Reflections From Our Covid-19 Road Trip 🛣️
We saw firsthand how Instagram & Influencers have made National Parks and our wild space more popular but put them at risk at the same time. Increased interest in our wild and protected spaces has resulted in overcrowding and increased pressures on our natural systems.
Many people are hiking or visiting a national park for the first time. Being inexperienced, this demographic usually does not know how to act or chooses not to act accordingly while enjoying nature.
The first photo shows an example of overcrowding. The scene is from Devils Bridge in Sedona, where there was a 45-minute wait to take a photo standing on top of an arch.
The second photo is of the Narrows at Zion, where because of lack of rain and park-goers defecating in the river, it created highly toxic levels of bacteria. To try and reclaim the river and keep people safe, signs were posted to keep out.
Despite that, a stream of people went in and out, similar to what you might see at a Disney attraction. Ignoring the signage and making it harder for the stream to recover.
Another common sight we found across all the national parks we visited was graffiti typically etched into some scenic location. It’s commonplace to think trees can’t feel, but they scar and bleed too, just like us. Great Basin National Park, the most remote park we visited, was one of the worst offenders for graffiti and scarring of trees we saw. Also, in Grand Staircase Escalante, we saw recent graffiti etching on the same ancient rocks with Native American petroglyphs.
Everything Water 🌊
Water is arguably our most precious resource, especially in desert environments. Lake Mead, Lake Powell, and Lake Havasu are where the mighty Colorado River has been dammed to create a reservoir. We visited all these places as we saw water pushed to its limits.
A drinking source used for boating, fishing, and other recreation brings to question, by the time that water reaches your tap, what has it gone through, and is it wise to use our drinking water for recreation?
A common site was wildlife acting like pets because they are used to treats from bystanders. The bountiful signs that say don’t feed the wildlife were disregarded. Lines tapered off for nature heal/reconstruction were trampled with little regard for the park rangers’ efforts to bring back nature.
Sequoia had a clear fence and sign that said do not enter, yet it didn’t stop visitors from jumping the fence to get a photo. While in Zion, visitors outside the lodge were feeding and engaging deer. Actions like these have a lasting effect on the environment and those who want to enjoy the spaces afterward.
While our National Parks and wild spaces are changing, there is still a lot of beauty and life out there waiting to be discovered. Simple adherence to the Leave No Trace principles would make a world of difference in these places.
Traveling to a national park or spending time in nature and knowing how you can be a responsible steward to the environment? Learn about the Leave No Trace Principles here: https://lnt.org/