In 1872, congress first established Yellowstone, Montana, as what is now coined the first National Park. Created for the enjoyment of its people, the individual program soon sparked a ‘revolution’ of National Parks, and today, 63 parks claim the title.
Dedicating all my love to the outdoors, I, like many others with this passion, am hypnotized by the diversity of America’s National Parks. Almost no country has tundras, rainforests, and deserts in one landscape. I think we take for granted all of the natural beauty our country has to offer. So, what other resource would I lean into, besides the National Parks Service that preserves these places? I’ve made it my mission to explore all of the National Parks before I grow old. With this, there are a certain few where I will not allow myself peace until I see them, here they are listed below:
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion is covered in tall Red Rocks and known for its many enticing canyons. Coincidentally, all of my favorite musicians are from this region, so going to this park is obviously meant for me. Nothing is more relaxing than falling into a crisp body of water at the end of a hike. While some may find this experience exhausting, Zion has a unique trail, The Narrows, that runs through a knee-deep river tucked inside Zion Canyon. The trek is enclosed by a 1,000 ft gorge and besides the cold feet, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful trails of Zion. For this hike alone I would die to see Zion, not to mention the emerald-colored pools and waterfalls the canyons lead to.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
I will forever hold a grudge against my mom when she didn’t let us see this park on our vacation to the Pacific Northwest. Nestled on the border of Canada, North Cascades is consumed by equally ice-topped and lush-covered mountains. The beauty of its mountains expands to the gorgeous Lake Diablo beneath, with a blue tint sharp enough to pierce through the skin. I was stunned to figure out North Cascades is one of the least visited parks, only attracting 30,000 visitors a year. This hidden gem of a National Park is wild in its biodiversity and deserves just as much attention as places like Yosemite National Park. Also as a bonus, North Cascades has substantial amounts of Douglas-firs near its lower altitudes (my favorite trees!)
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
I could probably put any of the Alaskan National Parks on this list but I think this one stands out to me most. Katmai National Park is also known for its low levels of visitors, sitting around 18,000 people a year. The prime reason for this is it is only accessible by boat or plane but in my opinion that just adds to the experience! Katmai has a surplus of bears, best seen wading in Brooks Falls. Thankfully, the park offers designated peaks far enough away to cause any panic about the grizzlies. Until I go there I can at least live vicariously through the webcams set up at the viewing area.
Yosemite National Park, California
A classic for any NPS enthusiast, it is actually a crime I haven’t been here yet. I could collapse on the spot if given the opportunity to camp under the stars of Yosemite. Viewing the colossal sequoias of California is near the top of my bucket list, and what better way to fill it than Yosemite? I am pretty sure I have the scene of Yosemite Falls permanently ingrained in my mind and I’ll forever dream about swimming at the base of it. Gazing at the perfectly carved reflection of its waters is a sight I could only reserve as the greatest work of art.
I like to think back to the conversation I had with an NPS worker at Grand Canyon National Park. We talked without end about his career of working seasonal jobs and all of his experiences in the mountains. Before that, I had a sneaking suspicion I wanted to spend my early adult years traversing through nature, but by the time I left him, I had my mind set on living in our National Parks.
Hearing about the endless hikes, midnight campfires, and blossoming friendships cemented my idea of working in the Parks. I never got the man’s name, though I still give him my thanks for lighting this passion. The National Parks are truly the most authentic and stunning parts of America.
Hello! I'm Abby Geers and this is my first year as a 42fifty reporter and I am a sophomore at OHS. I enjoy reading, my plants, spending time with my cats, and hanging out with friends. I'm really excited to write this year!