Building and Bettering Parks

Leah Walters
September 3, 2018

Last year’s NPS Centennial exponentially increased the popularity of our nation’s parks. With increased visitation comes an increased demand for certain features and it is important that our parks have components that everyone needs/wants. In order to continue the success of our parks, it is important that all visitors enjoy their time in the park. The following features can help to achieve that…

Accessible trails

  This is very important in making sure that everyone can enjoy the park. Many families take their kids to the park and want to bring a stroller. While it is important to accommodate this desire, it is also necessary to consider wheelchair accessibility. Enjoying nature should have no boundaries or limitations. It is expected that some parts of a park won’t be accessible but there should be certain trails and venues that are accessible. One of the best ways to make your trails accessible is to use boardwalks or elevated trails. The solid and consistent surface allows for strollers, wheelchairs and even bikes in some instances.

Different styles of trails

  On a similar note, having different styles of trails helps to accommodate all desires. There are the serious hikers who are looking to get in their day’s workout. These visitors want longer and steeper trails. On the other hand, there are the leisurely, stroller-pushing families with little kids. These visitors want shorter and flatter trails that are easy to navigate and safe for kids. Having different trails designs helps to draws in and satisfy visitors of all kinds.

Educational signs

  Placing signs/plaques intermittently along the trail can be very educational. These allow visitors of all ages to learn something about the nature that they are enjoying. This learning can lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world around us.

Interactive nature  

  The parks help to bring nature to life and allow first hand experience with anything from plants to animals or insects. They allow kids to take their education out into the real word, and experience the things that they are learning about in the classroom. “In a textbook, a biome is a word and an illustration. In a park it becomes a working partnership of stream and forest, fish and crustacean, bird and insect,” National Park Service. 

Clearly devoted to conservation efforts

  Not only are parks great for learning about nature, but they are also great for learning how to protect it. A park’s conservation efforts should be publicized just as much as the nature.  This is a great way to teach kids about conservation and emphasize the importance for everyone. Visitors want to know that these parks are around for the long haul and how they can help.

All of these aspects of a park help to foster an appreciation for nature and emphasize the need for conservation. Getting people out and active in nature helps to protect it’s future. Experiencing the nature leads to understanding, which leads to appreciation and then to the desire to conserve.