The immediate reason. It’s exciting to have something to look forward to. Whether it be a long stint, a daytrip, or an extended weekend. It’s the undeniable truth that we all deserve a getaway. It’s a beacon of light that things are getting back to a somewhat familiar sense of normalcy. So why not enjoy nature in all its’ glory and go visit a National Park (or two).
Why You Should Visit National Parks
The most obvious reasons are so vastly popular because they are true.
Yes, visiting a National Park is:
- a hands on experience of learning history, vast ranges of ecosystems, conservation, wildlife, and natural topography.
- logistically, are more favorable in comparison to an International trip.
- the cost is more affordable, the location is more convenient, and it takes less effort and hassle.
But most importantly,
National Parks are truly spectacular and gorgeous places where everyone can enjoy, explore and relax.
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Sensory Deprivation to Sensory Discovery
16 Reasons why Explore National Parks
1) Choose your adventure
Similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Where the reader takes on the role as an adventurous character, who is faced to choose two to three potentially precarious options throughout the whole journey (book). The same goes for visiting National Parks. You create the journey.
You are the architect of your own adventure.
Each National Park has its’ own unique vasts amount of land, which provides different type of seasonal activities to choose from. These open spaces are so large, allowing exploration in every crevasse.
You can also choose the length of time to spend in a National Park, with whom you go with and the activities you want to be involved in.
Many parks offer different type of accomodations you prefer. If you’re not RV’ing or living your best Van Life. Many parks offer nearby hotels, on location campsites, cabins, lodges, or even glamping (glamorous camping).
Eventually, by exploring numerous National Parks. You will discover which is your favorite and why. That also puts you in a position as a wealth of information to pass along to others.
2) Nature’s Playground
Connect with your inner child.
One of my ultimate favorite Ted Talks is given by Mac Stone. A conservation photographer who combines his passion for photography with the Everglades. By default, many think of the Everglades as a spooky, critter infested kinda place. But Mac does an excellent job in introducing us to a multifaceted world of ecosystems and the resiliency of the swamplands.
In his talk, he touches on why it’s important for us to be in nature.
He says, “Before most kids are 12, they’ll have been to Disney World more times than they’ve been in a canoe or camping under a starry sky. And I have nothing against Disney or Mickey; I used to go there, too. But they’re missing out on those fundamental connections that create a real sense of pride and ownership for the place that they call home.”
3) Social Distancing
I know, I know!!! There are many terms associated with the ‘Rona and the associated terms are the last thing that most want to hear. Trust me, I’m rolling my eyes too!
With that said. National Parks were made for social distancing and I’ll leave it at that.
4) The Opportunity to See More Nature Than Before.
On a good note: Now is a really good time to get out there. Since human mobility has decreased, it has subsequently sparked wildlife to be the new tourists in towns.
Pictures and videos of wildlife roaming the streets in towns and cities are flooding the interwebs. Reports from San Francisco are showing coyotes coming closer to the city. Groups of mountain lions have been spotting in people’s yards in Boulder, Colorado.
Herds of goats in Llandudno, Wales have been seen eating their way through town. Dolphins have been swimming around where ferries and cruise ships no longer sail in the ports of Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy. And in the busy city streets of Barcelona, boars are treating the shrubbery along median streets as a full-on 24/7 FREE open buffet (those opportunists!).
It’s a great time to get into nature to possibly witness more wildlife frolicking about.
5) For The View & Visibility
National Parks are well known for their jaw dropping and impressive landscapes.
These dramatic backdrops are all the drama one needs in life.
Alongside reports of curious creatures coming in to explore towns and cities. They are many reports that show improved air quality in notorious cities known for their pollution. With fewer vehicles on the road and factories and power plants at a halt. There’s less burning of fossil fuels that emit nitrogen dioxide (No2) into the air. Thus improving air quality.
With all this improved air quality and visibility. Do not forgot to bring binoculars. These wonderful gadgets are the unsung hero’s that really enhance a trip. And simplify put, they are super fun to use.
These Adasion binoculars have night vision (great for stargazing & moongazing), are waterproof and comes with a phone adapter where you can take quality images of what you’re looking at and quickly share, all done through your phone.
6) Connecting With Others
With fewer distractions, there’s a greater chance for connection.
While on a hike in Hawaii. Which was supposed to be a non-concerning, quick 3-mile hike with friends, unexpectedly turned into a 10 miler of wrong turns, lack of signs on the trail, and periods of rainfall without cover.
Not realizing at the time. This hike was the workings of building a connection that was needed for a later purpose.
What flourished from the calamity-of-errors-hike, was me sending an email introducing one of my friends from the hike, to my Dad. During the hike, I learned my friend was getting into cheese making and was weeks away from moving to Honduras. She wanted to learn this new skill and take it with her to Central America. As we hiked along the rainforest, I shared with her, that my Dad has been a cheesemonger for years.
Right before her move. She and my Dad sent me pictures and a video of them making cheese together.
When being outdoors and being immersed in nature. We tend to share, and listen more, where our interactions end up having greater connections.
7) Discover a New Hobby – New me, who dis?
With so much around to explore. Time in nature can spark your curiosity and inspire a new hobby. Such as photography, birding, stargazing, or rock collecting.
It can also trigger the artist in you. Pierre Bonnard, a French painter who used intense colors in his work, simply said, ”Art will never be able to exist without nature.”
Many have been so inspired and intrigued by nature, that it leads them to a full time career (geologist, volcanologist, geochemist, herbalist, and biologist). If a career swap is not be an option. There’s always an opportunity to being a part-time enthusiastic hobbyist. And when you retire, the hobby can be enjoyed full time.
8) Nature and Human Health
There’s definitely a symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.
For centuries, researchers, scientists, therapists, etc. across many medical systems. Such as Western perspectives, Ayurvedic medicine, and Traditional Chinese medicine have all put emphasis on the value of nature to human’s well-being (physically, mentally, and socially).
Studies have found that areas of the brain respond to nature. When our senses take in nature. Our brain’s activity, particularly in the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula brain regions, are triggered. These areas manage cognitive functions such as empathy, altruism, and decision making.
The biophilia (the innate love for living things) hypothesis suggests humans are genetically predisposition to have an innate attraction to nature, according to Edward O.Wilson.
A professor in Japan, Miyazaki Yoshifumi has conducted many studies over the past 30+ years. In one of his experiments, he measured cortisol (the stress hormone) in the saliva of volunteers before and after they took a 20-minute walk.
He had one set of volunteers walk in nature and the other in an urban setting. His research found that cortisol levels from the nature walkers, dropped an average of 13% than those who walked in the urban environment. The nature walkers also reported a greater sense of well being and increase mood after spending time in nature.
Now if there’s a way to replicate this feeling when I walk around a gym rather than having to exercise in a gym….that would be spectacular. Nawwww… I’ll just go run around in nature;)
9) Outdoor Activities
For all levels. There are SO MANY options!
On the top of my head, there’s hiking (obvs!) bicycling, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, canyoneering, boating, fishing, snorkeling, paddleboarding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, spelunking, rock climbing, tightrope walking. Of course, check with your destination if a guide is required.
Let’s not forget some National Parks are known for diamond hunting and fossil hunting.
It’s also great to be a spectator too. Everyone loves to have a cheering section.
10) Road Trip Adventures
Embrace the open road and enjoy the views along the way.
Road trips are little adventurous nuggets. They are the pre and post adventure. Think of the opportunities to make pit stops at landmark oddities, like the world’s biggest ball of yarn. Or stop at general stores that sells the best local foods.
If you need some ideas to help pass the time in the car and done with playing, “I spy with my little eye” car game. Have a listen to a podcast or Ted Talk about your destination. It will give you a better insight and appreciation when you get there.
Then take turns being the DJ and listen to each others music. It’s a fun way to discover new songs and genres. Or the ‘quiet game’ is good too. 🙂
11) Take the Doggo or Catto
There are adventure cats, too!
Pets are family and it wouldn’t be adventure without them. Besides, National Parks are the best at being pet friendly.
12) Camping Food
I’m not talking MRE (meals ready to eat), granola- bran type horse food, or smores (Mmmmm….smores). I’m talking meals cooked over an open flame on a grill. There are endless amounts of recipes specialized for camping. Some dishes take only a few ingredients.
Yet, if you plan to spend several days in the backcountry, you’ll be better off with nutrient-rich foods. These types of foods keep you energized for a long period of time while keeping the overall weight to a minimum.
Here are some other recipes to try 52 camping food ideas from Fresh off the Grid .
Seeing and feeling water in its natural setting is definitely a treat. There are so many National Parks that showcase stunning hot springs, beaches, waterfalls, rivers in caves, geysers, glaciers and much more.
One the most amazing National Parks I’ve experienced. Was sailing around islands in Komodo National Park. It was an epic adventure of watching komodo dragons, hiking island summits and swimming around beautiful coral and ocean life.
Caves are amazing and I’m not talking about a man/woman caves in homes (although some are pretty fantastic and necessary).
Natural caves allow us to be a guest in an exotic ecosystem. It’s not everyday, we get to experience this.
One of the most exotic and diverse National Parks that I have experienced for is Gunung Mulu National park and Bako National Park in Borneo.
I discovered so many new lifeforms that I’ve never seen or knew existed. I also witnessed a spectacular experience of 3 million bats mass exodus from a cave for their night feeding. Mother Nature is truly remarkable.
Get away from the light pollution and gaze up towards the vast blanket of the cosmos.
Test your knowledge and skills at identifying the Milky Way or Orion. Or better yet, bring or download books on stargazing and see if you can point specific planets and star patterns.
“There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on any beach, more stars than seconds have passed since Earth formed, more stars than words and sounds ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived”. – Neil Degrasse Tyson.
16) Sunsets, Sunrises and Natural Light
Ancient Egyptians (25th century BC -mid 24th century BC) believed the sun as a deity and called it Ra. Every morning, Ra was reborn and at night descended to the underworld. Only to loop back around to do it all over again.
The Aztecs (1300 -1521) believed in 5 sun gods, the previous 4 died at the end of each cosmic era. Their fifth sun god, Tonatiuh was also believed to be reborn each time at sunrise. Every day, Tonatiuh made a voyage across the sky to die each day at sunset.
Fast-forward to present day. Many campers see an opportunity when the earth orbits around the sun, as a way to use natural light (sunrises and sunsets) to reset their internal clocks.
No matter how you see it, sunrises and sunsets give us a little magic mixed in with romance. It’s a great way to break away from artificial light and receive some vitamin D.
Have a favorite National Park? Let us know in the comments.