Over the course of the last year, I have lamented the lack of travel. I like to travel. Sometimes our trips are to exotic locations like Kauai or Bermuda or Banff, and sometimes they are to a less dramatic location but still one we desired to see.
My husband and I have talked about when and where we would like to go this year. We decided that travel abroad was still not an option for us. Some of our “bucket” list locations were possible, however.
As a formally trained environmental educator and self proclaimed conservationist and naturalist, the national parks have always held my interest. A grad course in environmental history was eye-opening as it explored the development of the park system, the conflicts with Native Americans, and some of the problems with natural resources, over a century ago such as the Hetch Hetchy controversy. If you do not know what happened there, you might want to click on the link and read about it – water resources are precious and have implications for all of us.
Our travels to national parks, thus far, have included Haleakala, Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain, White Sands, and others. It is especially stimulating to me to go to places with scenery and geological histories different that our own here in the upper mid-west. That is one of the reasons why, when I started to look at where we could travel, I discounted parks closer to home like Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota.
When I thought about what I’d really like to see and where I’d like to go – Arizona was on the top of my list. As a young girl, growing up in Western New York, I always wanted to live in Arizona! Now, I do not recall the reasons why but am pretty sure it had to do with the desert and cacti! Outside of visiting Joshua Tree National Park in 2018, I’ve never been to the desert despite educating school aged students about the plants that grow there. I am fascinated by the Saguaro Cactus and its long life, adaptations to gather and store water, and ability to attract nighttime pollinators. Saguaros only grow in the Sonoran Desert and there is a National Park named for them. So, I set my sights on visiting Arizona and possibly Saguaro National Park sometime this year.
Currently, I am planning this trip for October. When I stopped to think about it, I could not imagine going all that way and not seeing the Grand Canyon! My husband visited the canyon as a child and I have never been. It made sense to look into reservations for visiting one of the most popular destinations in the National Park system first. I did that and was able to secure reservations at the El Tovar Hotel which sits right on the South Rim. This historic hotel will be our base for hiking and sight seeing during our 2-3 day stay in the canyon. I cannot tell you how excited I am.
With the most popular destination’s reservations secured, my next step will be to decide where to go and stay before or after our trip to the canyon. I am considering the Red Rock area of Sedona, Petrified Forest National Park, and Saguaro National Park. Arizona is a large state, so I am considering the drive time to each of these places, as well as what they have to offer along the way.
It’s been a “mood lifter” to get a trip planned for this fall. I’m really looking forward to it!