It’s amazing to me that I can remember so much from such a brief visit to a National Park. I was thinking back to my first trip to Death Valley National Park today and I can remember it all like we drove through yesterday. I remember the Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater Basin, and Stovepipe Wells. I remember hugging my first redwood just days prior up in Redwood National Park. A year later, I was camping in Arches National Park after an edge-of-your-seat drive through a blizzard in the Rockies on the way there. I remember the trails we hiked to go see the various arches and landscape views as well as the campsite and the view from the tent. I remember it being something like 11 degrees and very windy with some icy spots on the trails – and a funny sign warning of falling on ice. I remember the BLM land on the Loneliest Road in America – US 50 – and the campsite there with snow. We pitched the tent, dug a trench to divert any melting snow, and made a fire. That night, the sky was so clear and full of stars. You could see US 50 for miles, and in that one night I only remember seeing two cars in the distance.
I remember something from each visit to Redwood National Park and I remember our brief drive through Olympic National Park. I remember the moss growing on the old wood – making everything pop with green. I can’t recall a more worthwhile hike than the one Delicate Arch, despite not really knowing much about where we were going. I can still picture Bryce Canyon, covered in snow, from Inspiration Point. The hoodoos poking through massive snow drifts below is a sight forever burned into my brain. Snow melting, muddy trails, and the spray of waterfalls in Zion in the early spring only make me want to return.
I could go on, and on, about things I remember without even a picture to trigger it. I have so many memories from trips to National Parks. I’ve experienced visits as brief as a drive through with stops at scenic lookouts to camping overnight. The experience doesn’t matter, as long as it happens. If we get people that may not be able to or people that don’t really know too much about the parks to the parks, they may have these little memories to hold on to and may be more inclined to help preserve them. If people can develop memories or find meaning in these places, they may be more willing to join the fight to fund, protect, and expand them. We must continue to fight to get EVERYONE out to the parks. We must continue to fight the current administration and their desire to shrink, drill in, and/or eliminate these places. Together, through collective thoughts and actions we can make these parks accessible to all people and create new ones for the future while securing proper funding. I believe it is possible, do you?