Parks and Recreation has only been off the air for five years, but what a five years it has been. When the NBC sitcom about a tireless, obsessive, irrepressibly kind public servant—Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope—and her beloved colleagues aired its finale, on February 24, 2015, America had a very different collective self-image. A global network of Ebola fighters had just won a tough, worrisome but nonetheless decisive battle against that deadly virus. After a devastating summer of police violence, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement at least seemed poised to effect positive change. As pop culture was making unprecedented strides in trans representation, an unstoppable queer rights movement was about to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Our first black President still had two years left in his second term, and Donald Trump was four months away from officially kicking off his campaign. The idea that
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Airbnb and Vrbo; Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, most international borders are still closed for tourism, but here is some good news for Americans: we live in an exceptionally beautiful country. From coast to coast (plus Hawaii and Alaska), the National Park Service protects over 50 million acres of land, all of which are open for public recreation.
Among the parks, you can find exceptional wonders from the red rock mesas of Zion National Park in Utah to the snow-capped peaks of Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee.
Anytime is a good time to pay a visit to a national park, but the pandemic is inspiring even more travelers to use this time to get acquainted with our national backyard, especially since being outdoors in wide-open spaces, as