by The Rev. Pam Hyde, Canon for Creation Care
Did you know that there are twenty-four National Park units in Arizona…and you can get into them all for free on Saturday, April 22nd? That Saturday is the first day of National Park Week across the country this year, and the National Park Service is celebrating by waiving all entrance fees to all their units. April 22nd is also Earth Day, which makes it a great day to get outside and enjoy all the natural beauty that Arizona has to offer. So grab a few friends and head to your nearest National Park unit. Better yet, organize a group from your church to go — maybe incorporating a hike or just even a period of silent presence with the natural world — so that you can experience together the wonder of the world God created.
Arizona is one of the states with the largest number of National park units, in part due to our unique landscape features and special natural ecosystems. It has national parks including Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro; national monuments such as Casa Grande Ruins, Chiricahua, Organ Pipe Cactus, and Sunset Crater Volcano; a national historical park (Tumacacori); and two national recreation areas (Lake Powell and Lake Mead). It also boasts a few national historic sites, a couple of national historic trails, and a national memorial. Go to the list and descriptions of National Park units in Arizona on the National Park Service’s website to see everything that Arizona has to offer.
So make your plans now for Earth Day and take the opportunity to see your local natural treasure while it’s free. Or make a real adventure out of it and make the trek to that park farther away that you always wanted to visit! It might just put into perspective what it means to be a citizen of Arizona and a citizen of planet Earth as you marvel at God’s handiwork.