Most people who visit national parks — ourselves often included — go pretty quickly from one area to the next without slowing down. There’s lots to see in most national parks, and folks may have only a few days to explore it all. But focusing on one part of a park can be a nice (and relaxing!) alternative to checking off all of the must-see sights.
When we visited Rocky Mountain National Park in June, we did a lot of flitting about on our first day, doing short hikes and taking quick looks at several spots. We had fun, and saw many different pieces of the park. But on our second day, we spent almost two hours just sitting in one spot in the park: the Beaver Ponds. This is a lovely little space, once inhabited by beavers who dammed up the area, creating a little wetland. The park service built a boardwalk out into the wetland (we’re suckers for boardwalks) with a nice seating area.
Sitting quietly allowed us to see the park in a different way. We settled down and really listened to the stream quietly burbling past. We noticed the different stages of the wildflowers blooming. We had time to really listen to where the birds were in order to find them. We saw all the different colors of green from the grasses to the aspens to the pines, and heard the wind rustling through them. We marveled at the mountains, wondering why they look so enormous with the naked eye but seem much smaller in photos. And while we sat, mostly in solitude, lots of other groups of folks came and went.
We chose to sit and soak in one small part of the park rather than hike through another, and really loved it. We know that we missed out on some spectacular scenery elsewhere, but felt like we really saw that part of the park in action — and, finally, that elusive Wilson’s Warbler that we’d caught just a glimpse of the day before!
Where have you slowed down the pace of a trip to really absorb the place you’ve traveled to see? Leave us a note in the comments. And enjoy your next travel adventure, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!
What an important lesson to learn about travelling.
We think so! We’ve come a long way in our travel philosophy: no more five-European-capital-cities-in-five-days itineraries. 🙂