Visit a national park. You’ll love it!


Ben Riley

Ben Riley

America the beautiful.

Few know this as much as these West Ottawans, who have traveled to a variety of National Parks. From sea to shining sea, there seems to be a common denominator throughout: the sheer vastness and beauty of America’s wilderness captivates all who enter. Here are some of their stories. 

Ben Riley



Jr. Eleanor Ervine just recently visited Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, and experienced the sunrise over the tops of the huge mesas. “As it shone on the red rock, a golden ambiance surrounded us. The trail led us through a variety of terrain and elevation. Everywhere we looked there was a view to enjoy. The end of the trail was steep and physically demanding, but the view from the summit was breathtaking and made it so worth it,” said Ervine. 


Sr. Alex Spilotro went to Lake Clark National Park in Alaska and had a close encounter with a protective mother grizzly. Spilotro and his family were fishing for salmon when their guide gestured toward a mother

Alex Spilotro

bear prowling the shore. Spilotro was awestruck and describes his experience as “so insane to see an actual bear in nature, it’s something I’ll never forget.” Spilotro’s family weren’t the only ones fishing, as the bear submerged herself underwater and popped back up with a plump salmon to feed her three cubs. Out of nowhere, a smaller male appeared from the underbrush, near where the mother and cubs were feasting. The momma clearly saw him as a threat and charged towards him. “The male ran away from the charging mom, towards us, and we all got really scared. But the male ended up stopping about 15 yards away from us, and our guide was able to scare it off. It was truly an amazing experience,” said Spilotro. Few people get the privilege of witnessing the circle of life play out right before their eyes, especially an event of this magnitude.



Anna Krupka

Sr. Anna Krupka describes her sunset drive in Saguaro National Park in Arizona as “seriously like something you would see out of a movie.” As she and her father were driving, they saw a man kneeling on the ground using a selfie stick out in front of him as a flashlight. “We parked and got out to see what he was looking at. Just three feet from his selfie stick was a rattlesnake. We probably just watched it move around for fifteen minutes, mesmerized by how it moved and how docile it was,” said Krupka.


Instructor Lindsay Walcott has visited too many National Parks to count. She recommends that everyone should “get a passport book (all funds support the national park) and you get stamps at each visitor center.” These passports are a fun way to track which parks you have been to, and the visitor centers are always informative and offer some great insight as it pertains to your specific trip. 


Sr. Sarah Moraw describes her treacherous hike up the Bee Hive in Acadia National Park in Maine. The rock formation was 500 feet tall, and Moraw had to climb almost a mile on iron rungs and chains to prevent hikers from falling off the exposed cliff. “The locals there consider it to be parallel to a lat machine and stair climber in nature. For my five-year-old self, I was in my natural habitat, swinging from rung to rung. We scrambled to the top with the parents nowhere in sight,” said Moraw. Moraw also adds that “each National Park brings its own special features and adventures,” and hopes to visit them all someday. 


Americans are so fortunate to have public land that is left wild and untamed. National Parks are for all to enjoy and showcase the beauty of our country. Do yourself a favor and visit a couple.