Our National Parks

Grand Canyon, nature

This month, Sunset Magazines’ front cover made me do a quick double-take….was that a painting or a photograph of the Grand Canyon? If you get up really close you’ll see it is an amazing photo complete with the Colorado River cutting a serene blue path through the base of the park.

That photograph reminded me of all the wonderful vacations I have had the privilege of taking in and around our National Parks. Warm, nature-oriented memories of when I was a kid when everything seemed so big. Then later, taking my own kids to see the wonders of Grand Canyon and fishing in Yosemite and the Sierras. From what I understand, fewer people overall are visiting our parks. If no one is going – who will stand up for them at crunch time?

It doesn’t seem imaginable to read that many of our National Parks are falling apart from neglect and lack of funding. How is it possible that in one generation we have let these treasures face potential ruin? The idea that I wouldn’t be able to get my family together for a trip to see Grand Canyon is unimaginable!

It just takes one visit to a National Park to see why they are so important. Choose one from the many that line our country from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska. Spend just a few hours and you’ll see how precious they are to us. They are some of our last protected open spaces, areas that someone stood up for and said “this area is special.” There are many people who deserve our thanks for standing up for these great, wild areas. But we can add our two-cents worth in order to preserve our National Parks for future generations.

We are lucky to have some beautiful spaces and State Parks here in San Diego. Spend an afternoon hiking up at Torrey Pines and take in fresh sea air while you walk among local sage brush and see the wiggle of a lizards tail as he scoots from view. Take your binoculars and view the Peregrine Falcons that nest in the cliffs, California Thrashers in the canyons and Marbled Godwit down on the beach. Make sure you stop at the museum at the top of the hill (if its open, funding again) and see the taxidermied animals that make Torrey Pines State Park their home.

If you can, drop a dollar or two in the donation box during your visit to any park. Even better, become a volunteer and help cut trails or give tours. Support these special places so that future generations can share the memories we have and pass them along. And take your kids outside to experience the joys of nature.

Everyone deserves the memory of seeing something as wonderful as the Grand Canyon. Let’s make us the guardians of these parks so that we have the real thing to visit and not just a painting or a photograph.