Nature Experience #14 – Kids and National Parks

The United States has an amazing system of National Parks! These special places offer an opportunity to visit unspoiled nature – to camp, hike, boat or just enjoy nature’s majesty! I’m a big fan of National Parks – a legacy that was begun by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 with Yellowstone National Park. President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park System into being in 1916, and a long legacy of preservation and conservation began. Most individual states also feature incredible state parks; I’ve been visiting some of the Oklahoma State parks in my Friday blogs, and will continue to do so for the next two weeks. But today, let’s think about National Parks.

I’m curious about which National Parks you’ve visited, and which one was/is your favorite. So make a comment at the bottom of this post, or send me an email.
 
Why this post on this day? Because, this coming Sunday, May 19, is the Second Annual Kids to Parks Day!  For information about this event, go to one of the following websites: www.kidstoparks.org; or www.parktrust.org/index.

Here’s what the National Park Trust website says about this special day:

“The 2nd Annual National Kids to Parks Day is on May 19, 2012.  NPT created National Kids to Parks Day to empower kids to discover and enjoy parks in their community. Our goal is to inspire healthy outdoor recreation and to cultivate our future park stewards.

In our first year on May 21, 2011, nearly 200 mayors coast to coast signed official proclamations and many hosted events in their community parks to celebrate the day. In addition, more than 15,300 families participated. This year promises to be an even bigger event!


National Kids to Parks Day is officially in support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move Outside! initiative.”
 
I was blessed with parents who loved to travel and had a great curiosity about the natural world, and particularly areas which had been set aside as national parks. Practically from the time I could walk, we were on two-week marathon vacations, driving thru state after state and visiting many national parks. Although I don’t remember many of those I visited as a child, I have continued the family tradition by taking my children to visit National Parks around the country. I plan to repeat the experiences with my grandchildren!

So – here’s my current list of the National Parks I’ve visited. Send me an email, at writer@mcoley.com with your list, or your comments about this blog post. You can also post your list and comments as a comment at the bottom of this post so that others may read it as well. The more the better! (I’ve listed my parks by state, and alphabetically. Hope you will, too.)

Arizona – Grand Canyon (awesome! Take the mule ride!); Petrified Forest (hmmmm)
Arkansas – Hot Springs (historical and fun – take a bath!)
California – Redwoods (wow – these are some big, old trees); Yosemite (magnificent valley)
Colorado – Mesa Verde (loved these old apartments); Rocky Mountains (gorgeous views)
New Mexico – Carlsbad Caverns (scary and awesome all at once)
South Dakota – Badlands (the name says it – who’d want to hang around here very long?)
Utah – Bryce Canyon (wow – Amazing rock formations!); Zion (it’s truly like heaven)
Wyoming – Grand Teton (these are some steep peaks!); Yellowstone (scenery, hiking, geysers, bears, elk, snow, waterfalls — the list goes on)

All of the above places are beautiful. Don’t allot only one day to any of them. Stay awhile and experience them as they were meant to be experienced. Sit and think. Listen. Watch the clouds or the sun on the water. Dream, and understand why these places are worthy of national park status, and what it requires to keep them pristine and beautiful in spite of millions of visitors every year!

And finally – go visit one this year, with or without the children in your life. You’ll be so glad that you did!

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