Car-free National Parks

“No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs–anything–but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”

Edward Abbey

I know, this is not a popular proposal. But it’s worth a thought.  I am sitting out a snow storm in April, waiting for the storm to move out, so I can ride my bicycle into Yellowstone National Park. It is still winter up here. Nevertheless, the Park Service has opened the roads for bicyclists, two weeks before they open the roads to cars. That’s the one chance to experience the interior of the park on bike before the summer onslaught.

Unfortunately the road to Old Faithful is still closed, due to heavy bear activity. Apparently the grizzlies have come out of hibernation and are munging on bison that have succumbed in the thermal areas to winter starvation.

Later this year, millions of tourists will line the roads and observe wildlife from the safety of their cars. Some will get out and try to ride a bison or get a selfie with a bear cub…

Not the park Ed envisioned.



6 thoughts on “Car-free National Parks

  1. I like this idea. It wouldn’t be popular but I think it would be better for the land and nature is what is important in this situation.

    An easier to implement idea might be limiting the days or weeks that vehicles are allowed to be in the parks.

    • There is a lot that could be done, you are right. It is almost as if some of the parks are used more like drive-throughs than a place to experience wilderness.

  2. Car-free would be ideal, but on the other hand, keeping out the people who aren’t used to the joys of walking in Nature, would have a negative side in that some people, perhaps with small children, might forget the need for wilderness, restoration and conservation altogether.

    I guess one has to find some sort of middle road.

    Limit the number of vehicles (that enter), or days of the week in which they can visit?

    • It’s a tricky subject. And I am familiar with the argument that you won’t appreciate, what they can’t see.

      I believe we need both: parks that are accessible to allow a glimpse into wilderness and areas that are true wildness, meaning no cars, no wildlife management, no services.

      • Of course…..I see what you mean. I suppose i was generalising. Whatever the case, I’m sure people like yourself would have a better overview of what’s best (being in the ‘thick of things’) 🙂

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