Image Credits: Courtesy of the author

The National Parks in the United States are some of the most beautiful places you will ever get to visit in your lifetime. There are a total of 59 parks throughout the country, each offering a unique experience for those who visit. From the seaside cliffs of Acadia in Maine, sand dunes in Colorado, wetlands of the Florida Everglades, and snow-covered mountains of Denali in Alaska, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Last year, I went on a road trip where I visited six parks throughout Wyoming and Utah. On my journey, I saw the wonders of Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion and on a later trip, the Great Smoky Mountains. I can easily say that visiting these parks was life-changing. Having the opportunity to explore these amazing places is one thing I will always cherish, and is something that every person should get to experience.  

Here’s why everyone needs to go to a National Park:

  1. You’ll learn something new

There are countless opportunities to learn about the geography, wildlife, and history of the parks you visit.  The park rangers are extremely friendly and love sharing their knowledge with travelers as they pass through. Many of the parks offer guided, informational tours that will take you to the best parts of the park.  You will also have the chance to discover things you have never seen before, and examine them in their natural environments. Many of the parks have a rich history that will take you back in time and teach you about early American life.  In Smoky Mountain National Park, history dates back from the Paleo Indians to early European settlers.  When visiting the park, you can explore early churches, farmhouses, and get a taste of Appalachian culture from the past and present.

  1. The wildlife

National Parks are perhaps the best place you could go to see wild animals you don’t get to see in your backyard.  Yellowstone itself has the largest concentration of mammals in the continental United States.  There you will see wolves, bison, black, and grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and maybe even a moose if you’re lucky!  Another great place to observe wildlife above and underwater is Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.  There you will get the chance to see sea turtles, coral reefs, sharks, squid, and nearly 300 species of birds.  

  1. You will be inspired

The power of the natural beauty of the parks will motivate you to be the best you can be.  The park will pluck you out of the crazy reality of your life and place you into a world completely different from your own.  It is so easy to get caught up in everything life throws at us that we forget to take a step back and relax and think about ourselves.  The vastness of the landscapes before you will show you that the possibilities are endless. They will inspire you to have bigger goals and aim high.  After visiting you will want to travel the world and discover new things. Your need for adventure will be through the roof.

  1. You will be humbled

When you step foot into a national park, you will immediately feel small.  These places have essentially gone untouched by human development for centuries and remain unchanged.  They will take you back in time and make you realize that there is so much out there for you to discover.  The beauty of these places will take your breath away and leave you asking “Is this place real?”

  1. You’ll be proud to be an American

We are lucky enough to have some of the most beautiful places in the world in our own country.  The national parks reflect the resiliency of our nation. Just as the parks have withstood time and development, the United States has time and time again proven its strength in the face of conflict.  Walter Stegner, a novelist and environmentalist, said it best himself:

“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

Rebecca K
CONTRIBUTOR