Thank you National Park Service for 100 Years of Nature!

October 17, 2016

The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial birthday this year! We would like to thank America’s national parks for providing beautiful respites, outstanding recreation, and important ecosystem and historic preservation for communities across the country. Trips to national parks inspired our staff to become environmentalists, conservationists, tree-huggers, foresters, and climate scientists. Read about our favorite national parks below!

Pinnacles National Park

1stephanie-pinnacles

I’ve been to a lot of the big, splashy national parks (Zion! Yellowstone! Grand Teton!) but I have to say there is a special place in my heart for little-known Pinnacles National Park. I’ve been there several times and I just love it. Pinnacles is right off the 101 in the Salinas Valley, when you get near the Monterey area, so it is a great stop if you are on your way to some Central Cal adventures. It has some great day hikes and the scenery is spectacular. Caves too! As the name implies, it’s got lots of Pinnacles. If you like rocks, come here. It’s an exciting place for hardcore rock climbers but most of the fun stuff is accessed on easy trails.

Pinnacles was a national monument (established 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt) until President Obama signed into law, on January 10, 2013, the legislation from Congress to include it in the National Park system.
–Stephanie

Grand Teton National Park

2Amy-GrandTeton

Grand Teton National Park: I think it’s pretty self-explanatory as to why it is so incredible, but I happened to catch the sunrise coming up over the mountains, which was a pretty awakening sight.
–Amy

Yosemite National Park

3Lauren-Yosemite

Yosemite is my favorite National Park because of its incomparable beauty and its fundamental role in the creation of the National Park System.
–Lauren

Big Bend National Park

4Mark-BigBend

My favorite park is Big Bend National Park located in southwest Texas on the Mexico border. It’s hard to get there – 4.5-hour drive from El Paso, 6 hours from San Antonio – but the stark beauty and ecological contrasts make it well worth the trek. The Chisos Mountains within the park create a small island of diverse woodlands that’s usually 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding Chihuahuan desert, and the Rio Grande cuts a swath through limestone cliffs in the Santa Elena canyon. There are plenty of hiking trails in the park that take you through each of the biomes, with the South Rim day hike (~12.5 miles) being the most strenuous and rewarding. Bring lots of water!
–Mark

Glacier National Park

5Stephen-Glacier

Glacier National Park is my favorite park. The views in the winter, fall, and summer are unparalleled. I like the diversity of trail systems that caters to casual hikers or more intense backpacking/day hikes. It’s also a great resource for fishing and viewing different species of wildlife such as deer, elk, moose, and grizzly bears. This summer, while fishing, a beaver swam past me looking for the same thing I was. It’s always a surreal experience to see wildlife interacting with an environment outside of the confines of a city or suburban area.
–Stephen

Joshua Tree National Park

6Rhey-JoshuaTree

Joshua Tree National Park: because the landscape is a little weird and prickly, a state of being with which I totally identify. The park is an earnest testament to strange beauty growing in harsh and unforgiving places. Also, and maybe most importantly, it’s one of the closest national parks to Los Angeles.
–Rhey

Olympic National Park

7Jenni-Olympic

Right now, my favorite national park is the Olympic National Park. The diversity is incredible. It includes three distinct ecosystems – glacier-capped mountains, old growth rainforest and the ocean coast. Because of its location and isolation, there are several endemic species at the Olympic National Park. To be able to walk among the moss-covered old growth trees, gaze across the mountain range and see so many different animals in their happy, natural homes is very special.
–Jennifer

Zion National Park

8Andrew-Zion

Zion! What I love about Zion (and all National Parks for that matter) is its transcendent, natural beauty that makes you realize how small you really are. I appreciate the National Parks Service’s conservation efforts since it is so important that future generations have the opportunity to experience what makes these parks so magnificent.
–Andrew

Denali National Park

9Craig-Denali

How does one select a favorite park? They are all great! But I will offer up Denali. Seeing this view after hiking in the rain for hours made it all worthwhile. (35 year old photo!)
–Craig

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

10Sarah-Hawaii

Hawaii is home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, of which my favorite is the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The park is a monument to the powerful forces of nature on our planet and highlights the importance of respecting the Earth’s scientific processes. Hawaii’s landscapes are currently top of mind as we’re working to add Hawaii to the next update of our forest protocol. I’m excited about the potential opportunities to support natural lands in Hawaii through reforestation, improved forest management, and avoided conversion. And of course, it’ll be important that we fully understand the baseline conditions, so I should probably go back for additional research soon.
–Sarah

Voyageurs National Park

VOYA_web_approaching-west-end-of-Quill

Although it doesn’t have the grand majesty of many of our nation’s more iconic parks, I’ve found no other park that provides the opportunity to bond with and reflect on the natural world in quite the same intimate way as Voyageurs National Park, and the Boundary Waters region it’s a part of. Countless amazing memories from my time there are as clear today as when I first experienced them, including being serenaded by the haunting, lonely call of a loon, feeling the gentle taps and tugs on my line from a fish nibbling on my bait, sitting in front of a campfire on a rocky lake shore as the setting sun paints the sky yellow, orange, pink, and red, and staying up into the wee hours of the night to see incredible displays of the milky way, shooting stars and northern lights illuminating the sky.
–Jon

Grand Canyon National Park

All the national parks offer some pretty incredible features, but the Grand Canyon has always been one of my favorites. Whether you are standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or admiring its immensity from 30,000 feet flying over in an airplane, the Grand Canyon is truly breathtaking. The fact that the Colorado River, which seems so small from the rim, has been carving out the Grand Canyon for the past 20 million years is a stark reminder of how slow moving geological time is. It is also a reminder that these geological events have been happening since long before the Anthropocene, and will likely continue long after we are gone.
–Teresa

Channel Islands National Park

ISLANDS-48

Channel Islands National Park is my favorite park for several reasons. The location and topography of these coastal mountains miles off the California shore lead to stunning views of the ocean. The remoteness of the islands gives way to several interesting endemic species. The Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world. Isolation throughout its 13,000 year history allowed for the preservation and protection of a wealth of magnificent natural resources. The islands also offer excellent opportunities for hiking on the wild land and snorkeling and swimming among kelp forests and sea life. The islands are only accessible by boat or plane, but if you aren’t able to visit in person, you can watch their three live webcams – a bald eagle webcam, ocean webcam and Anacapa Island webcam.
–Gillian