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Why America's Best Natural Destinations Matter

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Visiting the Grand Canyon is a common bucket list item, among other National Parks and jaw-dropping natural attractions throughout the United States.

I was lucky enough to take a road trip to Northern Arizona earlier this year with a couple of friends, and none of us had ever been before. Although there is comedic value in three college guys going “Wow,” at the same time looking at the Grand Canyon, thousands of people do so each week. As I’ve lived in four different states and traveled to many more, I’ve seen my fair share of “oohs” and “aahs,” but this was by far the oohest and aahest.

Much of Arizona is mysteriously beautiful as well, including places like Sedona, where the rocks are actually red. It’s not an exaggeration. While I am partial to Arizona, all of America’s 50 states have countless hiking trails and places to simply be in awe of God’s creation. For example, I wrote about rural America earlier this month. One of the many privileges of living in a geographically large country is the wide variety of places to travel to.

While the free market has produced some great attractions, like theme parks or the Las Vegas Strip, the natural wonders are truly what makes America great. They are undoubtedly part of our national identity, which makes the preservation of these sites essential.

Listen, I get it. It’s expensive and tough to travel right now. I’m not suggesting that everyone can and should go on a long-distance road trip or fly from sea to shining sea. However, what’s great about places like the Grand Canyon is that there is something for everybody. My friends and I did not have time to hike, but we were able to go to the different lookout points and into the mini-museum that was part of it. There’s a misconception that you need to be an expert outdoorsman to explore the National Parks, and it’s deeply untrue.

If you’re able to get the gas money, it’s worth it to go visit what’s in your region, because sometimes those are the hidden gems that are right under our noses. When I moved from California, I was in shock about how many places I discovered in the last few months I lived there.

And, as there are growing concerns about crime, visiting a regional or National Park might be the safer option for you and your family. Cities like New York and Chicago are still top tourist destinations, but they’re not for everyone. I generally like my trips to be a time to rest and recharge, and you might be the same way. Peace and quiet are underrated, and many natural sites offer a better opportunity to chill out.

Whether you’re only able to go down to the river across the street or you’re off to Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park, it’s worth it. The natural beauty of this nation is unmistakable, and it’s worth unplugging for a few minutes just to say “Wow,” at the world right before our eyes.

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