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National parks are a national treasure

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It’s no secret that national parks are hands-down some of the most beautiful places on Earth, with approximately 275 million people visiting them each year. Whether visiting to go on a camping trip with friends, a hike along a river, or to capture the perfect picture of a sunset, there’s something at national parks for everyone.
I personally love visiting national parks. After all, I have been to 15 of them, and some of these parks I’ve visited multiple times.
When I was growing up, my family and I would go on little trips here and there to some of California’s own national parks – a weekend trip up to Yosemite or a quick trip up to the Sequoias.
However, my parents also wanted to take my younger brother and me to less local places, so for a couple of weeks for two summers in a row, my parents packed us up in a little car and took us to national parks in other states.
Some of these parks include Mesa Verde, Zion, and Bryce.
At Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park, a personal favorite of mine, there are Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites that have been preserved, and the cliff dwellings that have been left behind by Ancestral Puebloans are tucked into some of Colorado’s mountainsides.
In fact, the hike up to some of these cliff dwellings is amazing for precisely that reason – the hike takes you up along the mountain, with some parts of the trail so close to the edge that the park had to put up a railing to keep people from falling off the cliff.
Even then, the view is beautiful, and the hike is led by a park ranger who describes the history and lives of the Ancient Puebloans.
By the time our group made it to the destination, the cliff dwellings had taken on a richer meaning, so looking around the buildings became even more fascinating.
Another national park with beautiful views and a unique hike is Zion National Park in Utah. Their most famous hike, the Narrows, takes visitors through – yes, through – the Virgin River on a wading hike. When I went, we’d luckily hit the trail on a low risk flash flood day, and at some points, the river ran up to my waist. We’d hiked a couple miles before taking a lunch break on top of a rock that rose out of the water.
It was an especially fun spot because we were able to see others hiking, and some of the smaller hikers had to swim through certain portions of the river because the water was too high for them, which made us laugh.
The experience was fascinating because I had never done any hike like it. I mean, how many places in the world have a trail dedicated to hiking upstream and downstream, right through a river?
Another fun park to visit is Bryce National Park, which hosts the world’s largest group of hoodoos (pillars of rock left standing due to erosion) in the world. In person – even more so than in pictures – the formations seem as though they are from another planet in their orangey-red smear of color. When hiking through the hoodoos, it feels as though you’re experiencing another planet.
Not only are the hikes around the collection of hoodoos unique, but they also make for amazing pictures. The colors are an especially beautiful sight at both sunrise and sunset, when the rocks appear as if they are glowing in orange and red light. Capturing a picture makes for a brag-worthy picture to show off once you get home.
Of course, all of the national parks are known for their beautiful scenery. Photographers from all over the world come to take pictures of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite’s Half Dome, and Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, and for good reason – they’re breathtaking.
I look back on the times I’ve gone to national parks and realize that they hold some of my fondest memories. There’s something to be said about being in nature and spending time with those you care about most.
I think everyone should put national parks on their bucket list or at least give them a try. I have immensely enjoyed each park I’ve visited, and I can’t wait to visit even more.

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National parks are a national treasure