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January 20th, 2017

Visiting a National Park Could Change Your Life

Book cover

By Helen Hossley
I was introduced to our national parks on December 10, 1989. I remember the date because it was the birth of my enchantment with our national parks. I landed in Yellowstone National Park while on a skiing journey with a friend, Ginger. Ginger’s friend, Arden, was a geologist and a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone during the summer. He owned Yellowstone Expeditions and led overnight cross-country ski tours near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River.

As luck would have it, Arden needed help leading a group while he continued to set up camp. I had time on my hands and skis waiting for an opportunity to get off the car rack and into some snow. The experience of spending a week in the backcountry of Yellowstone captured my heart, drilled to my core and embedded itself in my DNA. The magic that was unveiled led to my becoming a National Park Service Ranger. I had the privilege of wearing the iconic hat and uniform for almost 5 years. The values and mission of our National Park Service remain with me today.

I share this with you as I hope to inspire you to visit the national treasures, ours and those around the world.

Did you know that the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday on August 25, 2016? There are currently has 413 areas within its supervision covering approximately 84 million acres of land? There is a site within every state in the union as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico. These areas include national parks, monuments, historical parks, historical sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trials, the White House and more. Our national park system was created to ‘preserve and protect for future generations.’ The sites highlight the magnificent landscapes and natural areas. They afford us a place to relax, rejuvenate, recreate and wonder. They also are a bookmark of our history, the good, the bad and the ugly. No matter where your interest may lie whether it be Native American, World War II, the Manhattan project, women’s suffrage, civil rights, presidents’ lives or natural history, there is a site for you.

To whet your appetite, here are a few sites in the New England and New York area:

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, Woodstock, VT

St. Gaudens National Historic Site – Cornish, NH

Weir Farm – Ridgefield & Wilton, CT

Touro Synagogue – Newport, RI

Cape Code National Seashore – Cape Code, MA

Acadia National Park – Bar Harbor, ME

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt – Hyde Park, NY

The National Park Service began its next 100 years steadfast in its mission. Seek out, discover, and explore; for these sites belong to all of us. Begin your national park adventure and wonderment wherever you choose, and if you have the good fortune to visit any of our parks during the offseason, magic happens.

Helen Hossley is the author of “Do I Get to Wear That Neat Hat?” To find out more about her book visit her website at www.helenhossley.com

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