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National Park Week: The Romance of the National Park System

by Kristin Yantis

It seems very fitting that I’m currently reading National Parks: Summit of Cloud's Rest overlooking Yosemite Valley. The American Experience by Alfred Runte. This week is National Park Week where travelers can experience our country’s national park system for free through April 29.  For many of us, visiting a national park was a right of passage during summer vacation as a kid. I vividly remember trips to Yellowstone National Park where I had the dubious honor of catching more fish than anyone in my family to a trip to Grand Teton National Park where we camped out at Jenny Lake.

As an adult, I’ve had the pleasure of hiking numerous trails in Yosemite, watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon and viewing the wonder of nature erupt at Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. There’s a romance about our national parks and this is most evident in the rustic lines, hewn wood, stone and natural materials found in the grand lodges of the national park system. When opening The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, which is modeled after the grand lodges, I read about architect Robert Reamer whose rustic naturalism of “parkitecture” set the stage for classic lodging experiences. Today, travelers can see how Reamer’s vision came to life when visiting the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, the Awahnee in Yosemite and El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, to name a few.

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