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Saturday, June 20, 2015

What I learned visiting national parks with my Dad

My Dad and I sledding at Mount Rainier 1969
In honor of father's day, I thought I'd pull together a list of my favorite National Parks to visit with my dad.

Growing up my parents made it a priority to take my brother and I to national parks every summer. We trek across America from New York to California, from Alaska to Florida. On these trips we always stopped at national parks. I didn't always appreciate these trips, especially as a teenager. But as I've gotten older, I've realized how special these places and these family adventures truly are. So thanks dad (and mom) for taking me (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the following parks.

5. Gettysburg: Visiting this park with my dad, we learned that real people made real sacrifices in order for us to enjoy the country we have today.  A lot like my dad, sacrificed for our family.
My Dad, brother and I hiking in the foothills around Denali. 1972

4. Yellowstone: Standing in awe of Old Faithful, my father made sure to teach me that like our forefathers who set aside Yellowstone for us,  I too must think about the future. We are to set aside something for the days to come.

3. Denali: Gazing up at Denali with my father taught me to be humble. He made sure to instill within me that there are forces in this world greater than ourselves. This understanding can be overwhelming, but he also showed me it can be empowering as we are part of something grand.

My Dad, brother, and I climbing Rainier in 1989
2. Mount Rainier: Growing up in Washington our regular trips to Rainier revealed that places of wonder, places of majesty are all around us. We don't have to go far they can even be in our backyard, we just have to know where to look.

1. Glacier: Every summer my parents would load up our camper and head to Glacier. We hiked, climbed and camped in nearly every part of that park. Going to Glacier will always be a special place and whenever I stand on the shores of St. Mary's Lake or take in the view at Logan pass, I will think of my dad. Going to Glacier taught me you can go home again.

Happy fathers day Dad, I hope you know that every time I visit a national park, I will think of you.

Sean Smith is a former Yellowstone Ranger, and an award winning conservationist, TEDx speaker, and author. He writes national park thrillers from his home in the shadow of Mount Rainier National Park. To learn more about his conservation work and novels, follow him on twitter: @parkthrillers

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, Sean! Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers. Lucky you that your father took you to such wonderful places. This is what we are doing for our children, not having travelled to national parks when my husband and I were young.