Just back from five days off-trail in Canyonlands, I can tell you that “America’s best idea” is a gift that keeps on giving. My daughters and I saw arches, Anasazi ruins, and epic Needles scenery—and not another soul. But will this gift keep on growing? Our last park was designated in 2004 (Great Sand Dunes), and the political courage that gave us places like Yosemite and Denali has evaporated like virga rain in the Utah sky. How can America’s 32 million hikers jumpstart new momentum? We should email
Congress, of course, but perhaps we should also offer a Faustian bargain to get their attention. If the NPS is too strapped to manage more than 58 parks, I say, let’s replace a few less-wild units with backpacking paradises that deserve protection. With apologies to many fine rangers working in these spots, my staff votes to drop the eight above (which we don’t cover in this issue for lack of real backcountry), and substitute the other eight.
Crazy? Share your thoughts and nominations below.