National Park Week is fast approaching — running from April 18-26. This special time of year sees the National Park Foundation partnering with folks like you and me to celebrate our national treasures.
Under normal circumstances, visiting a national park would be a great way to show your love for our public lands. But these aren’t normal circumstances. The coronavirus has ground travel to a halt, and the national parks have been no exception. While many national parks remain open in some capacity, our ability to travel to them has been severely limited by the pandemic’s spread.
In spite of COVID-19, there are still ways you can support the national park’s charity — the National Park Foundation — and the parks themselves during these unprecedented times. While some of these suggestions will support all of the national parks, this post specifically talks about ways you can help Joshua Tree National Park.
Is Joshua Tree National Park open?
While many national parks remain open in a limited capacity, Joshua Tree is unfortunately not one of them. The park and all its facilities are currently completely closed to visitors.
This is terribly sad because Joshua Tree is truly in a class of its own within our national park system. A melting pot for two desert ecosystems, Joshua Tree National Park, is an otherworldly place that defies the imagination. From its magnificent trails to its namesake trees, the park never disappoints.
While we recommend visiting Joshua Tree as soon as it reopens, you can tour it virtually in the meantime.
How can you support Joshua Tree National Park right now?
National Park Week will occur as scheduled — but in a much more limited way. While some parks are allowing limited visits, Joshua Tree is restricted to virtual tours only. However, you can still show your love to Joshua Tree by giving to the national park’s charity, scheduling a virtual field trip for a group of students, or even joining a digital scavenger hunt in the park.
National parks usually stamp a souvenir passport for you when you visit. Since that’s not possible right now, Joshua Tree is virtually stamping passports for folks who visit online. Since you’re probably homeschooling the kids currently, you can add a virtual tour of Joshua Tree to the curriculum. After all, what kid doesn’t love a fun passport stamp?
What else can you do for Joshua Tree during National Park Week?
Our national parks depend on volunteers. While most parks aren’t able to use volunteers at the moment, they will surely need help once they reopen. National Park Week is a great time for you and your family to reflect on ways you might explore volunteering at a national park or public land near you. For example, when parks reopen, you could volunteer to help clean trails or guide tours.
What else is happening during National Park Week?
The national parks are putting on an array of activities each day of the week, and most of these activities are conducted virtually.
National Parks Week features theme days — military Monday, transportation Tuesday, and throwback Thursday are a few examples. Throwback Thursday is a day devoted to the history of the national park system. You can even join in the fun by sharing an old photo you may have from a visit to a national park. The theme days and the photos could also be a great day to share the history of Joshua Tree National Park with others on social media.
Saturday, April 25, 2020, is ParkRx Day. This special day is the day the National Park Service encourages us all to get outside — in a way that is safe and follows the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for social distancing and safety. Even if that just means playing ball in your backyard, be sure to get out for a few minutes or even a few hours!
National Park Week might be unfolding in a different way this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree is currently open to online visitors, the national park’s charity is still accepting donations, and most of us are itching for a change of pace. National Park Week could be just the ticket for you and the family to inject a little fun into social isolation.
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