This past year my wife and I have had the opportunity to visit a couple of National Parks or National Monuments run by the National Park Service. This year is the 100th anniversary of the NPS, and there are celebrations all over the internet. Today, Google even devoted their doodle to it, plus if you used Google maps you’d notice that the streetview stick figure became a park ranger.
The National Park system is one of the treasures of this country. Land that has been set aside to be preserved and protected, yet accessible for people to experience. It’s a strange dichotomy that didn’t always work well, but in recent years both science and tourism were able to really work together. The New Yorker has an excellent article about the history of science in the parks, that I would encourage people to read.
As for my wife and I, we’re on a quest to continue to discover what these parks have to offer. We’re not just limited to actual parks, as the NPS maintains many sites around the country that don’t fall under the designation as a park. Our recent visit to Effigy Mounds Monument is an example of a site that is amazing, but not quite a full park. Even though Minnesota only has one National Park, there are plenty of places to visit in our State that the NPS maintains.
I would also encourage people to visit Minnesota State Parks. I worked for 8 years for the Department of Natural Resources, and our State Parks are jewels to cherish in our State. Many of them are in some of the most scenic areas of the state such as the North Shore, and south along the river bluffs. Even though they don’t have the name of “National” parks, they are well worth spending time in as well.
Happy anniversary NPS! May we continue to support you as a nation that loves our land and wants to see it preserved for future generations.