading my friend’s “Life List”, I started to think about his interest in the national parks as well as my own. Our national parks are very much part of our “American” lexicon and they serve so many amazing purposes. They provide us with places to explore, places to relax, places to learn, places to connect, places to experience history, places to volunteer, places to grow, places to cultivate community, and more. We are so lucky that people like Frederick Law Olmstead, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Stephen Mather, Horace Albright and Jimmy Carter had the passion, vision and commitment to our National Park System. But, we are even luckier that the tradition that was started almost 100 years ago continues today.
So as we enter this new year, I ask you to take a moment and think to yourself - is there one national park that you’ve always been interested in visiting or is there a park nearby that you’ve always been meaning to visit but haven’t yet? I encourage everyone to make it a point to visit and connect with their national parks. Whether it be one of your New Year’s resolutions, on your “Life List”, or just a simple promise to yourself, these more than 84 million acres of treasured lands are YOURS – so get out there and enjoy them. Find a park near you today!