A Change of Perspective : Why the National Parks Are Worth the Journey
by: Marc Young
The United States of America is big. Like really, really big. If you look at us on a globe, you will notice we are the 3rd largest country in the world, behind Russia and Canada.
Because of this, many people picture the US of A as the place the town in which they live, the place they have spent so much time, and they neglect the vastness of our nation. Ask a Bostonian what makes them think of the US and they will say Cape Cod summers, or Marathon Monday. Ask a Rhode Islander what makes them think of the USA and they will say the beach, and crappy pizza they find tasty (no offense guys). Ask someone from Maine the same question, they will say lobster and moose.
So, as a well traveled American and a guide on our recent US National Parks adventure, I very much enjoyed positively shattering these mindsets, and showing these people what America truly has to offer. Most of the folks coming on this trip have never been to the Western US. Those that have, were not experienced with the South West, and specifically the National Parks. Boy, did we make some jaws drop as a result.
I mean, look at the whole album of images we took from our Facebook page here…
The National Parks in Arizona and Utah might as well be a whole new planet given how unique they are. As you approach ANY of these parks, the build up is quite underwhelming. You are going through forest, or desert, or a weird mix of the two, but really not seeing anything all that spectacular. Then, out of NOWHERE, devastating beauty falls away in front of you. Each park is entirely different, but all are equally breathtaking.
For instance….in the Grand Canyon you obviously fall upon a mind boggling crevasse, so deep and vast it is impossible to fathom even as you lay eyes on it. As far as the eye can see are deep jagged canyons, with even deeper canyons falling from within them, crashing towards a riverbed floor you cannot see. The sheer magnitude makes you believe nothing on earth could ever hold a candle to its beauty.
Antelope Canyon is undistinguishable at first glance from the flat earth around it. Upon second and third glance too. You can't see anything but vast flat desert for miles. Then suddenly, a twist here and a dive down their and you are 100 feet below earth's surface, in a narrow glowing cavern that looks smooth and unearthly in its texture and flow. It looks to be molded from plaster rather than cut by flash flood and rainfall, not seemingly of this earth at all.
Bryce Canyon falls away suddenly from lush Dixie National Forest. Vibrant oranges and pale yellows clash majestically into a shallow canyon, filled to the brim with stunning hoodoos.
This is clearly the landscape of a planet where giants play with massive piles of orange mud, sculpting mud castles like a child on the beach, but on a gargantuan scale. The shallow canyon additionally allows you to walk in and among these distinguished rock figures, rather than leaving you an outside spectator as you are in the Grand Canyon.
Finally you reach Zion National Park, where another underwhelming entrance opens to massive orange rock-faced cliffs. In an instant, you can come to understand you have entered the park in the belly of the canyon, and must climb your way out to enjoy her most stunning views. With sporadic yet consistent vegetation in this wild land, you realize you have found yourself in a combination of all the previous landscapes, all the previous worlds.
If that isn't enough, wait for the sun to set. Where the main attraction was once the land around you, you are instantaneously hurtled headlong into galactic tranquility, as you lay on your back and stare at the deepest night sky a human could witness. Here, the night sky is so vast and immersive that you can almost feel yourself slipping off the planet and falling into the shimmering abyss.
As a guide, my favorite part of this trip will always be introducing my fellow travelers to a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view (YES that was a Disney reference, deal with it). No matter how many pictures people see, and no matter how much research they do, they are never prepared for the sheer wonder of these strange places. T
hey are so different, so jarring, and so wild. I love seeing these places, and drinking in their beauty, don't get me wrong. However, nothing will ever match the understanding that none of these people return home the same. Now when they picture the United States, they will still think of bald eagles and NYC, but they will also think of vibrant rock, winding canyons, and a magnificent night sky.
And we can’t wait for the next one….U.S. National Parks 2020, anyone?
Email me for a promo code or to chat about this epic trip at: firstname.lastname@example.org