Over the past year, I’ve noticed a big push to find your park.
I find this absurd.
As an Eagle Scout and avid outdoorsman, I’ve spent the better part of the past two decades exploring national parks. I was blessed to have parents who took our family to national parks every chance they had. Our national parks system is one of our greatest assets. One that I truly do believe is underappreciated.
I’m all for individuals finding adventure. I believe it is instrumental in developing the human spirit. But the notion of finding your park creates a mentality of takers.
The idea that individuals should find their park inherently implies that the park is theirs. It encourages them to treat it as if it belonged to them. This is all at a time when parks are already struggling. Over the past few years, our national parks have surged in popularity, which is putting a strain on the parks already limited resources.
The statement “find YOUR park” leads individuals to explore these parks as if they were their own. It implies a sense of ownership. It leads individuals stray off of marked trails, litter the woods, and deface natural artifacts.
The slogan also reinforces the notion that one’s experience at a national park should be catered to them. Instead of being mere observers, visitors have come to demand
higher expectations. They expect accommodations and dining to meet commercial standards. In order to cater to these growing demands, companies like Xanterra, have stepped in to provide fine lodging and concessions within the parks. No longer are the accommodations in national parks basic cabins, they now rival luxury hotels (with prices to match).
All I’m saying is let’s not Disney-ify our national parks. Let’s not tear down forests so visitors can have better coffee. Sure let’s make them accessible for all to see, but at the same time be conscious of the footprint we leave. Let’s keep them pristine. Let’s leave them as we found them, not as we want them to be.
So please, don’t find YOUR park, rather discover OUR parks.
P.S. if you ever have any questions on how to adventure in the wilderness without leaving a trace, please don’t hesitate to message me.