Explore America’s incredible national parks while at home

Explore America’s incredible national parks while at home

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Japan

After weeks cooped up at home, it’s only natural to long for wide-open spaces, the pounding of surf and dizzying heights.

There’s one advantage to this new reality in which travel takes place in the mind: geographical boundaries no longer confine us to the spot.

So today, let’s turn our sights back to the homeland and the wonderful properties overseen by the National Park Service. The NPS is a federal government agency created by an act of Congress back in 1916 to preserve the ecological and historical integrity of our most special places, while making them accessible for our edification and enjoyment.

Our 419 national park sites are wonderfully diverse and include bays to battlegrounds, craters to canyons, and mountains to memorials. They’re places where we can camp, cycle, fish, swim, kayak, hike, climb, play and learn. They stretch from coast to coast and are found in Alaska and Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

An optimal time to explore this treasure trove of history and natural beauty is during National Park Week, celebrated from April 18 through 26 in 2020. This year’s event has, not surprisingly, a focus on digital experiences. It’s a week to discover some new and amazing places, learn about our history and culture, and plot future travels.

Each day of the week offers a different theme, among them April 18, National Junior Ranger Day, when kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge online; April 20, Military Monday, when the service and sacrifice of the US military and their families is recognized; and April 22, Earth Day, when the NPS’s role in earth sciences is in the spotlight.

You could easily dedicate an entire day to virtual visits to national parks. Start by watching the sunrise over Garfield Peak in the Crater Lake National Park. In honor of those brave and selfless medical professionals presently giving their all to sustain their fellow citizens, explore the house of Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross. Once summer begins in earnest, hone in on bears via the webcams of the Katmai National Park and Preserve, and with a little luck, you might even see one catch a salmon.

Japan is beautiful to be sure, but the good old U.S.A. isn’t too shabby either. Won’t everything look good on that happy day when the invisible enemy is vanquished and we’re all set free again?

 

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