A World Built from Dreams:
U.S. National Parks
From beautiful mountain sunrises, desert dunes, remarkable arches, strikingly colored pools of AMAZING the US National Park service has something to offer everyone. It is truly “A world built from dreams.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing so American as our National Parks… the fundamental idea behind the parks… is that the Country belongs to the people, that it is in the process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”
The national Parks were created under President Grant in 1872. Well Grant started with one, Yellowstone. He felt that our wild places should be preserved as they were so that future generations could enjoy the wilderness and outdoors as is. And I for one am glad he did. We can also thank Woodrow Wilson for actually signing an act that created The National Park Service in 1916. The people who take care of our wonderful wildlands and keep them pristine.
Waterfalls in The Smokey mountains park
As of today, there are 417 places protected by the National Park Service and its legislature. Not just parks though. Areas include national heritage sites, monuments, rivers, mountains, and geological phenomena not found anywhere else in the world.
One of the places you might not have thought of as being a national park is Alcatraz Island. That’s right, the old inescapable prison is now a protected US National Park.
Where to start
The National Parks have something for everyone. Whether it’s steep canyon walls and rock climbing, fly fishing in a scenic river, beautiful sunsets on desert sand dunes, picturesque sunrises over mountains, or gentle breezes rolling through grassy plains, there is a park for everyone.
It would be amazing to see them all but if you don’t have that kind of time, pick the one that tingles your brain with excitement. With the most excitement and start there.
Or you could pick a state and road trip through all the parks and sites there.
Need a more practical approach to seeing the wonder. There are parks in every state in the US and covers over 85 million acres. You might not even know there is something breathtaking just a few miles from your door.
Now would be the time to start looking at what's close. To get your feet wet so to speak. Jumping off into a world you won’t believe is a little much for some beginners. But eventually. You’ll catch the dream. It’s a world built from dreams. Thankfully.
Before you just head out blindly you need to consider a few things about the park
- When to go; Not all parks are open year round. Some of them the weather conditions can be dramatically different
- Plan on camping; There might be a lodge to stay at nearby but there are no hotels in the parks: this is a wilderness adventure no Hilton
- Make a reservation: Some parks are, well, massive, you might not get to stay exactly where you intended if you just show up; by making a reservation you secure your little hideaway
- Talk to the rangers; these brave men and women know a lot more about the park tham you and probably ever will; make them your new best friend; the type of BF people like, not the Nagy one
- Check into the annual pass; you can pay as you go but the annual pass might be better
Yellowstone Park Pools
What to bring
Try and remember “This is a camping trip”. You need to bring all the things you would for camping. Food, water, fishing stuff, hiking boots, camera and phone.
There’s a good backpack guide How do I carry it all / blog articles | Catch More! you can check out too. And yes, a backpack should be on your list. The national parks aren’t freeways, at least not for cars. You might be able to go white water rafting, or kayaking, and maybe a horse ride, but no cars.
You’ll need to research the park you're going to for all the true necessities. There are lists on the national park service website.NPS.gov Homepage (U.S. National Park Service) Get familiar with this site.
The thing you really need to bring is your spirit of adventure. These places were built from dreams. They need to be explored, not just observed. Embody the spirit of Lewis and Clarke going out to map the unknown. Just try and know your limitations. Nobody, who doesn’t walk every day, is going to jump into a 20 mile hike on the first day. Pace yourself. You might have to leave something for next time.
And the next time.
And the time after that.
Once you start your sojourn into the national parks and the world built from dreams, you’ll want to keep coming back. Guaranteed!
The Park Pass
All of the parks do have an entrance fee. The price is different at the parks. Some things; like a mule ride into the Grand Canyon, might have separate fees. Just check your new favorite website The National Park service for fees.
There is also another way to go: “The Annual Pass.” An amazing investment especially for families. Usually entrance fees are per person, not with “The Annual Pass.”
This pass includes your vehicle and the people inside of it. And it is good in EVERY U.S. National Park for one year. It costs about $80 US, but check the website to make sure.
I wish they would bring back the lifetime pass. SSSHHHHH, but you never know, these places were built from dreams.
Each park has its own rules and regulations. What you can bring, where you can make fires, animal safety, and other things. Most of these are either for “YOUR” safety, or the wildlife in the park's safety. And there are the basic rules of the outdoors:
- If you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it
- If you don’t know its name, don’t try to pet it
- Just because it's cute doesn’t mean it's not dangerous
- If you brought it with you, take it back with you, leave no trace rule
- If you didn’t bring it with you, check before you try and take it home. It might belong there and only there
- If you can read words, you are a guest, act accordingly
There is one basic rule of the outdoors that you absolutely have to abide by. Leave it better than you found it. This doesn’t just apply to the National Parks, it’s everywhere. The world in general. All of it.
We need to ensure that future generations can enjoy these places and all the others in our world. Follow the dream of the people who built our national parks. The people who built a world out of dreams. And thank them every time you visit.
Enjoy the outdoors, Life is out here.
Great Sand Dunes, CO