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The Traveler's First "Take Your Family to The National Parks" Essay Contest

copyright Kurt Repanshek

Write an essay, win lodging in a national park. Kurt Repanshek photo of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Today's younger generations will become tomorrow's park stewards. With that in mind, National Parks Traveler wants to hear from youngsters in elementary, middle, and high school on how they view the national parks.

If you've always dreamed of visiting a national park, and wanted to take your family along, here's your opportunity. Three grand-prize winners of the Traveler's first Take Your Family to the National Parks essay contest will win lodging for four members of their family in one of the country's national parks, and some gear to help to help them enjoy the trip.

Entries are being accepted from students in three age brackets: 8-11, 12-15, and 16-18. Essays, which must be solely the work of the participant, will be accepted on-line on this page beginning February 1st. Check back on that date for the submission address. Word limits are 300-500 for the first two age brackets, and up to 700 words for 16-18 year-olds.

Elementary students in the 8-11 age bracket should address this question: "Why are national parks good for kids?"

Middle school students in the 12-15 age bracket should address this question: "If you were to write President Obama telling him why the National Parks should be saved, what would you say and why?"

High school students in the 16-18 age bracket should address this question: "What are the greatest threats to our national parks, and how can they be countered?"

Grand-prize winners, one from each age bracket, will receive:

* The choice of a three-night stay for four members of their family from a range of lodgings in Badlands National Park, Big Bend National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Death Valley National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Mammoth Cave National Park, Olympic National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Shenandoah National Park, and Zion National Park.

Dates are subject to blackout, and transportation to destinations is not provided in this contest but is the responsibility of the students' parents/legal guardians.

* A daypack courtesy of Osprey Packs

* Hiking shoes courtesy of KEEN Footwear

* Water bottles courtesy of Cascade Designs

* Annual Park pass courtesy of National Parks Conservation Association

Runners-up in each age bracket will receive:

* DVD of Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan's The National Parks: America's Best Idea courtesy of National Parks Conservation Association

* Autographed copy of photographer Ian Shive's book, The National Park's, Our American Landscape

* Collection of national park maps from National Geographic Maps

For all the details, go to this page.

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What a great idea.

Now we need a contest for adults as well.

Danny Bernstein

My son would say from Highway 12 with binoculars!? But since he is 6 he is too young to write this essay.

This sounds great! Now we just need to get it out to the kids!! I'm sending it to all the teachers I know!

Awesome idea! I'll spread the word as much as I can. :)

Awesome idea! Letting my grand-daughters know!

So, how do we send in the essays? Do we mail them, or email them?

Anonymous, if you click on the following link, there's a post that outlines the rules and an email address for submitting essays.


In short, essays should be sent to [email protected] .

The age bracket of the student MUST be in the subject line, and at the bottom of the essay the student should list their top three choices of park destinations from those offered. That way we can resolve any ties that arise from grand-prize winners wishing to visit the same park. In the event of a tie, a blind drawing will determine the winners' choice of destinations.

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