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The National Park Service

The National Park Service

I love reading the news. I mean, I’ve sat at my computer for hours sometimes reading through posts from all over the world, getting a beat on what’s taking shape from land to land, in business, politics, and entertainment. My RSS reader usually has a few hundred stories for me to sift through each morning, and it’s the part of the day I look forward to each morning.

One of the stories I read today (from the Washington Post) is that visitation continues to drop at National Parks. The reason: Americans find them boring. This is hardly the case and not the underlying reason for park visitation drops. The real reason stems from the American Culture on two fronts.

First, America is living in a state of I must have it right now. In fact, if something doesn’t have videos attached to it, a pumping bass line, and killer graphics, most in the Generation X and beyond pay no attention. The Parks and Monuments have great multimedia aspects, but when you’re actually at the facility, it’s more about experiencing nature and learning about the past. I think this is where people get the notion that the Parks are boring. They are not boring, but rather the minds of the visitors aren’t developed enough to comprehend what they are seeing.

This brings me to the second reason: the dumbing down of America. When I worked in education in the US, I hated seeing what was taking place. Students consistently being passed to higher grade levels when they can’t even perform remedial skills. Teachers not being allowed to fail students because of parent backlash. This deviation from true instruction has created a society of weak-minded individuals. This is why when I visit the parks, the vast majority of the people I see are either Boomers or foreign guests. Rarely did I ever see a young American interested in their own natural and cultural history.

These factors are truly a shame, as the Park System has some of the most amazing site, yet people still do not take advantage of them. I once met a man from Phoenix, AZ who had lived in the state for 15 years and had never visited the Grand Canyon. Seeing that the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and less than four hours from Phoenix, I was perplexed at how he couldn’t make the time for something so simple since it was on his list of things to see and do.

Do yourself a favor and go out and explore the parks in your area. You won’t regret it and might even learn something.


Written by Steve Miller

August 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

6 Responses

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  1. It is a shame that our National Parks are so under used. I worked at Yellowstone for about 8 months in 2001. Most of the guests were like you said boomers and foreign guests. I always thought there were a lack of families traveling with children.


    August 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    • Ah so much in common we have. I loved my stint at Tonto National Monument back in 2006 and 2007. When at the parks, I was always happy to see younger people visit. I find it very interesting that here in Korea, that my colleagues and students find my take on both US National Parks and Korean Historical/Cultural sites more interesting than what they have experienced in the past. Perhaps, I can transition into a career that allows me to bring more people to these wondrous places.

      On a different note… Chicken Phong is opening next week. Since we have the same work schedule you up for a Fried Chicken and Beer evening one night next week?


      August 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm

  2. Sounds good. You wanna try Wednesday night? I finish at 9.


    August 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    • I can’t do Wednesday at 9, since I get off at 10pm. We can do it then or Thursday @ 21.30, since I get off at 9.10pm T/Th.


      August 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

  3. It saddened me to hear of local state park closures too. Local governments would rather close these beautiful gems than cutting their budget on other worthless expenditures.
    This weekend is actually the last of the National Park Services’ fee-free weekend for the summer. I hope local tourists took advantage of this great promotion and explore the beauty of their land.
    I’m looking forward to going to Carlsbad next weekend!


    August 15, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    • People seem more content to sit inside these days than to go out and explore. So sad!!!!


      August 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

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