National Parks Cure Melancholy

I don’t have a long, polished post in me for this weekend, so instead of writing something I’m going to share some pictures of national parks.  Over time I would like to profile each park I’ve been to, but for now pictures will suffice.  Whenever I’m sad or just plain grumpy, if I think of the leaping waterfalls of Yosemite, the sublime emptiness of Death Valley, or the convoluted chasms of the Grand Canyon, usually I feel a little better.  I’ll be back next week.  Have a good weekend.

Monument Valley, Navajo Nation (not a national park, but it protects sacred beauty in the same way)

Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley, Alaska

Redwood National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California, looking down Tenaya Canyon from atop Half Dome (taken with a film camera in 2001)


Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Arches National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Death Valley National Park, California

About atomsofthought
Photographer. Traveler. Writer. Reader.

196 Responses to National Parks Cure Melancholy

  1. skippingstones says:

    You take care.

  2. skippingstones says:

    Good – I’m glad you’ll be with your family.

  3. pattisj says:

    Godspeed. Great pix. I never knew there were sand dunes in Colorado!

    • Thank you! I didn’t know about the dunes either until I chanced upon a picture of them in some book. Not only does Colorado have dunes; the dunes it has are the tallest in North America, approaching 800 ft in height! A special circumstance of topography led to their formation: the Rockies trap sand that blows off of the San Juan mountains in eastern Colorado, and over time all of that trapped sand accumulated to form this 40 sq. mile area that looks like the Sahara. The park receives little visitation compared to other parks, so it’s a pretty peaceful place.

  4. Pamanner says:

    wow, gorgeous photos!

  5. EvilPoet says:

    Awesome photos! Safe travels – take good care of yourself.

  6. anda says:

    Thanks for sharing these photos; I almost felt I was at each place and I hope to get to them someday. Lovely. Powerful.

  7. dailydilettantism says:

    Sigh. I couldn’t agree more. Parks are full of soul-healing powers- especially if you have an office job!

  8. In the past three days I’ve learned of the deaths of two friends’ mothers, and this morning I got news that a work colleague had died from a long battle with breast cancer. Yesterday was my last day of teaching, and I had a huge fight with my boyfriend. All I wanted to do was jump in the car and head for Canyonlands and Arches. I saw the title of your post and had to laugh. Glad someone else understands about the magic and healing of our national parks.

    • My condolences to you, your friends, and their families. It’s so true. Grand landscapes have a way of healing us. Life makes more sense in their presence. I hope you get to visit cznyonlands and arches soon. I was thinking that in recent years desert environments have come to lift my spirits better than lush green landacapes.

      By the way, I just finished teaching too. I wonder if the end of the year ever becomes easier. Every year hits me pretty hard that I’ll never see many of my students again. Take care. Best wishes.

  9. I always cried on the last day of school when I had to say goodbye to my students. Some years are easier than others; it all depends on the class. Thanks for your kind words. Much better today after a memorial service and lunch with good friends. Summer vacation is awesome!

    • I’m glad you’re doing better! I apologize for not responding to this sooner.

      Summer IS awesome! But I have the same problem on that last day–it’s hard to say goodbye, especially if you’re moving away for good.

  10. Fantastic photos! You’re boosting national park visits with these posts, you know 🙂

  11. Sarah V. says:

    Beautiful pictures! I couldn’t agree more…nature can help us “put our senses in order” as John Burroughs once said. Congrats on making it to Freshly Pressed!

    • Thank you, Sarah! John Burroughs: I recognize that name but I haven’t read anything by him. I just googled him and found that he’s often placed in the company of Emerson and Muir, both of whom I love. I will check him out.

  12. These are absolutely spectacular photos — I’m so glad you shared this!

    • Thank you, Mikalee :). It came as a bit of a surprise to see all of these comments and visits! I’m in the middle of moving cross-country, and reading these has made the drive quite a bit more pleasant!

  13. That Alaska shot is beautiful (as they all are). Hope it cured your melancholy soul. 🙂

  14. Beautiful. I’ve never been to a national park, but I often visit state and local parks. It’s good for the spirit. 🙂

  15. gabroune says:

    Georgeous photos! I have been to some of these places, now I want to see the others, as well!

    • Thank you! There are so many. The Sand Dunes have only been a park for around ten to fifteen years, I believe. There’s too much to see, right? But that’s as it should be 🙂

  16. Striking photos! I would love to be able to visit each of these parks. The sand dunes sound amazing. : )

    • Many thanks! I hope you get a chance to see them. The sand dunes don’t get the visitation of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, but they’re incredibly accessible, and they’re a pretty reasonable drive from Denver (assuming you spend a couple of nights at or near the dunes).

  17. Wow these photos are breathtaking. I like to delve into my photo albums when Im feeling blue. Makes me feel better. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

    • Thank you, Jennifer. I share your habit. And now that you mention it, for me there’s something even more pacifying about delving into actual, physical photo albums with prints.

  18. vishalt says:

    little pleasures of life,sun set, sun rise, cool breeze and the rain, thankfully still free..

    refreshing post..

    keep it up.

    • Thank you for stopping by and especially for encouraging me. I love your blog and your photos! I admire your talent for the kind of detailed photography that I don’t do so well. 🙂

  19. k8edid says:

    My husband and I took a 3 1/2 week vacation last fall after he retired – The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Badlands, Zion National Park, Devil’s Tower. Such wonderful memories. Our National Parks and monuments are, indeed, some of the most beautiful spots in our country. Thanks for sharing your pics – I’m going to go back and look at some of mine.

    • My pleasure! Thank you for stopping by. Your trip with your husband sounds like the perfect thing to do upon retiring 🙂 In Death Valley I met a couple of retired teachers from the Berkeley area who were touring the parts of California they had never seen. I’ve rarely encountered such relaxed and happy people 🙂

  20. Oh, thank you, I needed that! I hope you are feeling refreshed. The pictures you posted lifted me up. I am looking forward to following your posts!

  21. The beauty of nature is a great cure for grumpiness…..thanks for posting the pictures.

  22. You can feel wilderness while seeing your photos. I wish, I could visit apopular national parc some day.
    Take care!

  23. Anonymous says:

    wow…those pictures are amazing. i don’t currently suffer from melancholy, but i still crave those views. i’ll need to make a trip very soon.

  24. gaycarboys says:

    with these pics you don’t really need words do you? Absolutely gorgeous.

  25. Great photos!

    You are absolutely right in the title of the post – it is enough to walk barefoot in the yard for a couple of minutes to feel a bit less melancholic, just imagine what such beautiful parks can do!

    Thank you!

    • Well said! I think it’s important to remember how therapeutic our immediate surroundings can be. Also, the tactile experience of walking in the grass can be every bit as healing as peering into a gaping canyon.

  26. Lu says:

    Beautiful photos and a great showcase too.. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  27. The pics are beautiful and in a way is a tribute to the piece you wrote in your grandpa.

    • Thank you. That means a lot to me. He engendered in all of us a love for travel and an appreciation of beauty on all scales. Thank you for reading what I wrote about him.

  28. Lafemmeroar says:

    Perfect settings for reflection. I just hope that my reflections cheer me up.

  29. Thanks, those are just stunning and awe inspiring.

  30. GD says:

    Just looking at the Three Brothers in Yosemite from afar is enough to make me feel small and my troubles unimportant.

    My writing blog:

    Thank you for sharing this post, I’m looking forward to more.

    • I agree with you! I worked in Yosemite for a summer while I was in college. Every day after I woke up, I would walk out the door, stare up at Half Dome, then at Yosemite Falls, then wherever my eye wandered, and I would feel exactly that humility you’re talking about. I haven’t been to the park in several years. It’s kind of funny: sometimes the highlight of a trip out to San Francisco or Sacramento will be the view I get of the park through the tiny window of my plane. 🙂

  31. What a beautiful place.

  32. ournote2self says:

    Beautiful pictures! I’m sure it’s even more amazing in person.

  33. annisveggies says:

    What amazing pictures! I wish we had scenery like that in the UK to complement our less dramatic, but very green and pleasant land.

    • Haha, thank you :). I haven’t been to the UK, but I have seen no end of gorgeous pictures of its cities, towns, landmarks, and landscapes–and I hope to eventually see every bit of it in person.

  34. Renee says:

    Great Pictures – Congrats on being FP. I love visiting National Parks and National Monuments. I have three pictures in my living room that I took of Half Dome, Crater Lake & Burney Falls (State Park) that I look at every day before I head out the door – sometimes I will just sit on the couch and just stare at them. Just makes you happy:) Pictures do not do these places justice – so get out an visit your national parks, state parks, city parks. I would hate to see our parks go by the waste side because they are not being used.

    • Thank you, Renee! I feel lucky and overwhelmed. Crater Lake was the first western park I visited, and for that reason (and that it happens to be gorgeous and awe-inspiring) it has a special place in my heart. I love the way you start your days 🙂 Also, I agree with your sentiment about getting out to see our parks–national, state, city. Thank you for stopping by!

  35. good post…good picture…success for all

  36. Barb says:

    You’ve got some GREAT pics here!

  37. GG says:

    Beautiful Pics…

  38. Karyn says:

    Our national parks are treasures that people do not always appreciate. Love the seals in the Redwood National Park photo but all of these are wonderful.

    • Thank you, Karyn. I agree with you. I know (many of) the parks get plenty of visitation, but I wish everyone in the country could see them in all of their sublime beauty. Thank you for stopping by!

  39. trialsinfood says:

    the beauty out there really makes you think how small or insignificant your problems are.

  40. hiit says:

    wow amazing photos!

  41. elenamusic says:

    Great photos. The deserts and the canyons are my favorite.

    • Thank you! You know, growing up I favored lush green landscapes over deserts, but that was before I saw the Grand Canyon and the other parks of the Desert Southwest. There’s something especially humbling about vast desert landscapes. Thank you again for stopping by.

  42. BLaine Robert Parker says:

    Good Pic. s

  43. my0wnrealm says:

    those pictures are incredible!!

  44. These could be in a travel magazine or website or coffee table book. Well done. The Earth is such a miraculous Being. Thanks for not having words this weekend!!! 🙂

  45. Jimmy says:

    My two faves are the Redwood forest and Bryce Canyon. Bryce isn’t anywhere as deep as the Grand Canyon, but there’s something about those hoodoos under snow that makes them sublime. I hope to take my wife out there the next time we get to the west coast!

    • I love both of those parks. I so wish I had the photography skills I would need to convey what it feels like to stand inside a redwood forest beneath those giants. You get this feeling of enormity and deep time, yet it’s such a soft world that it doesn’t intimidate. It welcomes. Just three days ago I watched a superb National Geographic documentary about the redwoods. It came out in conjunction with the magazine issue of 2009 (I think) that featured an great article about them.

  46. Joe Labriola says:

    I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I would like to, but one place I have visited are the Great Sand Dunes national park in Colorado. Absolutely beautiful and awesome if you get a chance to visit!

    • You’re so right. The Great Sand Dunes are beautiful, and they’re far enough off the beaten path that most of the year you can enjoy them in relative solitude. Thank you for commenting!

      • Joe Labriola says:

        Thanks for the pics! I used to have one looking down from the dunes across the valleys for miles, but I can’t find it :/

  47. Consuelo says:

    wow! great pictures! 😀

  48. 48colorrainbow says:

    Have you ever visited Glacier National Park? Of the national parks I have visited, that is the one I am most glad to have seen.

    • I agree with you: Glacier is magical. I went there one summer while I was in college. I took a lot of pictures, but all with a film camera. I would love to return!

  49. Shanene says:

    Great pictures! Of those pictured, I’ve been to Arches and Canyonlands. Loved them both!!! National Parks are such a wonderful thing!

    • I agree wholeheartedly! I hope you’ll forgive me for identifying that picture as Canyonlands National Park instead of Dead Horse State Park (which, as you probably know, is adjacent to the national park). I still think of it as part of “the canyonlands.” 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  50. Congratulations on Fresh Pressed! My phone has been “dwinging” all day, since I subscribed to the comments for this one a while back! Now more dwinging as you respond – you’re going to be busy tonight!!

    • Haha, man oh man. I sure hope you unsubscribed to the comments 🙂 You can measure my typing speed by the rate of dwinging!

      Thank you, Michelle. I’m in the middle of my move to Kentucky. All of this has certainly boosted my mood 🙂 Initially I was positive there was a glitch.

      • Unsubscribe? Now you tell me…

        I’ve been working on Saturday’s Query page, so I’m right here with you. Dwing, gmail, delete.

        However, I’ve hit a few interesting new places tonight, as well. Whenever you said you liked the sight, I checked it out. I have some similar tastes, and I’ve met some of the most interesting people here. (I simply love Wallswithdoors!) I’m at Vishal’s Photolog right now – just amazing! I take photos, but he’s a photographer.

        Travel safe, good luck with the move! I had Tennessee in my head, but I went to school with a girl from Kentucky, so I can remember that. She had an adorable accent. You should pick you up one while you’re there.

      • Hahaha! Is that what my computer is doing, dwinging? Holy cow. I feel like I just stumbled into the greatest party…
        Kentucky is beautiful. I looked at a cabin there last summer but alas, someone else bought it first. Will you be teaching there?

        • You’re so right! Kentucky is gorgeous, and the drive from Dallas is a delight. Traffic is light and the scenery is brilliant. And yes, I can’t wait to begin teaching here. “Dwinging” is a perfect word for the sound my computer and other sometimes annoying electronic devices make 🙂

  51. Cant wait to visit those places. Thanks for posting them 🙂 Great pictures too.

  52. tschitschi says:

    indeed a good way of brightening up your day 🙂

  53. Wow, these pictures are amazing! I can’t wait to read your follow up posts. 😀

  54. Jordan says:

    WOW! Great pictures. If America did anything right, it was the national parks program. I’ve been to quite a few, including many of the ones pictured. So few people know about the wonders we have in our own back yard!

    Pure beauty, in my opinion, will always defeat melancholy. And that’s what nature is: pure beauty!

    Great post! Keep it up.
    View my latest post here

  55. sketchjay says:

    Ahhhh… you are so right. Looking at these photos is a tonic in itself!

  56. Allison Huyett says:

    Wow! I’m with you there. Thanks a million.

  57. Nice pictures. It’s good to get out and see the beauty thats around us. Keep enjoying your travels and keep clicking away to show us your great images. I do a lot of travelling and I like to see pictures so I can plan ahead.


  58. leadinglight says:

    Such beautiful sights. I love the fact that each park is unique in its beauty.

  59. Your pictures are just beautiful

  60. These are stunning pictures. I live in the Canadian arctic and work for the Territorial Parks Division in Nunavut. National and territorial parks are such a treasure no matter where you go. It’s important to make it known to your governments that they are worthy of protection! I just read an article that many US National Parks are losing their funding and in danger of closing or worse – destruction by those seeking their resources. Your pictures are a stunning example of just why these areas deserve our protection. Speak out and save our parks!

    • That’s a part of Canada I would love to visit. I’m guessing it’s somewhat hard to reach, which is probably as it should be. I agree with you on the importance of protecting our parks and making sure people are aware of what it takes to do so. So many Americans visit our parks, preserves, refuges, and monuments, but it’s easy for us to forget that they’ll stay healthy only as long as we make them a priority.

  61. thedogwoof says:

    Sigh… What a piece of heaven. I just came back from Colorado. It’s a beautiful place. I live in the piney woods of East Texas, and while we’re one of the prettier portions of Texas (minus the hill country), Texas doesn’t have the glorious beauty of mountains and canyons.

    Thanks for giving me a piece of heaven. Have a great weekend!

    • I’m glad to have done so! I grew up in Austin, traveled all through the hill country, and made sojourns east, too, where those pine forests are. That part of state really is gorgeous, and it’s something a lot of people don’t realize Texas has. I’m still angry at myself for not having gone to Big Bend or the Guadalupe Mountains. They’re just so far!!!

  62. abhi says:

    Vow those pics are just out of this world!

  63. fey's diary says:

    California had it all..

  64. teriost says:

    Off to Yosemite this weekend – thanks for the teasers. Such great pictures!

  65. azrul90 says:

    nice & great pictures

  66. mkeeffer says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. What a terrific reminder of the importance of our parks!

  67. achilliad says:

    You see? Nature is just plain “awesome”! OMG. I got scared when I saw the purepower of Niagra Falls!
    I hope to see all of the places in your pictures (and not faint by their sight, an fall down into the canyons, lol)
    Props on the Freshly Pictured Press.
    Jimi the Achilliad

    • Thanks Jimi. I know what you mean. The first really big waterfalls I saw were in Yellowstone. They were drawn like a white curtain across a cliff, and from a distance they seemed about as harmless. But up close they were both captivating and terrifying. Now, Niagara is something else entirely 🙂

  68. sheokhanda says:

    beautiful pics… and very informative….

  69. Patti Ross says:

    Thanks for sharing these great pictures! And I agree: How can one not feel better in the face of such beauty and grandeur. Congrats on being FPed.

  70. Anonymous says:

    its see good ideas friend!

  71. CONIEFOX says:

    Such beautiful sights!Worth traveling! I hope can travel there one day!!!

  72. richannkur says:

    Splendid nature…..

  73. 7des7iny says:

    Loved the orange sky in the first picture. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for saying so! I cheated a bit. Monument Valley isn’t a national park (and is the sovereign territory of the Navajo Nation), but I couldn’t resist including it. 🙂

  74. Nice pictures! 🙂

  75. matthewhyde says:

    Beautiful photographs. The US is so fortunate to have such a range of landscapes, absolutely breathtaking….

  76. milezaway says:

    Great photos, I have started posting pictures of trips I have made on my blog (currently Margarita) its amazing the different landscapes in the pictures you posted though with the Alaska one being my fav, I love it when you are up a mountain above the cloud line it looks amazing.

    • Oh yeah! That is an amazing feeling. Alaska is something special. I wish I could get up there more often than the one time I went 🙂 I’ll definitely check out your blog! I look forward to seeing your pictures. Thank you for stopping by!

  77. ceceliafutch says:

    These glorious photos brought back so many memories of my childhood. Every summer Mom and Dad would take us camping in a national park. One summer we would go east, the next summer we would go west. I’ve experienced many of the places you have photographed. No matter how often we went, or how many photos I see, I never tire of our parks. This is a beautiful post. Merely viewing a photograph calms the spirit. We must start visiting our parks again. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Cecilia. The parks have the same effect on me. I was with my family the first time I saw most of these parks. Some I saw on trips when I was kid. I traveled to others with my family when I was an adult. The first park I ever went to was Crater Lake, with my parents, my grandparents, and an uncle who lives out west. Every park I’ve seen since then, even when I was alone, has brought back memories of that first magical encounter with jaw-dropping beauty and immensity. The parks (and nature in generall) have a way of changing how you think about and experience the world. Sounds like you had an enriching childhood and cool parents!

  78. eytliew says:

    Breathtaking. Amazing stuff!!!!

  79. zookyshirts says:

    Beautiful photos — and a great thought about nature picking your spirits up. We really do have some phenomenal national parks in the United States. Here in Maryland, I typically visit state parks much more often than national ones. But they do the trick, too. After seeing your photos, I want to take a huge road trip! Thanks for sharing this — the photos alone are a way to pick the spirits up.

    • Thank you. I’m glad the pictures had the intended effect 🙂 I haven’t spent much time in Maryland, but I know that you have some beautiful state parks there. I’ve found that the most efficient National Parks road trip entails flying to Las Vegas, then taking in Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks. It all depends on the kind of experience you want. For anyone who wants to hike in depth in each park, this trip would require several weeks. For those who like to drive through them relatively quickly, a couple of weeks would probably suffice. Driving time from each of these parks to the next is around three hours. You could throw in the Grand Canyon and a lot of other sights, too.

      The Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier corridor is a great one also.

      Thank you again for commenting!

  80. abhi says:

    spectacular pictures. Too good.

  81. Müller says:

    It’s very nice! Beautiful pictures!

  82. Lee Oliveira says:

    What a beautiful pictures… Love the second one!
    lee x

  83. mydeardiary9 says:

    Beautiful snapshots!!
    Travelling is always so inspiring and enriching, isn’t it? I take hours admiring the beauty of Nature’s creations every time I am in such a place,… and parks are a haven! They always welcome all our moods 😉

    Like zookyshirts says, the pictures make us feel good already! 🙂

  84. Wow! These pictures are National Geographic worthy! I hope you do a series on the parks…it has always been a dream of mine to visit all of them….probably not going to happen…oh well, now I’m melancholy and need to look at your pics again!

    • Haha, I appreciate it. I share your goal of seeing them all. How many do we have now? 50+? Then add in the national monuments and the preserves and we’re up in the thousands. Seeing them all is a daunting endeavor, but one well worth pursuing 🙂

  85. Great pictures and list! It’s great that you’re going off with family. Have a blast!

    • I’m excited. We’ve been scattered about the country for several years. We’re a tight family, so it will be nice to be in one place again. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  86. jalumiba says:

    Stunning, powerful photos. Thanks for sharing!

  87. fitrianto says:

    wow, the photos are very beautiful and amazing … I like your photos .

  88. beckyyk says:

    Pictures are great. Have a nice weekend!

  89. Great pictures. For all those who choose to leave the country to vacation, this is a wonderful way to show us the beauty we have in America.

    God has truly blessed us.

    • Thank you for pointing that out. I love to travel abroad, but I’m equally enamored of traveling around my own country. I think we sometimes forget how well traveled many Americans are. Even if we haven’t all gone abroad, many of us have seen a gigantic chunk of a whole continent simply going from state to state.

  90. wow, these are SOME pictures, awesome. must have been perfect to see that with your own eyes. congrats to that, i am really jelaous. mother nature sure is powerfull

  91. David Chung says:

    Great Pictures. I’m headed to Yosemite this Saturday. Thanks for sharing.

  92. Xenia Nova says:

    Gorgeous images! Best of luck to you!

  93. Pawpro says:

    Enjoyed your photos. If you’re a runner, you should try long distance relay races such as American Odyssey Relay. Great experience, great people, great fun.

  94. thebigbookofdating says:

    These are magnificent! The vast spaces and beauty made me go all funny inside (:

  95. ChefDad says:

    These are great photos–I’m pretty sure I took one from the same spot in canyonlands!

  96. J-Dub says:

    awesome photos of some pretty amazing places! thanks for sharing!

  97. Pingback: Falling in Love with Mountains, Pebbles, and Waterfalls: Our Relationships with Place « Atoms of Thought

  98. Pingback: Hometown Tourist | Let me ask you this…

  99. rf401 says:

    With images like that I am not suprised that they lift the spirits!

    Spectacular stuff


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