Posted by: Kirsten | Monday, 21 July 2008

National Parks: For the Love of Peace (and Quiet)

Glacier National Park

When was the last time you were able to experience complete and total quiet?  Have you ever experienced it?  The places we can go to truly get away from it ALL are disappearing before our very eyes, but there are a few gems of the National Park Service that can still boast of little traffic or loud music.  Take the kids now, and experience this together as a family before it’s too late, and if you don’t think the kids can handle being quiet, maaaaaybe best to wait a little while and not spoil it for everyone else.  😉

If the next few generations don’t value these sorts of places, they’ll be sure to disappear in our lifetime.  Don’t let it happen!


Parke Diem!
— Jon

The Top Five National Park Service units for peace, quiet and natural sounds in the lower 48, according to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees:

  • Great Basin National Park, Nevada. “You can hear the birds’ wings as they fly,” says a retired superintendent of this park. “Come to Great Basin National Park to experience the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm, the darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves,” beckons the park’s Web site.
  • Isle Royale National Park, Michigan. Isle Royale is a remote wilderness park, at least remote for the Eastern half of the country. It is surrounded by the large, clear, cold, and untamed waters of Lake Superior. The land base is 99% designated wilderness, although the majority of the park acreage is in Lake Superior where motorized boating is allowed—requiring some attention to location and timing to find places where the sounds of nature prevail.
  • North Cascades National Park, Washington. Jagged peaks and deep valleys, encompassing 9000 feet of vertical relief, cascading waterfalls, over 300 glaciers, temperate rainforests and ponderosa pine systems make the North Cascades National Park Service Complex scenic, diverse, and a great place to explore. Opportunities for solitude are greatest in the more remote cross-country zones. Overnight recreational use is closely managed to provide a high level of solitude, including permits, designated campsites, and party size limits. As in other parks, ask the rangers for their advice to help plan your trip to the quietest parts of the park.
  • Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana. The battle at Big Hole grew out of a long struggle between non-Indians, hungry for land and gold, and the Nimiipu, or Nez Perce. It is considered a sacred burial ground by the Nez Perce. The battlefield sits in the beautiful U-shaped Big Hole Valley near Wisdom, Montana.
  • Muir Woods National Monument, California. This small park in the greater San Francisco Bay area hosts daily crowds of tour buses from the city who come to enjoy the half-mile path through the redwood forest. But this park has a big commitment to a natural soundscape. When visitors commented that rambunctious kids were the main source of human noise, the parks’s Junior Ranger program was reworked to have quieting exercises and a new poetic treasure hunt that emphasizes listening and appreciating the natural soundscape. The park has also tested quiet days and quiet zones. In December 2007, a Winter Solstice celebration included quiet times and five Quiet Days are planned in 2008.

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