I’ll never forget the first time I saw Yosemite Valley. Nadim and I drove from San Francisco, through a winding, uphill forest road, passed the park entrance, through a tunnel, and there it was. When we parked the car and stood out at the viewing point, I felt like I had left the planet earth I had known all my life (for twenty-three years) and arrived to a completely different planet. It was incredible to me that this all existed alongside our busy cities and house-filled suburbs, highways and urban parks. This wild land, protected for generations, is one of the greatest things about America.
Today is Earth Day, and it’s also the tail end of National Park week. I thought it would be the perfect time to write a post about visiting the national parks as a key contributor to work-life balance.
Beyond how important our connection with nature is, it’s an issue of perspective. We need to remember our size (& age) relative to places like Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, and things like the Big Trees in California, Oregon and Washington.
This goes back to the importance of planning weekend getaways, but it’s beyond that. It’s planning wild nature getaways. (Keyword = wild). Most of us can’t always make it out to a national park on a weekly basis, but there are so many of them across all the states, that we can challenge ourselves to go to one once a season, or at least twice a year.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~John Muir
My bucket list is to go to all of the national parks in the United States of America. However, in 2015 I failed to plan a single trip. And I live in California! (California ties with Alaska for being the states with the most national parks, 8) All it would have taken is a little bit of forethought, planning and a two-hour drive. The same rings true for when I was a student in Boston and was so caught up in my life there that I didn’t take the time to plan trips to Acadia National Park. Or when I lived in Manhattan and missed out on all the beauty in upstate New York. Looking back, it wasn’t an issue of time– because we always seem to find time for what’s important. It was an issue of making it a priority.
On this website, you can find all the national parks in your area based on state. Here’s a list of all the parks in the U.S. And I’ve always thought National Geographic does an excellent job with writing, photography, travel itineraries, history and more.
With so many wonders driving-distance to where most of us live, be it national parks here in the U.S., or other places around the world, we are missing out on a key component of life if we don’t explore them.
And preserve them. That is today’s theme after all.
So on that note, Happy Earth Day!
What’s your favorite national park?
Photos taken November 2011.