Using These Books

You don't have to be in a national park to enjoy America's Holy Ground or America's Sacred Sites.

Most of us don’t get to visit our national parks often enough. Our lives are too busy or the parks are too far away or the weather doesn’t suit us. And that’s fine. America’s Holy Ground and America's Sacred Sites help you make the most of the visits you take—and of the times when you’re reminiscing or planning ahead.

Important to remember is that the land all around you has been sacred for a long, long time, longer than you can possibly imagine. This applies even in your own hometown. Native Americans have lived in North America for tens of thousands of years, and their faith practices, legends, and histories are the first human chapters in the stories of America’s national parks. Respect the holy ground of those who preceded you, just as you hope others respect your holy ground. When you learn about Native American religions and traditions, contemplate how they compare and contrast with your own. 

If you’re visiting a national park, read the entry the night before you go or in the morning on which you’re getting ready to visit. Don’t wait until you get into the bustle of the park to orient yourself toward the holy. Later in the day, read the entry again. Then, if you have time and energy, read it that evening to pull everything into perspective.

If you’re visiting a national park with children, read the entry aloud to those able to understand it. It may help them get ready for the cool things they’re going to see, and you may be able to talk through the different themes. Change the music on the radio to something less distracting, or do the opposite: build a national parks playlist, a soundtrack for your visit. Or, consider turning off the radio and all electronics when you enter a national park, especially visually stimulating devices. Incredible things are happening just outside those windows! You might even make a game of being the first to spot some anticipated landmark or resident wildlife.

If you’re reading this at home, read it along with other books about national parks or find videos to see the bigger picture. This book is by no means comprehensive, nor is it meant to be, so make the most of your park experience. You may want to read the entry after you’ve absorbed the magnificent photography and writing in those other books. Take time to think through the questions, to center yourself and see the bigger picture.

If you’re reading with a group, pick a few parks at a time. Allow fifteen to thirty minutes per park, share experiences you’ve had at the different parks, and share your responses to the questions. If you’re really fired up, bring out the photo albums and slideshows!

We hope you find inspiration, motivation, and hope in these pages and everywhere you seek it. Thank you for adding this book to your journey.