Last week I spent four days exploring Yellowstone with a friend – it was my first time visiting our country’s first national park, established by Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.
There were many highlights from the trip, including an unexpected snowstorm, resulting in a beautiful but precarious drive through the park, a dunk in Boiling River, and seeing BEARS (mamma and her two adorable cubs). Added bonus I shared these experiences with my friend, Lauren.
I continue to be inspired by the writing of conservationist, Ilan Shamir, who offers human advice from the perspective of our many natural wonders. It’s clear Ilan is on to something and the best advice does come from nature. So, following in his footsteps and reflecting on my time in the park, I put together a few words of wisdom I gleaned from Yellowstone.
Advice from Yellowstone:
- Slow down or you may miss something
- Create stories to inspire, experiences to protect
- Be patient and use common sense
- There’s beauty in imperfection
- Respect your surroundings
- Be prepared for the unexpected
- Enjoy the view
- Be kind to animals
- Practice stewardship – pick up any litter you see (#makeapactpackitout)
Our national parks have been called “America’s Best Idea” and after spending time in Yellowstone it’s clear why. Not only was I in awe of the rich diversity of the ecosystems, the constant beauty of the park was breathtaking. I was also impressed by how well organized it was, its overall cleanliness (though I did see some litter), the focus on stewardship throughout the park, and the politeness of motorists (we were never honked at for driving slowly or tailgated).
Despite Yellowstone’s welcoming appearance, our parks are in trouble and strapped for cash. Our parks get little money from Congress, a tiny fraction of the Federal budget. In 2001 parks received a meager .12 percent; in 2014 it was down to .07 percent. With increased visitation, our parks are challenged to keep up with general operations and maintenance, and as a result, corporations are swooning as sponsorship becomes a viable revenue stream to make up the shortfall.
If we are to keep our wildplaces free from corporate interests, we can’t be so cavalier when it comes to preserving them. We need to support them and encourage others to do so as well, which is why I donated $10 to the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service’s official fundraising partner, as part of my Small Change initiative.
This year marks the Centennial of our park system—my hope is that we’ll still be enjoying them 100 years from now.
Have you spent time in Yellowstone? What advice did you takeaway from the park?