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Our National Parks: A Beautiful Gift

How our national parks, protected lands, and their stewards are a gift to all Americans from those who came before us.

By: Mayson + Save to a List

In 1872, then President Ulysses S. Grant established the first national park by signing into law and creating Yellowstone National Park. This was the first of many gifts that would come to be some of the most significant Americans have ever received. After all, this single act sparked a wildfire that would lead to a total of 12 national parks by 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed in to law the National Park Service Organic Act giving birth to the National Parks Service.

National Parks Service Arrowhead Logo -Zion National Park, UT

Today the national parks system is made up of 59 national parks and the National Parks Service oversees some 417 areas including: national parks, national recreation areas, national monuments, national historic sites and more. I believe that our national parks, along with other protected outdoor areas, are one of the most noteworthy gifts we have ever received from wise men and women who came before us. These leaders set aside portions of our country's unique lands so those who came after them could enjoy them. This groundbreaking idea of protecting large sections of Mother Nature and her stunning landscapes is something that few other countries of the world offer on such a grand scale. Without the preservation of these special and diverse geographical areas, they likely would have been altered by human development and our man made world long ago. Leading to their natural state being lost forever. 

Reflection Lake - Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Some of these areas feature geographical and/or historical features so unique that they exist nowhere else in the world. Without their safeguard, they would likely have ceased to exist because of the expansion of man with little to any thought to their natural, historical or one of a kind value. Take the Grand Canyon for example, it is the most unique geographical canyon in the world because of its shear magnitude. If it were not protected, it's possible it would cease to exist from prolonged development and mining along with a multitude of other interventions by man. Similarly, the battlefields of the Civil War or our national monuments in places like Washington D.C. would not be protected today or preserved for historical reverence without the protection of these lands by the National Parks Service.

Kolob Canyon Entrance - Zion National Park, UT

If these areas and the stewards who protect them aren't truly a gift from those who fought to protect these areas a century before us, then I don't know what a gift truly is. The leaders at the forefront of the movement to create our National Parks System and protect the areas that fall under the stewardship of the National Parks Service knew all to well the potential future consequences of not acting to preserve these places. Moreover, they acted not solely for their own benefit, but for the benefit of countless Americans and people for decades to come. This is especially evident as the National Parks Service celebrated it centennial not but a year ago. 

Sol Duc Trail- Olympic National Park, WA

That is why it is also important for those of us that love and truly value these natural landscapes to continue to work for their preservation not solely for our own enjoyment, but for the continued enjoyment for another century to come of those that come after us. We must appreciate this gift given to us by those who came before us and pass it on to those who come after us. I think it a responsibility for us all who are continuously captivated and drawn to the majesty and awe of these gorgeously unique areas and Mother Nature's endless beauty. That is also why I plan to visit all 59 National Parks and more sites protected by the National Parks Service in my lifetime. But for now...

Grab your gear, and let's go enjoy the gift we have in our national parks, it's adventure time.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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