We should all listen to our centenarians – including our National Parks

What can you hear in a 100-year-old park?

Quite a lot, it turns out.

On August 16, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service. This new federal bureau would be part of the Department of the Interior and would take responsibility for protecting the 35 (at that time) national parks and monuments.Yosemite National Park

Today there are 58 national parks, covering 84 million acres and they have never been more popular.

National parks are already busy and getting busier, so finding a way to listen means breaking free from the crowds. Such a break may seem impossible, but it is not. Many parks are very large, and yet crowds gather in small areas. Escape crowds by varying the time of your visit to the popular spots and find your own the less popular spots.

Bugling elk, thundering waterfalls, and the crack of lightning are just the beginning of what you might hear at a national park. In fact, the National Park Services names these natural, cultural and historic sounds as “acoustic resources,” and recognizes their powerful effect on provoking the sense of awe that is so much a part of a national park visit.

But dig a bit deeper and collect your own natural sounds. Visit the U.S. National Park Service website for new suggestions on how to awaken your sense of hearing, like:

  • Closing your eyes. Stop and listen to what is around you.
  • Walk and listen.
  • Count sounds.
  • What does a landscape sound like?

Enjoy our 100 year old National Park System with your ears this year.

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