The National Parks of the USA


At the moment there is a series being shown on our (nearly) local PBS television station WGBH, and possibly your local PBS station as well, highlighting the birth of the USA's National Park system. For many in our country, including myself, we have long taken for granted the beauty all of these various National Parks give to us. I say 'taken for granted' because watching the new series by filmmaker Ken Burns called The National Parks: America's Best Idea, I have been reminded of the great vision and frequent struggle it took to secure vast areas of beautiful land for generations of visitors to experience and explore. The series covers some of the efforts that went into securing some of the Parks for the national good, the creation of the Park Rangers, and even some personal stories from our ancestors before us. It is really a beautiful story to be told and very very interesting - apparently taking Mr Burns 6 years to make. And, as I learned from watching one series about President Roosevelt's efforts in relation to the National Park system, there is a now meaningful saying engraved into stone at the top of the gate that marks the North Entrance to Yellowstone: FOR THE BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE. It is reassuring to know that there are many unsung heroes and heroines in our nation's history that played significant roles in protecting some stunning and inspiring locations so that they would never be harmed by the direct effects of mankind.

Glacier National Park

Zion National Park

Because of their efforts, we now have places as diverse as Acadia to Yellowstone and Yosemite - from the Grand Canyon, to the Everglades in the south, and to the Gates of the Arctic in the far north. There are now 58 National Parks in the USA - and the story of their preservation not only stretches back into 2 centuries now, but from watching the series on television - it is also insightful.

I've visited some of the Parks in my travels around the USA, but not all of them, as some people can declare. In fact, we are talking about trying to arrange a visit to the Grand Canyon with the kids..... my husband wants to travel down the Colorado river. The National Park system is truly a proud gem in our country - something to be proud of. I'd be happy to hear any special stories you might like to share from your memories of travel to any of the National Parks.

Arches National Park

But, if you can, I suggest you try and watch the series. Watching it as it slowly unfurls on the screen also has a very calming effect on you after a long hard day. And, because it is PBS you don't have to deal with any ads screaming at you! Even if you can't watch the series, you should try and buy the series on DVD. I'd like to do that to show my kids at a more reasonable hour since the series comes on after bed time!