the less traveled roads

When it comes to the national parks of the United States, everyone loves to talk about wanting to visit Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Rocky Mountain National Park. At least one of them would be on the average person’s “bucket” list if s/he enjoys nature and natural scenery even in the slightest bit. All that makes sense since Yellowstone was the first national park of the U.S. (and the world), Yosemite is easily accessible in California, and Rocky Mountain is famous… for its rocky mountains. But what about national parks that are lesser known? Are they somehow less worth visiting or exploring?

Take Seoul or Jeju Island in Korea, for example. Ten years ago, Jeju Island was pretty much unknown to most of the non-Korean population, and it was famous only domestically for being the honeymoon destination spot of Korean newlyweds. I knew about it then only because of the Korean dramas I watched alongside my Taiwanese dramas, and because I had a Korean-obsessed friend who studied abroad in Seoul for a semester and traveled around the country every chance she got. Travel magazines and people who make an annual international tri once a year never visited Seoul much then. Now, it’s on the top destinations list for pretty much every travel publication, and people rave about Seoul, its nightlife and shopping scene. Jeju Island is also a destination that tops the well-traveled wander’s list, as so many articles mention it.

I resent judgments that certain national parks, cities, or countries of the world aren’t worth visiting. Some just have yet to be discovered by the rest of the world. And why would you just want to visit places that are oftentimes talked about and constantly visited – so you can be like the rest of the masses who do what “everyone else is doing? Wouldn’t it feel good to go some place that was gorgeous, untouched, where in a decade or two, “everyone” started going to and discussing, and you could say you’d already been there before the local environment started dying due to our carbon footprint and the hoards of followers started coming?

That’s why Grand Teton was so incredible. It’s known for being untouched, with flora and fauna that have continued to exist for the last thousands of years because of lesser human foot and car traffic. It’s what makes the place special, and it’s also a reason Glacier National Park is so spectacular (even though global warming is causing the glaciers to slowly melt away permanently, but that’s another story for another day).

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