There are many ways to delineate my life, but one of my favorites is to draw a bright line at the point I moved next door to a national park. Before then, we had to plan for months and travel on our vacations to the sites that define America. Each visit was cherished and we racked up a good number on our hit list.
Then we changed our zipcode and lifestyle from park chasing to a long, steady relationship with a park. Living next door to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park means we can know a landscape at depths most travelers cannot. We know its seasonal changes. We have secret spots where a particular wildflower blooms each season. We know the rangers and what makes them excited to put on the hat each day. We have an intimacy with the park that we hope to never take for granted.
With that intimacy we become aware of the other secrets and strains of the park. We see the impact of too many visitors cramming into limited spaces on busy summer weekends. We know what stresses the rangers. We have a list of things we would do for the park if we could just wave a magic wand. But we do not possess any magic. We have friends.
The conversations started a couple of years ago. We found others in the community that shared the passion for the park and the concern that the National Park Service alone was not enough to address the growing issues straining park resources. We wanted to befriend the park and be a nonprofit partner to move forward with sustaining the park.
I love that I can visit my Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 365 days a year and pick a different rock or stretch of river to hang out on each time I go. I adore that I am part of a group that will build a network of friends to project this place I call home.
Friends of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @Blackcynfriends
Visit the Friends of Black Canyon website for more information.