“You cannot really be first rate at your work if work is all you are.” – Pulitzer Prize winning author, Anna Quindlen
Anna 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 coming up, you may be thinking about how you’ll be spending your time.
There is one simple way you can get a better, happier life, and improve your work at the same time — visit a U.S. National Park. Or, even better, visit a few!
I confess, I’m biased. Every Summer as a kid growing up, my parents loaded my three 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. Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent camping with my family beneath giant trees in a National Park.
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 (which has the oldest, tallest, wildest trees in the world)
- Yellowstone (explosive!)
- Bryce (otherworldly)
- Zion (dazzling blue skies)
- Crater Lake (home to the deepest lake in the US)
- Grand Canyon (breathtaking, and a bit scary for a kid)
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 (as if you need convincing!) why you should visit a National Park this Summer:
1. You’ll be renewed and inspired
National 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 you can get in a National Park 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 National 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. It one of the most exotic – the US Virgin Island National Park on St. John. It was 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 National 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!
Let the power of National Parks transform your summer. Discover a National Park near you and plan your next trip! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Your turn: What is your favorite National Park, or which one are you dying to visit? Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all my emails and would love to learn more about you! Or, tweet me your answer at @cdmerrick!