Hello everyone, I am Xiang Rong and this is my podcast about National Parks. The reason why I am so interested in national parks is because national parks help to preserve what little nature we have left in this world. Also, people can actually go to national parks to experience first hand the wonders that nature has to offer us. Hence, the topic of my podcast will be national parks and what people actually do in national parks. I will be visiting Sequoia National Parks to see first hand what activities people engage in National Park and also to bask in its immaculate beauty.
Foremost, people visit National Parks for its immensely beautiful scenery.  There are many unique geological landforms and contain some of the rarest and oldest trees on earth as my trip to sequoia national park has taught me. The general Sherman tree which I visited is coming close to 3000 years old. Furthermore, many endangered wildlife roam these parks, which adds an allure to the parks already stunning landscape.  According to the National Parks Service website, “Within the park boundaries, park staff distinguish approximately 40 different giant sequoia groves, ranging from one to tens of thousands of sequoia trees per grove.”  And “It hosts the largest living sequoia, the General Sherman Tree.”  So one may ask why national parks and not any other place and the answer is simple, it is because national parks host some of the most magnificent landscapes and natural life.
When I was at the park, I encountered different groups of people, mostly families, on the trail to see the great General Sherman tree. When I asked several of them what they enjoyed about national parks, the first thing that they always say is the scenery. Many of them also said that they had visited other national parks before and have been enthralled by the view. I talked to a young couple, who seemed to me to be in their late 20s or early 30s, they said that the first national park they ever visited was Yosemite, and that the view of El Capitan form one of the lookouts blew them away. The greyscale of granite rocks, a signature of the park, against the azure blue background of the sky on a cloudless day is indeed a something to behold. I can personally attest to this as I went to Yosemite last year over the long weekend of Martin Luther King’s day. From the vantage point that lets one look directly at three of the parks main features- El Capitan, Basket Dome and Half Dome, one becomes in awe of its sheer magnitude and grandeur.
Another reason why people visit national parks is to embark on breathtaking hikes. Again according to the NSP, “Over half of the visitors to Glacier National Park report taking a hike”. Although this statistic is for one sole park, it stands to reason that most people would engage in some form of hiking in national parks since there are countless trails and even more which are unpaved. While at the start of the ranger led hike in the Giant Forest, I met a couple, John and May (not their real names). They told me that they had hiked this trail once before during late spring and said that going on such hikes grants people a view of nature that one does not get from simply driving around in the car and going to common vantage points. They were so amazed by the “wilderness” experience offered by the hikes that they had to return again during another season, in this case winter, to experience it. I talked to another guy, lets call him Jack, at the Crystal Springs Campsite and he told me that he had just finished a 1-day hike. He said that although the hike was arduous due to the cold and snow, the experience was well worth it. I also went on other mini hikes, or rather trails, which led deeper into the forest away from paved roads. I saw a few squirrels around, probably just coming out after hiding away to avoid the harshest months of winter. Occasionally, I could hear birds chirp as well, signifying that spring has indeed returned to these forests. As it just lightly snowed, the entire forest was covered in a blanket of untainted white, with copious amount of snow hanging every so capriciously from the boughs of the giant trees. Where the rays of the sun shone directly onto the draping snow, it melted and fell like rain. Going deeper into the forest, the air became light and fresh. It smelled like a mix of humus and moss with deep notes of wood; it was a pleasant and subtle but noticeable smell. If you had ever read the book “The Enchanted Wood” by Enid Blyton, I think this forest would be the closest thing to the forest described in the book. The sights, smells and sounds combined is the very epithet of beauty.
So you might wonder what else has the park got to offer other than stunning static landscapes? The answer is wildlife. “Today, our national parkland comprises 52 million acres and (according to the National Park Service) is home to some 5,399 species of vertebrates.” According to an article from Travel and Leisure. In the park at one of the vantage points looking over a valley and river, I came across two deer who were grazing on the mountain side. This was the first time that I had seen a deer that was not in a zoo and the experience was simply amazing! Furthermore, while driving through the mountains in the late evening, we spotted a lone wolf. We first saw it when we were making a bend and the headlights from our car shone into its eyes which reflected like moonlit waters. When talking to others while visiting the General Grant tree, some said that they have even seen a bear roaming the mountain sides. From what I’ve gathered from the visitors I spoken to, most of them have seen some form of wildlife before that is unique to the parks, the most common of which are deer.
In essence, I think that national parks serve to preserve what little nature that we have today. After visiting two parks, I feel very fortunate that I live in a time where some of this nature is still persevered. Having experienced the parks, I can see why people are so enthralled by it; I think it is because it gives us a sense of surprise and freedom. It is lucky that we can still go to national parks to experience nature at its finest and I hope that people would continue to enjoy nature and conserve it for future generations. Thank you for listening to my podcast, and have a great day.
- National Parks Service, Hiking The Trails
- Natiobal Parks Service, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Exploring Giant Sequoia Groves
- Travel and Leisure, Best National Parks for Wildlife Spotting, Jessica Su
- National Parks, Tourism
- National Parks Service, Yellowstone, Wildlife Viewing