RoadTrip 16: Wide-Open Spaces

Did you know that there are there are 58 national parks and more than 150 national monuments across this county? Not to mention the hundreds of historic sights, state and national forests, and scenic byways. Each offers a fascinating glimpse into our history as a country and as a culture — perhaps even providing insight to the issues that plague us in these tumultuous times.

Being away from the headlines and out in wide-open spaces lent new perspective on this amazing and wondrous country. From the grandeur of our National Parks like Badlands, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons, to the significance of National Monuments like Pipestone, Devils Tower, and Mount Rushmore, it was easy to see the diverse fibers of this nation. We are not one color, one voice, one god. We are many, sewn together in the quilt pattern so easily seen from above

Easily seen, too, if you make time to get off the highways and visit places like Buffalo Gap National Grassland, Black Hills National Forest, or Custer State Park.

At each of these special spaces, there are dedicated stewards; people like you and me, who love their country, love nature and history and literature. Individuals from different backgrounds and with different influences and beliefs who are passionate about protecting the vast and varied blessings of this country.

This year, the National Park Service celebrates its Centennial Anniversary. That’s one hundred years of conserving “scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein.” That’s one hundred years of honoring the diversity and differences that make this country so amazing.

Even better? You don’t even have to drive 3,700 miles. Click here to find a National Park near you, then make plans to visit soon. We are blessed by this country’s abundance, go see for yourself!

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Shores of Lake Michigan

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Indian Lake Passage near Spring Green, Wisconsin

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Pipestone, Minnesota

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Pipestone National Monument Loop Trail

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Near Montrose, South Dakota

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Badlands National Park

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Custer State Park, Black Hills, South Dakota

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Mount Rushmore as seen from Iron Mountain Road

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Buffalo National Grasslands

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Beartooth National Highway, winding through Montana and Wyoming

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Views of the Absaroka Mountains

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Steam rising at Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone’s glacial erratics

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Where the buffalo roam

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Artist’s Point, Yellowstone National Park

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Aspens at sunrise, Grand Tetons National Park

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Harvest Moon over the Grand Tetons

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Grand Tetons Glacier

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Grand Tetons from Colter Bay

Photos ©2016, Jen Payne

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