Today is the National Park Systems 100th Birthday, and of course I need to celebrate this big day because without National Parks my love of traveling never would have begun.
I was about 8 years old when my dad took our family to our FIRST National Park. We piled in the minivan and drove from Orlando to North Carolina to visit the Great Smokey Mountains. We hiked (a LOT), white water rafted, and of course became Junior Rangers. Every summer following that we visited at least one National Park.
My dad always believed that is was extremely important for us to explore the outdoors and to see everything the USA had to offer. As kids we TOTALLY took this for granted. I will never forget the miserable hike up The Mist Trail as a 13 year old. My parents had to bribe us the MnMs the entire way up! To return to that same trail almost 12 years later was incredible. This time around I was taking it all in.
It’s always been amazing to return to the same place twice…just at different moments on my life. Visiting Yellowstone was spectacular when we went in the summer. We spent the night at the Old Faithful Inn, and white water rafted…and I honestly don’t remember too many hikes (I hated hiking as a child…). Nothing could prepare me for seeing Yellowstone in the winter. It’s pristine and magical.
So…the question I always get asked…what is my FAVORITE National Park I’ve visited? And my answer is always the same. I can’t pick. There is something about each park that I love. Whether it’s the wildlife seen roaming the park or the giant mountains, there’s something for everyone to appreciate.
Today in my second grade classroom we spent Social Studies time working on the Centinnial Junior Ranger badge book. I absolutely love getting to share that with my students. We spent a lot of time talking about what an incredible man John Muir was (seriously my hero). I love the message they shared…how ONE man can have such a lasting impact. I am so happy our country has these beautiful and protected places. I can only hope one day to share it with my children.