July, August, and Winter

According to the second episode of The National Parks: America's Best Idea, that's how the first U.S. soldiers charged with protecting Yellowstone described its seasons. Apparently patrolling two million acres of northwestern Wyoming during the coldest months of the year wasn't exactly a plum assignment. But chasing poachers through waist deep snow probably wouldn't delight many people, then or now.

Thanks to Ken Burns and the recession, the parks have seen their popularity grow dramatically in 2009. The AP recently reported that nationwide attendance is actually at a ten-year high and may well set a new record. While I did some camping and hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon (pictured) last summer, I've only managed to visit a national recreation area and America's first national scenic trail so far this year. Fortunately, I still have three months to explore another corner of our country's remarkable natural landscape. I'm thinking it might be best to go somewhere before the weather gets too frosty however.

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