The National Park Service was first established on August 25, 1916. A time when we already had 11 designated National Parks within the borders our country. The creation of the National Park Service (NPS) was a monumental event in the history of our country as it became the unified governing body responsible for managing all of our National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas and other national treasures. As an organization it is tasked with maintaining the difficult balance between preservation and exploration, conservation and exploitation of many of our greatest national treasures. Treasures that are meant to be preserved not only for our own enjoyment, but as a means to learn, interact and inspire our lives.
The national parks have been a large part of my life the last 20 years and have become an important part of who I am. Growing up in the pristine Wasatch Mountains of Utah, my family never felt the need to visit any national parks. After all, we already lived in the granite mountains, surrounded by meadows, rivers and unlimited recreational opportunities, so why look elsewhere. Therefore, I never experienced as a youth what our national parks had to offer. I never saw Canyonlands or Arches, Capitol Reef nor Bryce Canyon. I remember only one time during my high school years visiting Yellowstone National Park for the day. It was a much different park back then, but I still felt it’s magic and left with a single impression…more, please.
I vowed that when I had a family of my own, the National Parks were going to be a part of our lives. As soon as Allison and I got married some 20 years ago, the National Parks became an integral part of our new family culture, and quickly became a treasured part of our lives. It seems that every vacation, or free weekend availed to us, found us within the parks, hiking, learning, exploring and photographing. It is within the boundaries of the parks where the pursuit of my photography was not only born, but truly discovered. The parks have helped shaped the way in which I see the world, and ultimately helped me realize my own personal style of outdoor photography.
As our family has aged, and increased through the years, the national parks, both domestic and abroad, have always remained a part of our lives. My kids, now growing into young adults, genuinely enjoy the national parks and all the unique experiences they help create. Okay, they sometimes complain about all the hiking, but once the view or experience at the end is realized, even they are inspired. This should not be a surprise, after all, they have been waddling through the parks ever since they could walk. As I look back over the years, I realize that as a family we have seen a great many of our national parks, but not all of them……yet!
This leads to my centennial thought. I have always wanted to see every park, so, as the National Park Service celebrates it’s 100 year anniversary, I think now is the time to complete this lifelong goal once and for all. My kids only have a few more years left at home, and I want to make sure that they see, and experience every designated National Park before they leave our nest. They have been in many parks throughout their lifetime, but the caveat with this new goal is that they must remember, and have a unique memory of every single park. If they can’t remember it, it didn’t happen, and is therefore back on the list to complete. I have to admit, I am really excited for this next chapter of exploration. Excited to be immersed in my photography again, excited to see and learn more things, but most excited to see the memories light up within the eyes of my kids as they not only discover who they are, but continue to discover this beautiful and unique world that surrounds them.
If you want to follow our adventures as we complete this goal over the next few years, check us out on Instagram @jeffambrosephoto or on Twitter @JBAmbrose as I showcase parks we are currently visiting, or ones we have visited in the past. If you want to buy some of my photographic prints from our national parks, please visit the Portfolio section of this website and help support a local artist. Also, feel free to ask any questions or share any thoughts on your own national park adventures.