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When Yellowstone was established as the first ever American national park, very little was known regarding the future of national parks in the United States. Arguably, those behind the national park idea had no clue that what they were doing would have long-lasting implications for America and Americans.
For modern-day American citizens, the national park concept was an amazing innovation and a great contribution to the pride of present-day Americans. As noted by Dilsaver “parks have been justifiably called the crown jewels” (1) of the United States. Over the years, many Americans have been able to cultivate great relationships with nature in order to safeguard it for future generations.
To the rest of the world, America’s national parks, as well as other national monuments, are a clear reminder of the beauty that nature holds. According to a study undertaken by Anzaldúa (26), it is quite obvious that most American citizens are proud of who they are. As a result, so much is done by the government of the United States and its people to conserve what they hold very dearly. Based on research findings, the American national park system is currently made up of close to 400 parks.
Drawing from a study by Dilsaver (1), the US national park system is generally regarded as a complex collection of numerous units placed into twenty different classifications. Arguably, they represent the finest that America has to offer in scenery, historical and archeological relics, and cultural display.
The paper looks at the significance of the national park system to America and its people. Specifically, it focuses on Yellowstone National Park, the oldest national park in America. Characteristics of Yellowstone National Park that make it stand out as a unique national attraction are discussed.
As an important national icon, Yellowstone National Park occupies a very important position in the history of the United States. Together with other national parks, they serve to remind the American citizens of their identity and to ensure that every person gets to appreciate the beauty that is associated with nature.
Yellowstone National Park
The American national park system makes an attempt to present an elaborate explanation for America’s history, interpret its culture, represent and preserve its varied ecosystems, and provide, incidentally, for the recreation of its huge population. For some people, the national park system is the best idea America ever had. According to Birnbaum (1), the importance of national parks comes from the fact that they remind the Americans of their cherished past.
To a certain extent, national parks are considered o be more precious than monuments, forests or even territories. For some people, they signify a piece of the American soul. Among other things, America’s national parks serve as important icons of cultural heritage. In addition, they help to preserve the pioneering spirit and identity of the American people. The U.S. government endeavors to promote the growth of national parks so as to preserve its unique natural resources.
For this and other reasons, the land was put aside for different parks including the Yellowstone National Park to be established. Augustin and Kubena claim that the creation of the Yellowstone marked the first time in history that a “government recognized that the wilderness belonged to all citizens” (5) without exception.
Time and again, parents take their children to visit American national parks in order to introduce them to what enshrines values and origins of the American nation. Ostensibly, national parks are what senior citizens in the United States leave behind as a legacy for their children.
As a result, all residents of the United States including the government have a vital responsibility to conserve national parks. Men and women who take care of national parks are among the most respected and trusted people in the United States for the work they do. Apparently, major works of art in the United States have been inspired by the beauty of national parks (Bernbaum 1).
As can be deduced from the above discussion, national parks are an important inheritance for the people of the United States. Besides serving as tourist attractions, they help Americans to appreciate who they are and where their nation came from. They are a useful source of employment and they help to contribute toward the growth and development of America. As pointed out earlier, the American government is keen to set aside enough land to conserve important natural areas and features.
Generally, Americans are concerned about the state of their health and would do everything possible to stay healthy. The existence of national parks thus provides American families to spend time away from their homes and to indulge in activities such as boating, horse riding, and cycling. Involvement in such activities helps to promote great health.
Established in the year 1872, Yellowstone National Park was the first national park to be recognized in the United States. After the creation of Yellowstone National Park, it is alleged that more than 365 were developed to form what is now commonly referred to as the American national park system (Rettie 2). The present-day American national park system incorporates historic sites, battlefields, recreation areas, and other units across a wide geographic expanse.
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As pointed out by Graf (5), a large part of the Yellowstone National Park lies in Wyoming with some parts of it extending to Montana and Idaho. It is among the most popular national parks in the United States with just about four million visitors every year. Occupying approximately 3,500 miles, Yellowstone National Park is considered to be the largest national park in the American national park system.
The park is well known for its thermal features that include geysers and hot springs. The most famous geyser in the park is the Old Faithful. According to Rettie (5), however, Yellowstone National Park existed for close to forty-four years before a National Park Service could be established to care for it.
Drawing from the study by Graf (7), Yellowstone developed as a result of violent volcanic eruptions that apparently created a giant caldera. Along its borders, the park is enclosed with mountains, lakes, rivers, and other thermal-related features. In addition to the numerous attractive features that exist in the park, it is the home of a diverse collection of wildlife.
Typically, visitors to Yellowstone National Park get an opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities while in the park including camping and hiking on an elaborate trail system that traverses the entire park. Visitors also get a chance to take part in boat riding on the Yellowstone Lake.
Due to its expansiveness and diversity, it is advisable for people to make several visits to the park in order to appreciate its beauty and uniqueness. Arguably, Yellowstone National Park has continued to set the pace for the national park system in the United States over the years.
Like any other national attractions, American national parks serve as an important source of revenue for the U.S. government. The national park system also provides employment for many Americans. Visitors to Yellowstone and other national parks come from outside as well as from within the United States. Without a doubt, such visits and tourism activities contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. national budget. As earlier noted, this includes the creation of job opportunities for the people of the United States.
In general, economic benefits associated with the existence of national parks in the United States may be placed into three different categories. There are those benefits that are experienced as a result of the enjoyment by American citizens who get an opportunity to visit the national parks.
As has already been pointed out, visiting the Yellowstone National Park presents Americans and their families with an opportunity to appreciate nature and participate in various rejuvenating activities. In this case, what the visitors spend is irrelevant when compared to the level of enjoyment.
The existence of national parks also has a significant impact on a number of economic activities that include job creation and investment opportunities. This category includes the various expenses of visiting the national park. As the number of visitors to the park increases, income for various people also goes up. Individuals who invest in different business ventures, for example, get a chance to earn more and employment opportunities are created.
On the other hand, the government benefits by taxing the income received by the national parks. The government also gets revenue by taxing the activities of traders involved in different businesses. The last classification of economic benefits covers the enjoyment by Americans as a result of the existence of the national parks whether or not they are visited.
After the official creation of Yellowstone National Park, tourism became a major source of income for the region (Augustin and Kubena 9). Presently, more than three million people visit Yellowstone National Park every year.
From the discussion presented in this paper, it is obvious that national parks in the United States occupy a vital position in the affairs of the nation. Most importantly, national parks help to preserve the identity and spirit of the American people. By conserving national parks, the older generation of Americans gets an opportunity to leave a legacy for the younger generation.
While Yellowstone National Park stands out as the oldest and one of the most commonly visited national parks in the United States, there are other parks within the U.S. national park system that are equally attractive and productive.
As has been pointed out, all parks in the United States act as an important source of employment and revenue for the government. The national park system in the United States thus contributes greatly to the growth of the American economy. The benefits enjoyed by American citizens as a result of the existence of the national parks come in different forms and act as a great motivation for Americans to take pride in preserving their heritage through the parks.
Apparently, the economic benefits associated with the existence of national parks may be enjoyed by citizens whether or not the parks are used. American families get a chance to visit national parks of choice in order to remain healthy and to enjoy a serene environment away from home.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands, San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1999. Print.
Augustin Byron and Jake Kubena. Yellowstone National Park. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2009. Print.
Bernbaum, Edwin. 2008. The Spiritual and Cultural Significance of National Parks. 2008. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/publication/2008/06/20080630161601cmretrop0.3615381.html#axzz3ATLdY726>.
Dilsaver, Lary. America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000. Print.
Graf, Mike. Yellowstone National Park. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone, 2002. Print.
Rettie, Dwight. Our National Park System: Caring for America’s Greatest Natural and Historic Treasures. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1996. Print.