You’re on your way to an exciting day at Mt. Rainier National Park. After days of careful planning and expectation, you are finally onward to the relaxation nature provides. In fact — as you drive along the gentle twists of the road — you can already feel your tension melting away into nothingness.
However — upon arrival to the campground — your newfound relaxation disappears and you’re overwhelmed by a Disneyland-Esque ambiance. Somehow, the pristine nature Mt. Rainier promises has been overrun by big food and delivery trucks. A once serene environment is overcome with rampant individuals texting and enjoying unlimited Wi-Fi.
You’re left dazed and confused, wondering what happened to your place of peace. No longer is the park a place of refuge, but, instead, it is a modernized, technology consumed extravaganza.
Unfortunately, this may soon become a dreaded reality for individuals who use nature as an escape route.
The recent proposal — introduced by the Trump Administration — seeks to introduce Wi-Fi, food trucks, and delivery services to national park campgrounds. Such an idea continues to take the internet by storm — with both strong support and opposition across the nation.
While the notion of modernizing the park may seem barbaric to some, the National Park Service contends it will increase revenue and modernize campgrounds.
For instance, the NPS formulated that approximately 9.2 million people stayed in campgrounds last year, and the majority of these individuals were young and diverse. Considering the change in community, the push to modernize does not come as a surprise — especially since food trucks and delivery systems are increasingly popular commodities.
If campgrounds become more user-friendly and promise to provide comfortable amenities, then national parks should — in theory — encourage people to venture into the great outdoors.
Furthermore, the installation of food trucks and Wi-Fi will encourage individuals and families to camp for longer periods of time. If they don’t need to provide their own food or worry about losing touch with the “real” world, then time will be less of an imposition.
However, it is difficult to comprehend modernization in this context — especially since national parks were initially created to protect portions of U.S. land from human impact. Introducing elements of modern reality could jeopardize the true meaning of their implementation.
Opposition to this proposal stems from concern about the influx of people, and inevitably trash, that will ensue upon population-sensitive campgrounds. After all, the presence of food trucks and delivery systems — with readily accessible Wi-Fi — will encourage high consumption rates.
If this proposal becomes commonplace, the true essence of these parks will become obsolete.
The national park camping experience will become nothing more than an opportunity to produce Instagram-worthy posts of food truck discoveries — complete with the trash to prove it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this scenario, it raises several concerns regarding the legitimacy of transforming our nation’s campgrounds into an outdoor buffet.
If the NPS wishes to fulfill their role as guardian of recreational resources, then deliberate collaboration of this proposal must be enacted.