Visitors viewing moose

Visitors viewing a moose in Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: NPS/Jeremy Schmidt

Move over, Disney World: From liberal Democrats to Tea Party Republicans, Americans are united when it comes to valuing nature and our national parks, a new survey reveals.

I remember vividly my son’s reply to a question I posed after a family vacation in central Florida when he was seven. We’d made the requisite visit to Disney World, then spent an afternoon canoeing through the subtropical greenery of Wekiwa Springs State Park just north of Orlando, where a $15 boat rental got us close to egrets, herons and even alligators on a 2-hour paddle along the lazy Wekiva River.

“Which did you like better, Disney World or our canoe trip?” I queried, figured his answer would be a no-brainer—of course he’d choose the theme park.

“Hmmm,” he pondered. “I really couldn’t say. I like them both the same!”

He’s now 17, and no longer ambivalent: he’ll take a wilderness backpacking trip, or a genuine nature encounter of any kind, over a contrived amusement park, as would the rest of my family.

And so, apparently, would most Americans.

Rodale News reported on a survey recently conducted by The Nature Conservancy that utilized two polling firms – one Democrat and one Republican – to assess registered voters’ views on conservation and natural resource protection.

The results revealed that 3 out of 4 Americans would rather vacation in a national park than at a standard tourist hotspot such as a theme park or packaged beach resort.

Compare these two options:

Disney's Wilderness Lodge - Silver Creek Springs Pool

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Silver Creek Springs Pool. Photo credit: jared422_80 [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: by
 NPS/Jim Peaco


That finding is in keeping with the widespread unity on the subject of environmental protection that the survey found – 4 out of 5 Americans regardless of party affiliation feel it is their duty to care for the environment. Voters even concurred on the importance of paying more to preserve natural resources, with 83 percent indicating they were willing to pay higher taxes to protect land, water, and wildlife habitats where they live.

Mount Gould from Grinnell Glacier Trail

Mount Gould from Grinnell Glacier Trail. By Distress.bark [CC BY 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Here at Nat Hab, we’ve long known that our national parks offer one of the world’s best settings for exploring nature. Check out our small-group national park tours to the hidden reaches of Yellowstone, the canyons of the American Southwest, and the wilderness of Alaska. Imagine watching wild buffalo roam, or wolves hunting against the wintry backdrop of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. Envision the thrill of watching grizzlies capture salmon in their jaws at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. Picture yourself standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon as the sun stains the mile-deep layers of rock burnt orange. Contemplate how fresh that mountain air smells in the flower-filled meadows of Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Come discover real nature with us as we celebrate our national parks! Like historian and filmmaker Ken Burns — and most of our country’s citizens — we agree that they are “America’s Best Idea”!

Applauding the patriotism of conservation,