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“You cannot really be first rate at your work if work is all you are.”
That’s according to Pulitzer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen.
She has a point. In her book, “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”, she writes, “Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines.”
With Summer in full swing, there is one simple way you can get a better, happier life and improve your work at the same time — take some time off to visit a National Park. Or, even better, visit a few national parks.
I confess I’m biased. Every Summer as a kid growing up, my parents loaded my 3 siblings and I into our station wagon (and later, a rickety camper) and we set off for a National Park. It was non-stop adventure (and undoubtedly one of the best investments my parents made in our well-being).
Our family lived in California, so our adventures began out West – visiting some of the best Parks before my 12th birthday including: Yosemite (overwhelming beauty), Sequoia (oldest, tallest, wildest trees in the world), Yellowstone (explosive!), Bryce (other worldly), Zion (dazzling blue skies), Crater Lake (deepest lake in the US), and the Grand Canyon (breathtaking, and a bit scary for a kid).
Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent camping with my family beneath giant trees in a National Park.
Our National Parks have something for everyone, from the rugged individualist, to the cultured businessperson, to adventurous couples, families (young and old), and especially for the enthusiastic environmentalist.
Here are 4 Reasons You Need To Visit a National Park This Summer:
1) You’ll be renewed and inspired:
The Parks offer some of the Earth’s most spectacular scenery. Countless studies show the link between renewal and nature. Take in breathtaking mountain ranges with massive peaks, roaring rivers, emerald green rain forests, or rising dune fields.
“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein
2) You’ll get a boost of energy:
Get out and hike or bike a trail. Ride the rapids of a river, or wade in a creek. The huge dose of exercise and fresh air will energize you.
“Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street.” – William Blake
3) You’ll increase your happiness:
As you witness some of America’s greatest treasures in our National Parks, you’ll be awestruck. A UK study found that people who spend time outdoors and near the water are happier.
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle
4) You’ll learn a lot while having fun:
The Parks are huge outdoor classrooms of biology, animals of all sorts, meteorology, and history. Here are a few facts – our National Parks offer 85,000 miles of the country’s most beautiful rivers and streams and over 43,000 miles of our wildest shoreline (water + people = happiness). They include 27,000 historic structures and nearly 70,000 archeological sites. Over 400 endangered species are protected in our Parks. Each park offers talks, guides, and unique things you can do.
The last National Park I visited was in March – the US Virgin Island National Park on St. John. It was one of the most exotic places I have ever been. Plus, getting there was easy – it’s a short plane ride to St. Thomas from the East Coast, then we sailed to St. John on a boat. It has become one of my favorite Parks with an underwater, 225 yard snorkeling trail.
On my wish list is the rugged, coastal Acadia National Park in Maine – we haven’t planned that trip, yet.
So, while Summer is still here, take some time away from your hectic work (and life) schedule and discover a National Park near you! You’ll be glad you did.
- Lonely Planet’s Discover USA’s Best National Parks