Exploring the outdoors in July


Deep down, I think everyone loves summer. I know it can be extremely hot in some areas of the world. Some places with unbearable humidity and others with constant temperatures over 100 degrees for days.

Summer to me is a time of relaxation. The kids are out of school which means no homework deadlines. Although there is still a lot of activities during the summer for kids, it’s a different level of stress. Summer encourages a less stressful lifestyle. Yes, there are things that must get done, but there’s less worry about getting it done.

During the summer, our exercise activities can change from inside to the outdoors. There’s more to do and explore outside. And, this month, we’re celebrating National Parks and Recreation.

The United States has 63 national parks – congressionally designated protected areas overseen by the National Park Service. National parks are designated for their natural beauty, unique geological features, diverse ecosystems, and recreational opportunities.

My family started visiting national parks many years ago. Now, my daughter has a goal to visit as many national parks as she can. We’ve planned vacations to specifically visit some of these parks. We spent a week exploring several parks in Utah – Zion, Arches and Canyonlands.

In Arizona, we’ve taken in the breathtaking sights of the Grand Canyon. We came to appreciate the petrified wood and fossils in the Petrified Forest National Park.

While in Maine, we hiked to Cadillac Mountain, 1,528 feet above sea level. This is the highest mountain in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, and the highest point along the entire east coast of the U.S.

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is only hours from our home. When you visit, it’s like you don’t have a care in the world. You can park your car and explore the park on 500 miles of hiking trails.

Take lots of drinking water when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Trail Ridge Road reaches an elevation of more than 12,000 feet. The park is home to 150 riparian lakes, montane and subalpine forests and wildlife including elk, moose, mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, and cougars.

One of my favorite national parks is Glacier in Montana. It’s a quiet place for breathtaking views in the morning and sunsets during the summer. This park includes 26 glaciers and 130 lakes surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks. You can see it all from the landmark Going-to-the-Sun Road.

So, this month, get outdoors and explore the local, state and national parks in your area. I guarantee a new approach on life – one that is not as stressful during the summer.

Happy travels! Read more about National Parks & Recreation Month.

Brigitte W. Johnson, APR, MSM
SOPHE staff