American Culture Shock #23126: People don’t use their national parks

A majority of tourists don’t leave their vehicles when visiting any of the US National Parks. Grand Canyon. Teton. Yellowstone. Glacier. Yosemite. If at all, it is to pull over for a quick snap. And then a restroom stop at the giftstore.

I find that fact mind-boggling.

Giving abroad has taught me an appreciation of the United States and her geology, her nature, and her clean air. I can’t walk out every morning without taking a long deep satisfying breath of air. I’d be in the suburbs of my childhood home and still find the air cleansing.

I once asked my mother if she would ever consider moving back to her childhood home. She said no way. After building a life in the United States, my parents love it for its space, cleanliness, and choices.

How right they are. So I honored that by spending two weeks visiting our national parks. Renting a car to get to the parks is largely unavoidable because the country is simply built for driving. But getting out of the car with a day pack and camera and tramping for a day is a choice too few people make. And that is a crying shame.

There is only one other country that I’ve been to where I stood at a scenic point and have been utterly blown away but its beauty, ruggedness, and vibrant colours. New Zealand. We are so lucky to have so much park land set aside for our enjoyment.

So, folks, the next time you spend less than a few days in one of those grand parks, ask yourself, what is so important that you can’t turn off the engine, grab a bottle of water, lace up those walking shoes, and go out for a long stroll with your loved ones.

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