"I bless Yosemite for waking me up to the natural wonders but also for waking me up to my own history. I was able to reclaim an entire trip that I had put away and lost. I could feel my dad's hand in mine as we walked and the hike we took to the little waterfall." (Ken Burns)
Vernal Falls, Yosemite circa 1889 by Thomas Hill courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosemite_National_Park.
After three intense days of filming his documentary Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit, Ken Burns found himself restless and unable to sleep. That night he had a vivid memory of visiting another National Park, Shenandoah in Virginia, with his father when his mother was dying of cancer. The trip was a chance to realize nature's beauty, to lift his demoralized spirits. It was also a chance to reconnect with his father. "I bless Yosemite for waking me up to the natural wonders but also for waking me up to my own history. I was able to reclaim an entire trip that I had put away and lost. I could feel my dad's hand in mine as we walked and the hike we took to the little waterfall" (http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2016/04/14/ken-burns-national-parks-americas-best-idea/82499256/).
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia courtesy http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/929/overrides/shenandoah-sunlight-fog_92947_600x450.jpg.
Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit focusses on the fact that "National Parks have a way of connecting people not just to their soil, but to their soul." While all the National Parks are beautiful, people who have visited more than one tend to have a favourite. It's not just what people see in the Parks, but who they experience it with. Writer Dayton Duncan, who has visited all 59 National Parks, prefers National Glacier Park, which he visited with his future wife.
Glacier Park, Montana courtesy
There is something revolutionary about America's National Parks. As Duncan explains: "National Parks are the Declaration of Independence expressed on the landscape. We were the first nation in the history of mankind to say that the most special places should be set aside not for royalty, not for the rich, not for the well-connected, but for everyone and for all time."
Since 1904, 13.5 billion visitors have flocked to America's National Park sites. As of 2014, over 3.8 million people have visited Yosemite alone. The beauty of Yosemite is its giant sequoias. For someone who has never visited a National Park, Ken Burns recommends starting with the original one, Yellowstone, for its "geysers, thermal pools, waterfalls, and wildlife".
Yellowstone, Wyoming courtesy http://cdn.doityourselfrv.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Yellowstone-glory-pool.jpg.
However, Burns points out that Americans don't have to travel very far to find a Park: every state has a National Park or a national monument except Delaware.