National Parks: Celebrating a Sentinel of American Memory

Bighorn sheep in the Mojave National Preserve, California.

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic Voices blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world.

Text and Photos by iLCP Fellow Krista Schlyer

Bighorn sheep in the Mojave National Preserve, California.

In 2001, I packed everything I owned into a station wagon and set out with two friends–one canine, one human–and a vague idea. I wanted to travel for a year and explore the National Park System and all other places wild and free that we might encounter on the way.

It has a romantic ring to it, no? Journey to the national parks! Road trip! In reality it was a move of desperation (for more on that read my new book Almost Anywhere: Road Trip Ruminations on Love, Nature, National Parks and Nonsense). During that year we visited more than 80 national parks, including the Everglades in Florida, Big Bend in Texas, Arches in Utah, Grand Teton in Wyoming, Olympic in Washington and many, many more in between. If anyone had asked me during that year on the road what I was searching for, I doubt I could have produced an answer. But 15 years later, and 100 years after the official creation of the National Park Service, I have one.

I was searching for memory.

Arches National Park
Mojave National Park
Mojave National Park

Wendell Berry once wrote of birds in the urban wild, “they are the remembrance of what is.” It is a strange thing to have to remember what is, but here we are, lost in a world of our own remaking. We have restructured almost every inch of Earth to make it more comfortable for us, more productive, more —> Read More

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail