The movie "Field of Dreams" prophetically professed,
"If you build it, he will come."
"If you designate it [a national park], they will come."
We live in a busy world where we don't always take the time we should to stop and focus on the beauty of the place we live in. And yet our national parks are overflowing with visitors each year. Offering something for every type of person, from visitor center exhibits and videos to multi-day and multi-sport back-country adventures, they draw us in with the allure of grandeur and tranquility.
Nearly 80% of the state I live in, Utah, is designated in one way or another as public lands. Year after year the controversy brews over the fairness and necessity of the government controlling where and how we live within our own borders. Oftentimes the blame gets put on the lawmakers and other officials "back east" who have never been here. Would they be so quick to sign the dotted line of a land deed if 80% of their state were to be taken away (seriously, Rhode Island/Connecticut/Delaware, think what that would mean).
While I do agree in many ways that states themselves should control their resources (yes, land is a precious resource), I am also grateful for the places near me which are protected from development and urban sprawl. With 5 national parks and many other BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or other legally protected sites, in Utah I have been spoiled by the ease in which I can walk out my door and escape reality to peacefully wander away from it all. I'm grateful, too, thinking of all the similarly designated sites in places I've lived or visited all across the United States.
Several of my favorite examples are:
Tell me about your favorite national park experience!
*Updated post originally shared in March 2013*
Unless otherwise noted, images in this post
are linked to their source on nps.gov or this blog.