Walk on the Wild Side

Kenneth Shapiro You’ve got to hand it to those visionary naturalists and politicians who had the good sense to create the National Parks system the first park being Yellowstone in 1872. They understood that one of this nation’s greatest resources is its wild places, and that those places need protection.

By: Kenneth Shapiro

You’ve got to hand it to those visionary naturalists and politicians who had the good sense to create the National Parks system the first park being Yellowstone in 1872. They understood that one of this nation’s greatest resources is its wild places, and that those places need protection. Just take a look at today’s headlines to see how right they were.

Fortunately, for us here in the West, many of the greatest National Parks are in our own backyards. These are not just open spaces, but they are icons that have come to symbolize what the West stands for in the imagination of people all over the world. Just ask someone from London, or Paris, or Tokyo, or New York City for that matter, what the American West looks like, and the Grand Canyon is likely the first image that comes to mind.

In this issue’s cover story, “Parks of the West” (page 12), we offer agents a variety of commissionable tour and lodging options in eight of the West’s top parks.

If you need more inspiration or even potential marketing materials check out the Web site of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (www.npsretirees.org). In an effort to promote the country’s parks, these former NPS employees have published the results of a survey of members’ favorite spots within the parks. These are the places where retired employees go themselves when they want to get away from it all.

Why would they offer up their secret spots?

“Too many people who come to the parks are what I call windshield visitors who miss all the best views and sites,” said Rob Arnberger, a former superintendent at both Grand Canyon and Big Bend. “My advice is simple: Park your car, get out the boots, take a hike and discover your own country.”
Get out there and discover your own country. That sounds like a message to pass along to potential customers.

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