Thank A Ranger

I received an email from a site user echoing a sentiment I’m hearing often here in 2017:

My fellow co-workers and I are concerned about the future of our national parks — specifically regarding their funding and land protection. We are finding ways/places to donate both our time and money to help preserve and support — do you have any favorites or suggestions?

It feels good to do something, but it’s difficult to feel like you’re doing something tangible. There are indeed big ways to help, like volunteering at a park (Volunteer.gov has current positions). But due to life circumstances, not everyone is able to contribute with major time investments. So, what’s a small, easy thing — doable by anyone — that will make a tangible difference? I created this page for those of you wondering the same thing.

Write a thank you letter

Thank you letterAs national park visitation increases, the job of a park ranger gets tougher and tougher: visitors are upset because the parking lot is full, rangers are stressed because the information desk line stretches out the door, and everyone’s frustrated because no one likes it this way, yet there all we are. It’s draining. And that’s not how a park visit should be.

But before, during, and after these shifts, rangers generally have a few minutes here and there to rest, recover, and regain sanity in their breakroom or office area. How great would it be to fill those rooms with thank you letters?

Parks are important. They change lives. They make a difference. And sometimes — maybe after again telling someone not to approach the bear, or again unclogging the overflowing toilet, or again listening to the complaint about the entrance fee — it’s easy for rangers, maintenance workers, and support staff to forget.

Thank you rangerThink about your favorite national park. Why is it your favorite? What do you appreciate about it most? How has the park changed you? How has it made your life better? When has it taken your breath away or given you goosebumps? How would your life be different if it didn’t exist? Rangers and park staff would love to hear how they are making a difference.

Share those stories. Tell how you feel in a written letter. Don’t send an email or call the park; a letter is personal, tangible, lasting. Write one to your favorite park, or to the next park you’re visiting, or to a park you’ll probably never visit (but are grateful for existing). Write one. Write five. Write fifty. Give park staff the fuel they need to stay motivated and make each visitor’s national park experience a special one. Together, we can brighten thousands of days.

Thank you cardsBelow you’ll find links to the mailing addresses for all national parks, sorted by state. (You can also see a list of all parks alphabetically on my Contact a Park page.) Or, consider hand-delivering your letters on your next park visit.

Alabama

 

Alaska

 

Arizona

 

Arkansas

 

California

 

Colorado

 

Connecticut

Weir Farm

Delaware

First State

Florida

 

Georgia

 

Hawaii

 

Idaho

 

Illinois

 

Indiana

 

Iowa

 

Kansas

 

Kentucky

 

Louisiana

 

Maine

 

Maryland

 

Massachusetts

 

Michigan

 

Minnesota

 

Mississippi

 

Missouri

 

Montana

 

Nebraska

 

Nevada

 

New Hampshire

Saint-Gaudens

New Jersey

 

New Mexico

 

New York

 

North Carolina

 

North Dakota

 

Ohio

 

Oklahoma

 

Oregon

 

Pacific Islands

 

Pennsylvania

 

Puerto Rico

San Juan

Rhode Island

 

South Carolina

 

South Dakota

 

Tennessee

 

Texas

 

Utah

 

Vermont

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller

Virgin Islands

 

Virginia

 

Washington

 

Washington, D.C.

 

West Virginia

 

Wisconsin

 

Wyoming

 

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