Are you a US National Park lover? Me, too! As a life-time senior pass holder, I am in like flint. But if you love your parks like I do, you have no doubt noticed that it can be a real challenge to visit.
The lodges and camp sites book up a year in advance. The car lines at entrances can be excruciatingly long. The popular paths are walked with hundreds of others. Unless you are one who is willing to park the car and hike in several miles, you’ll be sharing your nature experience with many others.
There were times when summer meant packing up the station wagon, piling all the stuff and kids in, and heading to a national park on a road trip. It’s just not that simple any longer. Overcrowding in our park lands is changing the scenery.
According to a recent article in Travel Weekly by Jeri Clausing, Yellowstone National Park is the perfect place to visit in the winter, or really any time, with a tour company. Jeri had the pleasure of taking a winter tour with Tauck recently. You will find they offer a wonderful luxury experience on all the tours they offer. While Jeri may have questioned the decision more than once while standing outside Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Minus 13 degrees waiting to board their special snow coaches, it ended up being one of the most memorable trips of her lifetime. This was one of the “Ken Burn’s American Journeys” tour series. It just may be one you would also like to consider.
Burns shared with the author that there is no other place, other than maybe love or religion, that you can be a part of something that is so much bigger than yourself. Last year more than 300 million people visited our national parks…that’s the third highest attendance since they began keeping records in 1904. Surely that proves our love affair with our parks, and Ken pointed out that is a wonderful thing. It just may keep people from drilling for oil or cutting down trees. Right?
My reason for sharing this with you is to help you see that it may be beneficial to our parks and to you if you visit with a tour operator. Being able to learn with a naturalist guide can no doubt help you appreciate the land even more. As crowds increase, we must have discussions about how to alleviate the lines of cars and fellow nature lovers. Making your visit more meaningful can benefit everyone. And you can be sure that visiting in winter allows you to explore in areas that are inaccessible in the summertime. You will have the park to yourselves and be able to appreciate the wildlife viewing in a landscape that is other-worldly.
I found a couple of the quotes especially memorable from this inspiring article. Burns was quoted as saying, “If you say that “I stood in line,’ that’s a good thing. Because if there was nobody there, somebody would come and say, “Nobody goes there. Let’s dig for uranium.”
And this one Ken shared is from a 19-year-old after his visit to Denali National Park. “He said that being in the national parks reminds you of your atomic insignificance. That’s what national parks do.”
Which park is calling you? My wanderlist includes many of the lesser known. How many have you seen in your lifetime? Ready to pack up the kids in the car, or call me to research the best tour option for you?