The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25th this year and the future could not look brighter. From Sea to Shining Sea our National Parks continue to be a place where you can discover, learn, get inspired, or simply have fun. The opportunities are as diverse as the parks themselves. NPS Centennial is encouraging everyone to share their experience and to tell your story at www.FindYourPark.com
Happy 100th Birthday National Parks
Highlighting Yosemite & The Everglades National Park Systems
The summer started out for me out in CA. I had a unique opportunity to travel with my sister and my mom as we discovered two of the National Parks in California. We started in San Francisco and found ourselves on the island of Alcatraz. Long thought of as an island prison. Housing notables such as Al Capone and “Doc” Barker. Most of the 1,576 prisoners incarcerated there were not well-known gangster, but prisoners who refused to conform to the rules and regulations at other prisons. The prison itself offers itself up to folk lore tales as the frigid Pacific and turbulent waters of the Bay are ever present and the tangible sights and sounds of a era gone by surround you. The walking/guided tour are audio experts from interviews with prisoners, wardens, officers, and their families and children who also resided on the 22 acre island. The outcrop of officer housing and the prison itself are in pristine shape. The boat ride out on the bay is beautiful with sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge. An experience I’ll never forget and a bucket list item checked off for us all.
The next day brought us east and away from the Pacific coast to Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. This massive landscape fits into an area of 1,169 miles. The sweeping views of cascading waterfalls, granite cliffs of El Captain and Half Dome have to be experienced in person to get a perspective of the sheer size of the landscape. The photos and video captured by myself and other journalists can never capture the spiritual light that seems to surround this area so steeped in Native Tribe history. The trees themselves, like the mighty Sequoia living well over 3,000 years and showing no signs of slowing down. This is a popular destination for those looking to hike, camp, rock climb and be at one with the outdoors.
Yosemite National Park
Here in our own backyard of South Florida we are graced with the beauty of the Everglades National Park. The park is a World Heritage Site, a Biosphere Reserve, a wetlands with worldwide significance. One out of every 3 Floridians, that’s about 8 million people rely on the Everglades for their water supply. The Everglades comprise the largest subtropical wet-land ecosystem in North America. This ecosystem protects 14 endangered and nine threatened species including the Florida panther. “Alligator” Ron Bergeron of the FWC speaks on the conservation efforts and is on hand at the release of a Florida panther back into its natural habitat, the Florida Everglades. It takes dedicated officials to care for this national treasure to ensure this ecosystem is available for generations to come. Traveling into this wetland is a unique experience and is best seen on an air boat. These are the chosen form of transportation in this vast wet land. An air boat is a shallow boat that is pushed across the saw grass by an enormous airplane propeller. The high up seats take you above the towering saw grass and allow the rider to view animals in their natural habitat. The Blue Crane, Turtles, and yes the alligators.
Alligators are the symbol of the Everglades, the animal that for decades most tourists have anticipated seeing during a visit to the national park. Everglades National Park System was formed in 1947 and in 1999 The Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit company who raises money and attention to all issues regarding the preservation and restoration of this national treasure. This foundation continues to bring awareness to the conservation as well as grants. Visit evergladesfoundation.org for more information on Everglades conservation.
Wherever you many roam this summer, continue to educate and research the National Park System so they can continue to thrive for many generations of summer thrill seeking Americans to come. For more information on how to plan your next National Park vacation visit nps.gov, and get out there!