Two men stood atop a mountain ridge, amongst snow-kissed passes, sharing their vision of a national system of parks that would offer the country “places for rest, inspiration, and prayers.” The year was 1903, and those two fellas were President Theodore Roosevelt and Sierra Club co-founder, John Muir. Thirteen years later their vision was realized.
Muir, born on this date in 1838, was one of America’s most celebrated naturalists. He had a vision making him known as the “Father of the National Park Service.”
Had it not been for visionaries like Roosevelt and Muir, and the countless others that followed in their footsteps, the places we treasure like Yosemite and the Everglades–or lesser known, yet equally treasured places like Piscataway Park–may have been lost to development or “progress.” Because of their passion, millions of visitors to the more than 400 national park lands not only enjoy the peace and serenity that these special places provide, but also have a space to get outside and be active.
As President Obama stated in his Presidential Proclamation in honor of National Park Week yesterday, “these places reflect our heritage and help tell the stories about giants of our history and extraordinary chapters of our past…. they offer something for everyone, and chances are, there is a National Park closer to you than you think.” Discovering these special places is what the NPS wants you to do. This is the purpose behind the new #FindYourPark campaign, launched a few weeks ago to kick-off a year of celebration in advance of its big 100 year anniversary next August.
This year, as you plan your family vacations or weekend day trips, think National Parks. Take in these natural wonders, learn something new about our heritage and history. You don’t even have to go very far. Whether its the vivid autumnal tints of Shenandoah’s Skyline Drive, kayaking over the Potomac’s Great Falls, or staring in awe at the wild beauty of the Assateague Island ponies, a National Park is only a short drive away.
Be inspired by John Muir: Grab a buddy. Get out there. Find your park. And discover something wild!