Get Outdoors: Perks of National Parks
Updated: Feb 12
One of our favorite places to hike in Colorado is Cascade Creek Trail and Arapaho Pass Trail which encircle Monarch Lake in the Araphao National Recreation Area. This trail can be hiked in the summer or snow shoed in the winter time.
There is mounting evidence from dozens of researchers that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well being. From a stroll through a local park to a day hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to lower stress, improved attention, better mood, and reduced risk of psychiatric disorders.
And what better place to take in nature than in one of over 400 national parks found within the United States?
Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Services have preserved the natural landscapes of our great nation, making it possible for generations of families, couples, and retirees to explore these stunning landscapes, marvel at the diverse wildlife, and discover the physical benefits of the great outdoors.
But recent research suggests that the mental benefits could be even more important.
The Cortisol Connection
Have you ever had a stressful day? One that left you tired and irritable? Those feelings are most likely caused by the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol serves an essential purpose in the human body of helping to regulate your mood, motivation, and fear. However, when someone experiences sustained stress, their elevated levels of cortisol may greatly increase their risk of heart disease, depression, and even negatively impact their memory.
Luckily, multiple studies show that connecting with nature for at least 20 minutes each day may be correlated to significantly lower cortisol levels. But the benefits don't stop after 20 minutes. In fact, longer durations spent in a natural environment may further enhance feelings of peace and wellbeing as well as increased mental performance.
Your Favorite Annual Access Pass
The American National Park system is considered by some to be one of the healthiest and financially smart ways to vacation. After all, purchasing an annual pass to the National Park gives you access to 423 sites.
Annual Pass - $80
Lifetime Senior Pass - $80
Annual Senior Pass - $20
Lifetime Miliary Pass - Free
Annual Volunteer Pass - Free for any volunteers that have logged 250 hours of service to the parks
You can purchase your pass in person at any national park. You can also buy it online through the USGS store or from REI Co-op. The Recreation.Gov app will help you plan your next adventure, including applying for lotteries, booksing tours, and saving reservation details.
A Prescription for Nature
Even though locations like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Mt. Zion, and Bryce Canyon are the most-popular destinations for travelers, there is benefit in visiting smaller parks and nature preserves as well. For those who haven't hiked or camped much, these local areas can be a great way to get started. Even those with more than a few years of national park experience stand to benefit, both physically and mentally, from visiting one of their local wildlife areas. So, before you pack your bags and load up the camper, do yourself a favor and look into what your home state offers. You may discover that one of the best ways to stay happy, healthy, and sharp is closer than you think.
Jerome and I have made it a priority to spend as much time as reasonably possible outdoors in Colorado. This required years of saving and planning. One of our favorite places to hike in Colorado is Cascade Creek Trail and Arapaho Pass Trail which encircle Monarch Lake in the Araphao National Recreation Area. This trail can be hiked in the summer or snowshoed in the winter time. If you visit the western slopes of Colorado and would like to try this hike, Jerome and I would be pleased to be your guides for the day.
Are you interested in being closer to your favorite National Park or Recreation Area? Consider aligning your living situation or your travel plans more closely with your financial resources. How we spend our money and time is a reflection of our values and priorities.
If you have a net worth over $2 million and need help from a wealth manager, the Peak Wealth Planning team can assist you.
Peak Wealth Planning specializes in helping high-net worth individuals and families plan for the future.
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About the Author
Peter Newman is a Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA) and president of Peak Wealth Planning. He works with individuals nationwide that have accumulated wealth through company stock, ESOP shares, real estate, or running a business. Peter applies his unique background to help clients achieve their specific goals and enjoy peace of mind.
Peak Wealth Planning provides concierge services to meet your wealth management needs. Services include: financial planning, investment management, esop diversification, retirement income, insurance, and estate planning advice. Peak Wealth Planning is a fee-based financial advisor based in Champaign, Illinois, and Fraser, Colorado.