National Parks have been called the best idea America has ever had. I have to agree. This past week has been National park week, a time to celebrate our idea to set aside and save some of the best that our country has to offer. Its a hard job to balance the millions of visitors parks get every year with the mission of protection.
In the late 1980's, I actually postponed grad school graduation ( I was one course shy of finishing) because of a job offer with the NPS, in my favorite national park. I was a ranger in Rocky Mountain national park for 3 summers. My kids will tell you that those summers were their favorite
while growing up. I worked in a campground, was trained to fight forest fires, helped with search and rescue and was impacted for the rest of my life. It was also handy that my graduate work was all in trying to make sense of the different glaciations the Colorado Rockies had seen. I was working in my field area :)! and, yes that is me in the Smokey the Bear hat.
Since then, I have been a enthusiastic visitor to as many different national parks as I can every year. This would be a good place to start a "how-many-parks-have-you-visited" meme, but I am too lazy to make a list. Buy the pass, even at its newer-higher "Bush era" price increase its still the best deal in America.