A few years ago the National Parks Conservation Association had a photo/essay contest called “National Parks, America’s Best Idea.” Erin won with the following essay and photo (taken in Joshua Tree National Park).
America has always been the land of opportunity, and national parks are full of opportunity. They provide the opportunity for people to access wild and scenic areas. The proponents of national parks saw what happened at Niagara Falls, and knew that was not a model for the future of our wild, scenic country. They fought to ensure access to our land’s beauty for everyone. This was definitely a “best idea.”
National parks provide the opportunity for people to discover the tranquility and wisdom of nature. For many, life is a hurried business. Time spent in the national parks, away from the busy hubbub of daily life, gives people time to relax and be refreshed. The parks provide the opportunity to clear our minds of distractions and worries and focus inward.
National parks provide the opportunity for families to spend time together in the outdoors, fostering relationships with both nature and one another. Many families spend too little time together, and the parks provide a marvelous playground where they can grow, explore and discover together.
And lest we think our national parks only provide opportunities to the American people, we must remember that they also provide the opportunity for wildlife to live and flourish in safe, well-maintained, and pristine habitats. Were it not for national parks, much of the habitat necessary for wildlife would surely have disappeared by now.
National parks, America’s best idea, are a shining example of how America really is the land of opportunity.
Do you have a favorite National Park? Let us know in the comments or Tweet us @aweekoraweekend. We’d love to hear from you!