Teddy Roosevelt once said that the National Parks were Ken Burns’ best documentary, and if you can’t trust a man who brought his entire library on safari with him, then what’s the world come to? There are 59 National Parks across this great land, 42 of which are in Alaska. These vast swathes of nature are never to be developed or lived on or used as test sites for nuclear weapons. We’re all familiar with Denali and Yellowstone and Yosemite, but there are some lesser-known Parks that may be worth your time.
There’s MacArthur’s Elbow, in Northern Alaska. The most pristine of any Park, MacArthur’s unsullied nature may have something to do with the fact that it’s completely inaccessible ten months out of the year and on fire the other two. Expeditions to map the area have failed as recently as 2004: it’s just unbelievably far away and cold, and full of bears and wolves and wendigos.
Redwood Park in California is celebrating its third gorilla-attack free week, and the FBI is close to figuring out who let all the gorillas loose.
The Blacklands in South Dakota or maybe Montana or possibly Wyoming is America’s vaguest National Park: no one remembers going, but the bumper sticker on the Volvo got there somehow. There are animals, and wilderness. Standard four-season configuration. Parts of the park have trees, but other parts have no trees at all; the park rangers are all named John. No last name, just John.
The Starbucks on Melrose Avenue at Stanley Boulevard in Los Angeles is the smallest National park, but it has the cleanest bathrooms; it is also the only National Park that offers macchiatos. The location was granted Park status by Ronald Reagan as a favor to MCA’s Lew Wasserman, whose nephew owned the property.
In Texas, Lesser Scrubby Brush Park is the only place in the world to view the Lesser Scrubby Brush. It is uninteresting vegetation. There are also armadillos, most of whom have leprosy, which wouldn’t be a problem if the armadillos weren’t so damned horny. Best to avoid this park and drive another hour to the next town, Cascabel. There’s a joint there called Miss Rosa’s; she’ll take good care of you.
Meatloaf’s Hotel Room Park, Varied. Due to a paperwork mix-up, any hotel room occupied by Meatloaf is a national park. It’s a silly error, but like getting rid of the penny, there’s just no public effort to fix the problem. Of course, as a National Park, the room must legally be open for tours and hiking during the day; Meatloaf will be there, and he will have made no effort whatsoever towards closing his robe.