This week marks the 100th Birthday of our National Park Service. Living an equal – and short – distance between two of America’s most iconic National Parks, we are constantly aware of both the importance of our National Parks, and the struggles they face in the future.
My family has enjoyed a dozen Parks – or lands administered by the National Park Service – in the past year. All for the incredibly reasonable $80 price for an annual family pass. We purchased the pass at the Mammoth entrance to Yellowstone Park last spring, and I drove through that same gate almost exactly 1 year later. They are among our most memorable family experiences, and none were a disappointment. Some new ones exceeded our expectations.
We explored volcanoes, remote backcountry and watched wildlife with no fear of man. We hiked trails jammed with tourists in street shoes, and found pockets of silence on others. We’ve seen some of the greatest geologic wonders in the country, and viewed vistas of unspoiled landscapes remarkable both in appearance, and because they still exist. We learned to rock climb, and even caught a fish or two along the way.
Montanan’s are notorious for ridiculing the hoards of tourists that descend on Yellowstone and Glacier Parks each year, but you can find most of us doing the same at least once each summer. Yes the tour buses, gift shops and kooky entrance towns can trigger fits of road-rage and test anyones patience, but what’s beyond the gates and lines is usually worth the effort.
The recent popularity of our National Parks has become a hot topic among advocates of wilderness (Are We Loving Our National Parks To Death?), and some conservative Western Politicians are trying to “take back” federal lands, including the Parks. It’s a birthday party, so we’ll refrain from voicing our opinions on these topics today. Those who enjoy our park system should read up and get involved. And as we celebrate 100 years of what Wallace Stegner called “the best idea we ever had”, read up on the history of the National Park Service and Antiquities Act. Pretty interesting stuff.
“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” – Wallace Stegner
Congratulations to the National Park Service on 100 years of providing unique, memorable and truly American experiences. Trips to the Parks have been an important part of my life since my first trips to Mt. Rainier and Yellowstone as a child. I hope that they are playing an important part of my daughters life as I get to experience them again with her. We hope that Headhunters Nation supports our Parks large and small. Go visit one every chance you get!
Here’s a few images from the last year…