Park Your Carcass

Grand TetonsHey! Guess what? We’re going to save the National Parks! At least that’s the theory. According tothe National Park Foundation, it’s baby boomers who make up the big share of National Park visitors. While our attendance is up, visits by people 16 to 30 are down.

The National Park Service is worried that younger generations don’t have the same veneration for wilderness and wildlife that boomers have. Too many text messages and not enough Wi-Fi? Hulu, Netflix-streamed movies and a host of other entertainment options are making it hard to get off the couch and out into nature.

ArchesAt the same time, many boomers (myself included), have these bucket lists of parks they want to visit. Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Staircase, Arches, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Death Valley, Glacier, Big Bend…the list goes on and on. I’ve got my Lifetime Senior Pass and I’m ready to go.

Undistracted by social media and career-climbing, boomers appear eager to get away from it all and to see what passes for natural wonders (and that excludes Kim Kardashian). What’s even more interesting is that many baby boomers are volunteering to work in the parks and that may not be the selfless act you think. I have this vision of us spending our retirement in tents and vying with the bears for food left in trash cans.

Perhaps the best legacy we could leave to current and future generations is that National Parks are good places to get back in touch with what really matters. Wi-Fi is great but it’s not the be-all, end-all experience when compared to seeing bighorn sheep in Yellowstone or giant sequoias in the high Sierras. Of course, getting in touch Glacier NPwith one’s self sound so sixties, it’s easy to understand why millennials might discount the experience. What would pot-smoking, tie-died former hippies know about life-expanding experiences? A lot, as it turns out. We know the majesty of mother nature when we see it and we know that we can feel a lot more centered in nature than we can on Facebook.

Final advice to millenials: try it, you’ll like it. Once you find solitude in nature and turn your back on the constant drone of media, you just might find out what’s really important to you.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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