I get a lot of reactions whenever I tell anyone that I am trying to visit every National Park, Battlefield, Monument, Historic Site and Lakeshore in the United States. Some people shrug and politely change the topic to something more interesting. Others point out that I will never do it because there are just too many. Rarely does anyone ask why.
First up, why not? The National Park System protects and preserves some of the most beautiful and unique natural areas in the country, and sites that reveal our country’s brightest and darkest moments. From the unspeakable grandeur of Yosemite to the battlefields of the Civil War, the parks offer a chance to learn, hike and engage with myself and the past. The parks show me what it means to be an American.
With President Obama’s recent additions to the National Park System, the story of America told through the parks is even more inclusive and more American than ever before. I am planning a stop in Ohio so I can visit the new Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. I wonder when I can get to California to visit the César E. Chávez National Monument. Next time I am in New York, I will definitely visit the new Stonewall Inn National Monument. These newly established park service units celebrate a more inclusive picture of American history.
Maybe I will never make it to all the of the parks. I don’t currently have the ability to drop everything and go on the road for a year. Hawaii and American Samoa are really far away and expensive to get to. North Dakota and Alabama are out of the way from where I usually travel. Maybe there are just too many. But, I am making progress.