National Parks In America

National Parks In America

First on the agenda today. I’ve been lazy. I could say that the laptop I have taken to America with me is crap, and keeps rage quitting every program I used when trying to write for the blog. That would be the truth, however it’s more that I’ve been lazy. Please forgive. Anyway, I’m here now, and today I’m just gonna write. National parks, camping, pretty pictures etc.

I’ll start by setting the tone here with the single statement written in bold lettering from the very front page of the California State Parks brochure I am staring at:

“A GIFT FROM THE PEOPLE, TO THE PEOPLE”

How different an attitude is that to what we get in Australia?!

Two hundred and fifty or so individual campsites stretch from the beach up to a hill in the San Simeon state park. I currently sit in site number 236 with squirrels dashing around my feet and this iPad in my lap; inspired to write by this California state park brochure.

camping-death-valley-usa-california-intents-offroad

We have been on the road for two weeks now, visiting California’s most renowned and beautiful parks and wilderness area’s. They are highly accessible to passenger vehicles like my Nissan Versa rental vehicle (rather like the Australian Pulsar) and the massive RV’s which most American’s choose to tour in. Each and every park caters nicely to hikers as well, with plenty of trails and hike in campsites to get them away from the crowds. Don’t for a second go thinking that the 4wd’s are left out though. The Death Valley national park has epic 3 or 4 day overland treks available through the park, with elevation ranging from -60m to 3100m. Imagine the hill climbs!

Arrive early at the Grand Canyon, or prepare to fight for your views!

Time for some stats. Let’s compare Yosemite; the one of the best known national parks in the USA to Alpine national park, the most significant national park in the Victorian High Country area. Yosemite is a large national park by USA standards at around 302,000 hectares, but Alpine is more than double the size at 646,000 hectares. In 2012 the Alpine national park received 1.3 million visitors. Yosemite?….4.1 million. That’s just under four times more visitors in a park less than half the size. Heck, the city of Perth only received 3.5 million tourists in the same year!

Stunning landscapes in Yosemite

It is interesting to see how the national parks service handle’s it though. First thing is, the fee’s are a little higher. $20 will buy you into the park. That pass is valid for 7 days however, and you could easily spend that much time exploring a place like Yosemite. Camping fee’s are higher yet; $20 a night for a spot to pitch your tent and a fire ring is a damn good find out there.

The rangers are strangely friendly too. When I am approached by a ranger or a campground host in Australia I am either getting in trouble for my camp setup not conforming to the norm, or feeling like I’m in trouble for just being there. When approached by a ranger in a US national park, they are grinning from ear to ear asking if I need any help or would I like to know anything about the park. Their whole focus seems to be to help you appreciate nature and get the most out of your experience whilst educating visitors on how to care for the environment. Far cry from just locking the gates eh?

Wot U know bout dat sunrize?!

In fact, the way American society approaches their problems is very different. When I was in the laundromat I had a chat with a bloke who operated Yosemite search and rescue for most of his life. If a few people die or become seriously injured doing an activity in Australia, that activity will be closed off for safety reasons. When too many people started getting killed, injured or lost in Yosemite, they created a full time Yosemite search and rescue branch. These guys specialized in the most extreme rescues and thirty years ago pioneered the rescue techniques that we only just use today. That is probably one of the things I loved the most about the United States; if they come across a problem, they find a way around it. If there is no way around it, they create one.

And on an unrelated note (yet entirely related because "Merica")....GUNS

And on an unrelated note (yet entirely related because “Merica”)….GUNS

Everyone says America is years ahead of Australia; which can work to our advantage. All we have to do is spend 14 hours in a cramped aircraft seat next to a chronically motion sick obese person to learn the secrets of their national park systems. If a country of over 300 million people can have such a welcoming attitude towards national park visitors; our little country of 23 million should have no problem!

Well, it’s good to be back and writing again. Until next time!

Alex

Alex Garner

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  1. 4WDing Australia
    October 12, 12:21 Reply
    Good to hear you are enjoying yourself, and I loved reading the differences between the 2 country's national parks! How much longer are you guys over there?
    • Alex Garner
      October 13, 05:42 Reply
      We have just returned actually Aaron. Yep we could sure learn a thing or two about how to handle huge national park visitor numbers from them!
  2. Larry Ledford
    October 13, 02:35 Reply
    Alex Great article. Thank you for all of the kind words about us Yanks. We're really happy that you and Alanna enjoyed the trip. Come back soon, you are always welcome. Larry
  3. thekenyancamper
    October 14, 00:03 Reply
    Hi Alex, I really enjoyed this article. Practical advice and the comparisons on The US and AUS camping was cool. I'll be checking out some of your other articles for sure.
    • Alex Garner
      October 14, 07:47 Reply
      Thank you for the feedback :) It's amazing how many differences are between the two countries, even though they are still so similar!

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