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If you couldn’t tell from this week’s post, my recent trip up the Pikes Peak Cog Railway left me feeling a little conflicted. It feels like they bring more crowds into pristine places; and many of the people visiting don’t seem to be all that interested anyhow.
But for some: these experiences could be what get them excited about exploring.
My piece posed the question:
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I think I arrived at an answer that makes sense to me, but I want to know what you think. In your experience, do tourist attractions in these remote places help or hurt the outdoors, and conservation as a whole?
Let’s get a friendly debate going — key word, friendly. I’ll be here checking in throughout the day and am excited to hear your opinions, and reasoning.
If someone you know would like to add their two cents, send this post their way!
There is always going to be a hike or a climb that is less accessible. It might change over time, but I think there will always be a place to truly get away.
In the meantime, these touristy spots open up places to those who could never have saw then otherwise.
We took my wife's grandmother up the sea to sky gondola in her late 70's and she had a huge group cheering her on as she pushed her walker across the suspension bridge. It's one anecdotal story of course, but for me, that moment made it all make sense. It was a wonderful memory for her and her last true adventure and she loved it.
Nothing is perfect in life, but generally, if you love something, the more others love that same thing means more opportunity for it in the future 😀
Let me get off my soapbox now!
We often take our stressed family on trips to more obvious accessible places locally. Nashville and Williamson County have done an excellent job of creating parks and wildlife sanctuaries among the remaining wilder places. Normally more at home in the Colorado Rockies and Sierra Mountain wilderness we happily accept the trade offs. But these localities prove it's not necessary to completely decimate the wilder places to achieve accessibility.
Okay, I'll bite! I'm easily the grumpiest guy you'll meet on a crowded hike, and in any place where the ease of access to a scenic view is exploited (especially by those in vehicles) I'll be boiling.
This has everything to do with me, of course. It's self-righteous. I've learned enough about myself that, on a recent trip to Colorado, my wife's family made a drive (a drive!) up to the top of Pike's Peak, while I stayed well ensconced at Mueller State Park and did a solo hike to the back country. My wife's family is from Indiana: mountain views are very unique, and there should be some sympathy since a short hike in Mueller was difficult because of the elevation alone. These are fit people, mind you, who care for their body. Still, they don't know how to hike.
I agree with you that the tourist attractions are necessary evils for the conservation experience. They are spaces for those who are either lazy or inexperienced to get a sense of that sublimity that we're all looking for. And perhaps it will pull enough on people to want to continue that.
I have more to say but I hear my children stirring, so I'll just leave this here and come back to see what others have said, later.