Civilization in our time is driven by materialism and troubled by pollution, over-population, corruption, and violence. National parks can hardly be uncoupled from the society around them, but that only makes it more important to protect them and keep them whole and pure. Michael Frome
Spring inspires hope, fosters a sense of freedom, and prompts us to get serious about exploring the wonders of the outdoors – the rivers, forests, lakes, mountains and rivers around us and the oceans that largely define our nation. The season also gives us pause to respect and care deeply about our natural heritage.
We’re midway through National Park Week 2017, a partnership between the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. We are set free to ponder the possibilities – and to thank our forefathers and mothers who had the vision and the perseverance to assure that our natural legacy remains intact and accessible to all.
Truth to tell, my favorite park is Windom Park, the jewel of Northeast Minneapolis. No mountains or seashore, but great walkways, elegant trees, a wading pool, tennis courts, a soccer/softball field, hockey rink – and a zip line – all of which-call out to my favorite eight-year-old boy who lives across the street.
Great as it is, Windom Park didn’t make this top ten list in the National Park Foundation’s survey of Favorite National Parks – the voters’ choices are:
#1: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. Discover Yell, owstone National Park!
#2: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK. Discover Yosemite National Park!
#3: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK. Discover Grand Canyon National Park!
#4: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK. Discover Glacier National Park!
#5: ACADIA NATIONAL PARK. Discover Acadia National Park!
#6: ZION NATIONAL PARK. Discover Zion National Park!
#7: ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK. Discover Rocky Mountain National Park!
#8: GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK. Discover Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
#9: GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK. Discover Grand Teton National Park!
#10: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK. Discover Bryce Canyon National Park!
Minnesota’s sole national park, Voyageurs National Park (https://www.nps.gov/voya/index.htm) also escaped the Top Ten list – an altogether good thing because the scourge of the wilderness experience is trendiness. Though we are inordinately proud and appreciative of this wilderness wonder, we are comforted to know we won’t be edged out by throngs of road trippers.
We need to know, too, that Minnesota treasures not included on the selection list of national parks include several Minnesota monument and recreation areas that are designated as part of the National Park System. The list includes some lesser known sites (https://www.nps.gov/state/mn/index.htm)
Explore these closer-to-home, accessible sites here:
- NATIONAL MONUMENT Grand Portage Grand Portage, MN
- NATIONAL RIVER & RECREATION AREA Twin Cities Metropolitan Area
- NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL Seven states-New York to North Dakota ,
- NATIONAL MONUMENT,Pipestone
- NATIONAL SCENIC RIVERWAY Saint Croix Falls, Minnesota and Wisconsin
Learn much more about the states designated sites here https://www.nps.gov/state/mn/index.htm
The supreme reality of our time is …the vulnerability of our planet. –John F. Kennedy