When we picture our dream vacation, we see foreign cities or exotic beaches — not necessarily an intrastate road trip. But if we just gave any of the 59 (yes, 59) national parks a second thought when scheduling our getaways, that might change. Ever since Woodrow Wilson’s signing of the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916, these nooks of nationally protected natural beauty have offered a gratifying retreat and memorable experience for all park-goers for more reasons than you’d think. As the NPS turns 101 this year, check out why you should park it at the national parks below!
1. They’re affordable. On this vacay, the word “kayak” really does just refer to a small boat, not a travel website. Forget frantically searching the internet for airline deals, because no matter where in the US you live, a national park is within driving distance. Entrance fees vary, but most are under $30. Plus, the NPS offers 10 free entrance days, and there are still a few more left before the year ends. Combine that cost with the money spent on gas, and still, tell me, when’s the last time you got a plane ticket for that cheap?
2. They’re good for our health. Greenery, walking, and sunshine have all been proven to improve health, and they’re all ever-present at the national parks. Take your pick and trade in your typical spa services and museum tours for the all-American great outdoors; you’re sure to feel healthier and more rejuvenated than when you arrived.
3. They’re good for the economy. A national park visit a day keeps the national debt away — or at least we think that’s how the saying goes. In 2015 alone, visitors to the national parks generated $32 billion for the economy and supported 300,000 jobs. This mind-boggling amount includes the impact made on local communities’ restaurants, hotels, and stores. Numbers don’t lie.
4. They’re beautiful. This one almost goes without saying. If you Google “natural wonders of the world,” the US’s own Grand Canyon is always right at the top, but even the lesser-known parks can hold their own.
5. They’re at risk. Visit national parks if for no other reason than this: Donald Trump’s proposed Interior Department budget for 2018 could do some damage to the National Parks Services. The expected consequences include reduced staffing, closed facilities, and, most notably, an impeded ability to conserve the land and its resources. So support our prized national parks by planning a trip.
What national parks have you traveled to? Tag us in your travel grams @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)