A good life needs both work and play. Better still to play and work simultaneously!
A bit of both worlds!
During the day (and right times of year) I get to teach classes about logical argumentation. Last semester, I spent a day with my classes considering an argument put forward by Christopher Ketchum here. The NPS faces budget constraints and growing demand for more facilities. Ketchum suggests (perhaps sarcastically) solving both problems by eliminating road access to the National Parks. In class, the focus falls on reading carefully to understand Ketchum’s argument. But today, I’m thinking more about the dual mandates of the Park Service and how they relate to our family.
On one hand, the Park Service must preserve the natural beauty of the Parks. But they must balance this against making the Parks accessible for the public to enjoy. Ketchum’s suggestion would alter the existing balance in favor of preservation. While our family generally bemoans the hordes of tourists in certain areas of the Parks, I’m much happier with the balance being struck by the Park Service.
The Park Service currently deals with the dueling mandates in part through diversity across the system. The roadless National Park Ketchum envisions wouldn’t change anything for Gates of the Arctic National Park. They don’t have roads to begin with! On the other end of the spectrum, Hot Springs National Park sits in the middle of town with historical buildings as a main attraction. Removing the roads would be nigh impossible.
When most Americans think National Parks, they think of Yellowstone and Yosemite, not Gates of the Arctic or Hot Springs. Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees more than 10,000,000 visitors in some years, while Gates of the Arctic sees closer to 10,000. But even in the more crowded units, you can still enjoy the wilderness Ketchum seeks. While the Yosemite valley may suffer traffic congestion and overflowing trash receptacles, the back country still provides places you can go for days without seeing other humans.
In short, if you’re willing, you can experience unspoiled wilderness in our National Parks, even the overcrowded ones, this summer!