If there is one physical thing that has helped me (and I believe millions) weather the storm of this pandemic, it is time in nature. Go to a park! Consider the words of Sierra’s Founder:
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”—John Muir
Nature’s Healing Balm
Since March, I have written multiple articles and recorded dozens of Instagram videos to document nature’s healing balm for a heavy heart and frightened spirit. So it is with great excitement that I wish Happy Birthday to the National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service.
“The parks do not belong to one state or to one section…. The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.”—Stephen T. Mather (NPS Director, 1917-1929)
Go To A Park
And I know this birthday is special to legions of Americans as the NPS reports there are 39,687,383 visitors to National Parks. Did you know the NPS system comprises more than 400 areas covering more than 84 million acres in 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands? Creating a national park system was smart!
“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”—Wallace Stegner
But the only reason that I know this big day occurs on Tuesday is that I support the National Parks Conservation Association. I send them an annual donation. In return, I receive their annual calendar. It resides on my refrigerator. As a result, I can enjoy spectacular photos of NPS sites, such as Joshua Tree National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Big Bend National Park. It also reminds me to go to a park.
104 Years Old
I celebrated this agency’s longevity (104 years old) by taking an extra long walk in the nation’s capital. I can’t imagine my life in Washington DC if I did not regularly go to a park. Washington DC is home to many favorite NPS sites. For example, I regularly visit The National Mall, the Memorial Parks, Rock Creek Park and Theodore Roosevelt Island. Nor will I ever forget my vacations in multiple national parks. I have visited the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Conserves the Scenery
I am proud that I live in a country which recognizes that everyone deserves places to go that replenishes their spirit. Our national parks “conserves the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life.” And most importantly, they leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” It’s so critical for young and old to go to a park.
“A visit inspires love of country; begets contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the antidote for national restlessness…. He is a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the national parks.”—Stephen T. Mather
Happy 104th Birthday, NPS! My scrapbooks are filled with photos of treasured time spent hiking in national parks and visiting national monuments.
The NPS also allows travelers to enjoy the parks virtually. The NPS App is free to download on iTunes or Google Play stores. If you are stuck at home, NPS urges folks to take a virtual vacation by emploring its custom TripBucket Virtual & Highlights Tour.
“Park enthusiasts can also experience the best the NPS has to offer from home with virtual tours, exploring Hawaiian lava tubes and coral reefs off the Florida Keys from the comfort of your own living room.” (Travel & Leisure)
From my family (above) to yours, remember to celebrate the National Park Services’ birthday. Our lives are enriched by the United States’ dedication of national parks and wild life for all Americans. It is the best idea we ever had.
“There is nothing so American as our national parks…. The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”—Franklin Delano Roosevelt