Our annual fall essay contest invites nonfiction submissions of up to 1,500 words in the form of autobiographical essay, reportage, profile, memoir, or narrative nonfiction. We seek essays that express a moment of significance — personal transformation, awakening, adventure, exploration, reward, accomplishment, revelation — that is inspired by or set within a park space or public land.
Robby DeGraff shares his personal story about the adventure he and his father had on a road trip out west. A stop at Badlands National Park profoundly changed their lives. Click here to read Robby's poignant essay.
Click here to read Melissa Grego's essay about rock-climbing at Joshua Tree National Park—she gains new perspective during a time of personal and professional turmoil. Melissa writes, "At Joshua Tree, I experienced pain and fear and still reached places I didn’t know existed. I just needed to keep looking at things from different angles and recognize that I was not alone."
Lauren Danner reflects on the formative trips to national parks in the American West that molded her as a young adult; the parks, particularly North Cascades, are a source of constancy and nourishment throughout adulthood. Click here to read.
Banner photo courtesy Lauren Danner.
We're thrilled to share Jill Kolongowski's touching essay about childhood memories and sibling bonds, set on the shores of Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Click the photo or here to read.
In April, we are celebrating the awe we so often feel in nature, on public lands, through a month-long poetry series to coincide with National Poetry Month. Click here to read along throughout the month; we will share the poems, featuring work by twenty-four poets whose work celebrates parks and other public lands.
Our series is edited by Celeste Hackenberg, and features poems by:
- Phillip Bannowsky
- Karen Berry
- Joe Betz
- Gary Bloom
- Jeff Burt
- Gabriella Brand
- Ann DeVilbiss
- Iris Jamahl Dunkle
- Andy Fogle
- J.M. Green
- Mary Christine Kane
- Richard Kempa
- Joshua Lefkowitz
- Jennifer Moore
- Julie Moore
- Kevin Oberlin
- Kristin Rajan
- Thom Schramm
- Marjorie Thomsen
- Kerry Trautman
- Brendan Walsh
- BJ Ward
- Kory Wells
- Tom Zimmerman
We wish to acknowledge our finalists:
- KB Ballentine “Comfort of Solitude”
- George Campbell, “I Walked All Day Upstream”
- Jan Chronister, “Door County”
- Anne E. Johnson “Dead and Alive in Turkey Run”
- Jennifer Lagier “Moonstone Morning”
- Leah Mueller “Glacier”
- Ken Pobo “Climbing a Tithonia”
- Lara Poulton, “Going to the Sun”
- Alexandra Renwick “particles of your mud still flush my veins”
- Elizabeth Spragins “Eventide”
- Mary Ellen Talley “Whistler Campground at Jasper National Park” and “Lake Melakwa, 1973”
- Paul Thiel, “Split Rock”
- Tyson West, “Solstice Skateboarders Around the Salmon Fountain”
We were excited to learn of a unique writing retreat that dovetails our two passions — parks and writing. We invited Jennifer Moss, founder of the Yosemite Writers Retreat, to write a guest post telling our readers more about how her retreat series originated, and what attendees can expect to focus upon as writers. Click here to read.
We're pleased to celebrate the 145th birthday of Yellowstone National Park, America's first national park.
Chris Umpierre spots an injured bison staying strong for its calf, and a host of wildlife that fills him with wonder. Peter W. Fong recalls a summer as a curator at the Madison Museum and a host of fascinating visitors. Read both, and revisit Wendy Johnson's "Two Days in Yellowstone." While on a cross country, she pauses for a quick tour. To read each piece, click on the author's name above.
Banner image: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Thomas Moran, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Stephanie Paterson's moving chronology of many summers spent working at Reid State Park spans from her undergraduate years though completion of her doctorate. Click here to read about her lifelong connection to this remarkable coastal park in Georgetown, Maine.