National Public Lands Day

24 Sep

About five minutes after arriving at Petrified Forest National Park my brain short-circuited.


This was my first glimpse at the Painted Desert, and all I could do for fifteen minutes was stand there with my mouth hanging open. The landscape of rocks and badlands was so bizarre, so unexpected, and so beautiful that I had a hard time believing that I was still on the planet earth.

I had a similar experience a few days later watching a rainstorm blow into Mohave National Preserve.


Both of these experiences weren’t very different from the overwhelming experience of seeing Yosemite Valley for the first time.

Today is National Public Lands Day. I admit that as someone who works in a National Park, I spend a lot more time thinking about parks than the average person, and I spend a lot of my time in a place that is beautiful beyond words. But standing there stupefied in the middle of the Painted Desert I was reminded why we really need parks. We need places that leave us in awe, and make us wonder at the beauty of the planet.


It’s good to be reminded that because of the hard work of concerned people, both in the past and today, I can still go to places that make my jaw drop.



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