On a cool, crisp April afternoon my lovely family and I pulled up to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado. We were staying in Estes Park for a family vacation, and we had heard that the national park was simply majestic, so we knew we had to pay a visit.
As we rolled through the beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery, on our way to the park, we were already getting glimpses of life near the august mountain range. The flora and fauna seemed to be on full display, wrapped in the grandiose arms of the towering peaks.
I had no idea how much an entrance fee into a national park typically was, but we were pleasantly surprised when the park ranger at the front gate told us that it was National Park Week and entrance was free! When we drove through the entrance, we were immediately greeted by nearly a dozen elk, casually strolling through an adjacent field, like something from a nature film. Yes, we instinctively realized we were in a special place.
Thanks to National Park Week, we returned to Rocky Mountain National Park nearly every day. We trekked through trails, up the sides of mountains, and all around the beautiful, nearly-frozen lakes. It was an experience none of us have been able to forget – our first true experience in a national park.
Then came another mountain range, another sublime park experience, another adventure. Last November my wife, Brandi, and I had the opportunity to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. While not as imposingly majestic as the Rockies, the Smoky Mountains had an undeniable charm that was reflected all the more by the dazzling fall colors and dense, smoky fog around the mountain range.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park experience hit a little closer to home, bringing back feelings of woodworking and finely crafted walking sticks. While hiking through the many trails available in the park, we came across numerous saplings with familiar-sounding names like sassafras, ironwood, and sweet gum. The names were familiar because some of Brazos Walking Sticks’ top-selling walking sticks are crafted from sustainably harvested sassafras, ironwood, and sweet gum saplings. Seeing the saplings out in nature made me appreciative of what Brazos is about, bringing The Feel of Nature to so many people across the country.
My two favorite experiences at national parks – at the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – revolved around nature and family. Those two things we hold dear at Brazos Walking Sticks.