|"Yellowstone - Where the Buffalo Roam" ©Mary Montague Sikes|
Then I think of John Muir, the naturalist who walked from Indiana to Florida and eventually explored California by foot. Co-founder of the Sierra Club, Muir was instrumental in establishment of the Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. In 1903, he went on a three-night camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt and is said to have influenced his conservation interests. Roosevelt, of course, was a huge champion of the National Parks.
I think also of the great photographer, Ansel Adams, whose iconic photographs of scenes from Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks depict nature in a unique and unforgettable fashion. Interesting that he was injured during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. When he was thrown against a garden wall during an aftershock, his nose was broken and never properly repaired. He spent time in New Mexico with one of my favorite artists, Georgia O'Keeffe. He, too, was a great conservationist as well as an explorer of nature and the environment.
The X-Factor for the National Parks is the glory of exploration. Americans love to explore. Thankfully, we also have conserved these beautiful lands that became our National Parks.