family. adventure. never ending learning

2019: Our Family’s Year with the US National Parks (NPS)

First Trips

Our family’s first experience with the National Park System was a super fun, winter trip to Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah.  We felt like we had the park all to ourselves.  We stood in awe of the dinosaur fossils preserved in stone and the surreal landscape.  

Then our kids discovered the thrill of earning Junior Ranger badges at San Juan Island National Historic Park and at the world’s first National Park, Yellowstone.  

A Year of Discovery

This year, we stumbled on Ken Burns’ documentary on National Parks, America’s Best Idea.  

As a family, we are now hooked on the US National Park System.

2019 has been a remarkable year for our family.

We visited 5 of the 62 National Parks:  Glacier, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Saguaro and Grand Canyon.   We hope to visit all 62, or as many as we could, before our children are all grown up.

Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park
Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park
Hugh Norris Trail, Saguaro National Park
South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

This year, we saw Cenozoic fossils and learned geology at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  

American history came alive for us at Boston National Historic Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, the National Mall and Memorial Parks, Belmont-Paul NHM, Ford Theater, Fort Vancouver, Lewis & Clark and Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Parks.    

We heard drumbeats and the stories of the Blackfeet, the Flatheads, the Sioux, the Salish, the Nez Perce, the Shoshone, the Klamath, the Chinook and the Clatsop by the campfire.  

We heard desert songs and the stories of tenacity of the Hohokam, O’odham, Hopi, Havusapai, Paiute, Pueblo, Yavapai-Apache and Navajo.

We had fun adventures going to parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Ice Age Trail and the Boston Harbor Islands.

We have re-kindled an appreciation for the magnificence of Nature and wish to share it with those dear to us.

Jack Johnson sings Life is not always easy and things can be deceiving, but we’re better when we’re together.  

Much cherished are the times with our most precious in the wilderness, hiking mountains, finding glaciers, chasing waterfalls, learning the lives of the Chinook salmon, the otter, the marmot, the Roosevelt elk and spotting the difference between black bears and grizzlies. We have become beaver believers.  

Our son has taken a liking for birds, the living descendants of dinosaurs while our daughter has taken a fascination for Pacific Northwest mushrooms and mollusks.  There’s parental joy when they enthusiastically attend the “University of Huckleberry”, what they call the Junior Ranger programs.  

Here’s to 2020!

May it be a year that you find your Park.   And enjoy it with your loves.

May it be a year of exploration and discovery.

May it be a year that you sleep under the stars.

May it be a year that the ocean comes in view.

May it be a year that you and those dearest to you find profound joy.

North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park,
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

-Kathleen PB



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