Why You Should Visit U.S. National Parks

It seemed like a miracle, but finally I had reached the top.  Looking out around me, I was in complete awe of the towering cliffs and the canyon open before me.  My feet were tired, but it didn’t seem to matter as I stared at the beautiful red rocks surrounding me.  I had just finished climbing and hiking Angel’s Landing, a trip I agreed to when my roommates from the Utah Shakespeare Festival asked to join them and a few friends in Zion National Park.  At first I was eager and up for any adventure, but little did I realize how out of shape I was and the difficulty of Angel’s Landing.  Holding onto chains and climbing the rough rocks after hiking numerous switchbacks, I wondered if there would ever be an end.  Luckily, I didn’t give up and even after I lost my toenail, I still continued to visit U.S. National Parks.  But my journey to visit U.S. National Parks didn’t begin at Angels Landing.  For years I had been visiting National Parks including Grand Canyon, Colorado National Monument, and dozens of historic sites on the east coast.  Although some of this enthusiasm came from desire to see all of the sites in my Passport book, it has become even more of a priority because of the recent 100 year celebration of the National Park Service.  In honor of this centennial, I’m sharing a few insights and reasons about why you should visit National Parks:

  1. See what conservation and preservation has done for the country over the years. In high school when the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established by President Bill Clinton, many of my fellow Utah classmates rejected the idea because they supported the land’s previous purpose for coal mining and resented the Antiquities Act of 1906.  We were asked to write letters to the president in class, and I quickly realized I was the only person who supported the decision.  The teacher immediately asked my opinion and I felt my tongue tie itself in knots, realizing I was the only one who felt it would be beneficial for generations to come.  Although there was contention 10 years later between environmentalists and locals as cited in a New West article, there are still some facts about National Parks that illustrate the long-term financial impacts on Kane and Garfield counties with 91% of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument visitors stopping in these counties and spending $20.6 million at 21 different kinds of businesses.  While the road to long-term sustainable economic development from tourism takes time, as the Washington Monthly illustrates, National Parks provide more potential for long-term employment and financial stability than activities like coal mining.  This article also points out that in 2011, the National Parks Service found that spending from visitors supported 251,600 jobs, $30.1 billion in sales, $9.34 billion in labor, and $16.5 billion in value.  Whether or not you agree with the Antiquities Act or President Clinton’s decision, there are beneficial results to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument beyond environmental conservation.

  2. Learn lessons about American history and hopefully learn from the mistakes that were made. When it comes to visiting a National Park or Monument, I always feel as though I’m being given the opportunity to experience America’s past.  I saw where pioneers foraged a new path in Nebraska, but I also saw where America’s Cold War fear resided at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site that left me unsettled, and I wondered if an agreement could be reached when it came to treatment of the Native Americans at Devil’s Tower.  From the mistakes we’ve made I can only hope more Americans realize how we can learn from them in the future with compromises and respect.  I’m beginning to think more politicians need to visit National Parks.

  3. Remember what makes America great. When it comes to talking about America’s success, it’s often described with financial accomplishments or showcased with bright lights and towering skyscrapers.  What we often forget is what makes America great is its natural landscapes and wildlife.  I haven’t traveled extensively as others, but I haven’t seen red rock canyons like I have at Zion National Park and I have yet to see a mix of grassland and desert outside of Badlands National Park.  There may be similar places in the world, but nothing so far has compared.  When it comes to visitors from other countries planning a trip to America I don’t suggest New York, Miami, L.A. or Las Vegas, I suggest Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park, that’s where the real America is.

Although I was ill-prepared for my journey to reach the peak of Angel’s Landing, there is no way I could have been prepared for my view at the top.  It turned out the strenuous journey was definitely worth the end and it inspired me to keep going.  I sometimes feel as though I relate to my home country with appreciation, but always with a sense of confusion at some of our actions and decisions.  It wasn’t until I continued my journeys to National Parks that I felt a sense of something different: admiration.

My Goals for National Park Visits in 2016:

Arches National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Channel Islands National Park

Olympic National Park

Additional National Park Resources

National Park Service

Share the Experience

Find Your Park

Why do you think it’s important to visit National Parks?  What National Parks in the U.S. and in the world are your favorites?

This post is a part of Travel Tuesday hosted by Lauren on LocationTravel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox, and Weekend Wanderlust hosted by A Brit and A Southerner, A Southern Gypsy, Casual Travelers, Justin Plus Lauren, and Outbound Adventurer.

Budget Travelers Sandbox

Travel TuesdayWeekend Wanderlust

37 Comments

  1. ee0926

    This is something I would love to do! I have only been to Zion, and it was so beautiful!!
    Great post!

    xx, Elise
    http://www.sparkleandslippers.blogspot.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Elise! I hope you get the opportunity this year to see more National Parks. I’m glad you enjoyed Zion too!

  2. genie

    Thank you for your visit to my blog today. It is always so nice to meet new photographers. We, too, have our Passports and take great pleasure each time we get to add a new stamp. These photos make me want to go west even more. Buddy is trying to plan an REI trip to hike from one end to the other of the Grand Canyon. I am all for it, and I hope he makes it.L Loved seeing your pictures, but that last one of Angels Landing is out of this world . Happy travels. Please come back and see me.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thank you for visiting my blog as well! I loved your paintings and postcards and look forward to reading more about your projects. My family also wanted to plan a Grand Canyon trip too, perhaps the same one you’ve mentioned. They have to make reservations a year in advance, though, so it’s quite complicated. I’m glad you enjoyed my photos and thank you for visiting!

  3. Miss Malaprop

    I sooooo want to do a tour of the National Parks out west. My boyfriend and I did a 1,600 mile motorcycle trip through Nevada and California in 2006 but we didn’t have time to really stop and explore Yosemite and I wish we could have.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you get the chance to go back and explore the National Parks in the west! Even though I live here I feel like I’m constantly missing some that I need to visit.

  4. Joanna

    If I ever make it to the US (I hope I will one day), I have a few national parks on my bucket list (mental bucket list, but it is being discussed :)). I have a goal of visiting all the national parks in my country as well 🙂

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’d love to read about your adventures exploring national parks in your country as well. I find no matter where I go, I love to visit National Parks in any country. There are so many fascinating landscapes and scenery around the world!

  5. Tara | The Mix

    I really need to do more traveling and see some of these places, they look gorgeous!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Tara! I hope you get the opportunity to make a visit to one of these great parks this year!

  6. laurenonlocation

    Love this post! I just got to visit a few US parks for the first time this past fall and was completely amazed! I couldn’t believe some of them! My favorites were Bryce and the great sand dunes! Amazing. I really wanted to make it to Arches, but it was a little bit out of our way! I’ll have to live it through you for now 😀

    • brooklyntvlasich

      That’s fantastic you got to see Bryce! I still have yet to see the Great Sand Dunes and forgot to put them on my list, so thank you for reminding me about them!

  7. AndreaOnVacation

    I just bought my annual park pass last weekend at Antietam National Battlefield. I will be going to a lot of National Parks this year! My favorite is Arches.

  8. travelnwrite

    Thanks for stopping by TravelnWrite – it was fun reading your Cairo and China smog comparisons. You are correct about our National Parks and so often I am guilty of taking them for granted; you’ve made me again realize that I shouldn’t!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for stopping and visiting my posts too! I hope you can visit some of these great parks!

  9. Shaunacey

    I live in Canada but would love to go do some travelling in the US and see the beautiful parks!

    Confessions of a Frumpy Mommy

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you get the chance to visit U.S. National Parks! I’d love to head back up to Canada and revisit Banff and Jasper. You’ve got some great parks too!

  10. Alice

    These shots are breathtaking! Would love to visit!
    Fashion Soup

  11. Annessa

    Gorgeous photos – I so need to make it to a few of the national parks – I’ve only been to Glacier. Utah looks so stunning – must add to my bucket list!

    Annessa
    http://www.seekingsunshine.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you get the opportunity to see more parks this year. Glacier is very impressive and I’m glad you got the chance to see it!

  12. thewordhermit

    Awesome post! I know a lot of people who don’t want the government taking land off the tax rolls, but I do think that long-term preservation is key. Anyway, my goals for this year are Grand Canyon and Acadia. Have fun.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Grand Canyon and Acadia sound like great options! I’m glad you agree with long-term preservation too.

  13. anotherlifemoment

    Its funny, Ive lived in Utah my entire life and I have never been to Zions! Ive been to many national parks out of state but never to Bryce or Zions. Hopefully that will change this Summer! I agree that people should definitely see the national parks, there are so many that are so beautiful!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m from Utah too, and I don’t remember seeing Arches or Canyonlands. It’s easy to forget to go and see places when you live there! I hope you get the chance to soon!

  14. budgettraveltalk

    Where would we be without National Parks. There seem to be so many impressive National Parks in the states. When we get there I hope to visit as many as we can fit in.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you can see plenty of National Parks too! Which ones would be at the top of your list?

  15. Ruth

    I think we all should think about visiting more National Parks or just being more in contact with nature. I read about one of the goals the National Park Service has for the celebration of the centennial and it gave me goosebumps (I went to Saguaro the last week of the year, so I read about the centennial there). They aim to shape the next generations of explorers and adventurers, the people who is going to take care of these great places in the future. This is not necessarily an easy task given how technology has taken such a big role on many people’s lives. I think we can contribute to that goal. Visiting the parks is a good beginning.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I loved everything you had to say about preservation and becoming the next generation of leaders for preservation! Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  16. We have been to quite a few US National Parks on our travels and always been impressed but without doubt the most impressive is Mesa Verde in Colorado. If you get a chance to go there I would highly recommend it.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I went to Mesa Verde as a little girl, but I’d love to retrace my steps and go back. I’m glad you’ve gotten the opportunity to see it and enjoyed it as well. What did you think of Colorado?

  17. RobRob @TravelLatte(.net)

    Yay you! Angel’s Landing is a pretty tough hike, if I remember right. But the reward is that view! Arches is stunning, too. I miss my younger days hiking around the Four Corners states – so much natural beauty there! Love your reasons for getting out to the National Parks – all good, but my favorite reason is the beauty of our great outdoors! #WeekendWanderlust

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for visiting and leaving such a wonderful comment! It’s impressive you’ve hiked around so much and experience so much great scenery.

  18. XX, Will Travel

    Great post! Definitely want to take advantage of the free entry for 2015 and then do the same for Canadian national parks in 2016!

  19. InsideJourneys

    The red rock canyons at Zion are impressive indeed. I’ll have to visit one of these days.
    Which of the ones you’ve seen so far is your favorite?

    • brooklyntvlasich

      That’s a tough one! I’ve been to so many as a little kid and would love to re-visit Washington D.C. now that there are more monuments and sites. Right now I’d have to say my favorite is Zion and I see many people are getting ready to head out this park this year! Do you have a favorite?

  20. malaysianmeanders

    This is a different take on the usual National Parks blog post, and I really like the insight you gained while visiting the parks. I was also really impressed by the Badlands. I was surprised to read that people opposed making Grand Staircase-Escalante into a national monument. I guess I’m squarely in the Conservation crowd. Olympic National Park is wonderful, and I really like the difference between the beaches, rainforest and mountains. I didn’t realize that the Channel Islands are a National Park. I’ve been to Santa Barbara so many times yet never taken a boat out there.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Wonderful to hear your insights about the National Parks! I’m excited to read about your experience in Olympic National Park, I’m ready to go now! I’m excited you support conservation and the idea behind these parks. I hope more people can come to that understanding as well.

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