Over the weekend Heidi & I began to watch the "National Park" series by Ken Burns. I'm a big advocate of the national park system & I've spent time in several of the national parks. I'm hoping to feature one of my favorites everyday & also tie in some thoughts about why nature is so important & can lead us to a more joyful life. I've become inspired again after watching this series (we've only watched the first two) & feel the need to share my inspiration. I hope you'll all enjoy this journey & I urge each of you to discover a national park near you.
To begin this week I start with my favorite national park: Yellowstone!! The picture above is one that I took from the lower falls looking out through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This picture is hanging in our living room & I was fortunate to finish in the top 10 of a photo contest with this picture. Have you ever been inspired by a picture? This picture inspires me for a couple of reasons; First, I am able to transport myself back to the moment I took this picture & remember the beauty all around me. Second, this picture is a journey through life for me. I made sure to include the rainbow (I had to hang over a railing to get it in the picture) because to me a rainbow always signifies hope. We all need a little hope to get us through life. The Yellowstone river is the journey of our life, a winding path that disappears into the distance. There are times in our life that if we would just let go & with the flow we would be carried onto a better life. Unfortunately many of us try to swim up river & battle our way through life. Then finally, we have the blue sky, something always to be able to look up to with comfort.
Yellowstone is my favorite national park because of it's diversity. You have the beauty of many water falls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the geysers & paint pots, the beautiful mountains & a huge lake. Along with all this diversity it's one of the best parks to see wildlife. The last time I was there we picked up a laminated wildlife & bird card & tracked all the varieties of animals we saw within the week. We were able to see most of the animals & birds that we on this card including: Buffalo, Elk, Moose, Grizzly Bear, Osprey & hawks. The beauty of the park comes alive to you much more if you take the time to get out of your car & hike some of the many trials the park has to offer. A park ranger once told me that 98% of the visitors to Yellowstone never go beyond their cars & the "tourist" spots. To me being able to get off the beaten path & hike with my two younger girls was amazing.
We began the week with the longest & toughest hike, hiking nearly 6 miles (round trip) to the top of Mount Washburn the hike takes you through many different types of scenery & eventually through several switchbacks to the top of Mount Washburn which is more then 10,200 feet above sea level. On this hike you go up a total of 1,500 feet from the beginning to the end. The beauty of the Yellowstone valley from this peak is amazing & I would encourage all of you to check it out if you go.
Yellowstone is huge, there is a loop road that covers most of the park. On this loop road there's a road that splits it approximately through the center. With stopping to enjoy the views & the animals you'll be lucky to drive one half of this loop in a day. My suggestion is to take as much time as you can. I enjoy staying in the "canyon" area because it gives you easy access to the other parts of the park. There are both camping & lodging options in the "canyon" section of the park.
The beauty of nature is something we all need to reconnect with. It is only through this true connection that we can rediscover who we really are. There is a part of us that remembers our connection to the land & it's in rediscovering this connection that we can begin our journey to a more joyful life.
Quote of the day: "The beauty of Yellowstone is in it's diversity. Take time to discover this jewel of the national parks!"