|Grand Canyon National Park|
Whether you’re a local or enjoy visiting the United States, some of the most recommended places to see are the country’s 62 national parks. These sites have unique features or ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and natural beauty that attract people from all over the world. As summer approaches, national parks will be busier than ever.
Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Now there are more than 400 separate areas designated as national parks, forests, seashores, preserves, monuments, recreation areas, lakeshores, parkways, scenic trails, battlefields, and historical sites.
|Old Faithful in Yellowstone|
Conservation as a guiding principle
The US National Park Service was created in 1916 to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
That mission is still the driving force behind conservation efforts and decisions regarding our national parks. If you’ve ever visited one of these outstanding places, you probably shared your experience with others, maybe even recommending that they also take a trip there. With Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites so popular for sharing images and experiences, the parks have become increasingly popular destinations, resulting in many more people than some of the parks can reasonably handle.
It’s a paradox that the parks often depend on tourism for their maintenance, which also keeps people intrigued and wanting to visit. Yet preservation of nature and wildlife depends on minimal interruption.
Is there a solution?
|Taft Point in Yosemite NP|
|Check for reservations on Going|
to the Sun Road, Glacier NP
Zion National Park, Arches NP, Rocky Mountain NP, and others either have or may start limiting the number of people who can visit each day. Visitors may have to sign up for a certain time slot in which they are allowed to enter the park, obtain a parking space in advance, hike on a specific trail, or book a seat on the park’s shuttle bus.
While these requirements may be viewed as restrictive, it’s imperative to find a balance between visitor numbers and park preservation. If that means your visit requires preplanning for a parking spot or getting on a shuttle, then realize that action is necessary to ensure continued enjoyment of scenery, wildlife, and activities for all.
|Timed reservations are needed to visit Arches NP|
As visitors, we should appreciate that responsible behavior (including keeping the park clean and exercising civil behavior) is the only way to keep these places available and as wonderful and magical as they truly are.
Information courtesy of Amanda Crowe, Consultant | Researcher, Digital Content & Mediaamandacrowe.consulting@
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier