Ansel Adams once said, “National parks provide an experience, a mood, an incredible subject for the camera.”
Before I had ever been to a national park, I had seen Adams’ photography. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the landscapes. Having grown up in the San Francisco bay area, we spent a lot of time in school on local history. This meant we studied two men in particular who would shape my view of the world greatly: Ansel Adams and John Muir.
Both were instrumental in the preservation and conservation of our beautiful country through helping to establish national parks.
Muir was heavily involved in the formation of Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and so many more. But more than that, he assisted in establishing the National Parks Service, which became the model for a number of other countries as well.
Adams was traveling from park to park capturing the beauty of each landscape at a time when people were struggling all across the country. Unemployment was high, people were hungry, and many criticized Adams for not focusing his art on real world problems. To this he said that he was better suited to do something different for humanity: to share the beauty of wilderness and convince people to keep some areas untouched for generations to come.
After failing to convince Congress to establish Kings Canyon National Park, Adams sent Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes a collection of photographs he had taken. The park was established not long after, Ickes citing Adams’ photos as the reason why.
Muir often said he felt a spiritual connection to nature. He believed that mankind is just one part of an interconnected natural world. Adams felt in awe of nature, humbled by it.
I first visited Yosemite National Park when I was 9 years old. I remember studying it in school. I remember looking at Adams’ photographs. But nothing compared to what I felt seeing it in person. I was at peace. I was home.
Currently, I am traveling the United States, visiting as many national Parks as I can along the way.
The amazing thing about national parks is that no matter where you live, you’re always within a few hours of one. That makes them some of the most easily accessible natural wonders in the country. There are activities for all ages and it’s relatively inexpensive to access national parks.
This journey isn’t just about me. This is an opportunity to show people what they might be missing in their own backyards as well as how these places can shape you and heal you.
I, like Adams, believe I’m best suited to help humanity through sharing the beauty of the wilderness.
We, as a society, have stopped spending as much time in nature as we used to. According to a study of 12,000 adults and children in the United States, more than half said they spend less than 5 hours per week outdoors. That’s less than one hour per day.
Studies have found a connection between mental health and nature. Disconnecting from the digital world and being present in the moment—noticing a tree or smelling a flower—is shown to directly relate to a person’s mental well-being. Muir and Adams both recognized that.
With mental illness on the rise in this country, we have to start asking ourselves what we can be doing better. Both for ourselves and those around us.
As I visit each park and visually showcase the beauty of the landscapes, I want to talk about the connection between human existence and nature. I want to address mental health issues plaguing me and this world as a whole. I want to showcase the spiritual power of these parks that Muir wrote about and Adams captured.
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Here you will find my story of traveling the Western U.S. alone with my cat for two months. Funny stories, heartfelt reflections, and travel tips.
Here you will find my personal story and mindless ramblings. You probably don’t want to read these. I usually write them when I’m exhausted or emotional.
Here you will find my mental health story, coping mechanisms, and things I learn along the way while traveling alone and connecting with nature.
WHERE I’M GOING
Yosemite NP, CA
Kings Canyon NP, CA
Sequoia NP, CA
Joshua Tree NP, CA
Zion NP, UT
Grand Canyon NP, AZ
Slot Canyons - Page, AZ
Four Corners National Monument
Canyonlands NP, UT
Arches NP, UT
Capitol Reef NP, UT
Salt Lake City, UT
Idaho Falls, ID
Grand Teton NP, WY
Yellowstone NP, WY
Glacier NP, MT
North Cascades NP, WA
Olympic NP, WA
Long Beach, WA
Opel Creek Wilderness, OR
Crater Lake NP< OR
Lassen Volcanic NP, CA
Redwood NP, CA
Glass Beach, CA