Getting Outside in 2021
Yes, it’s winter.
Yes, it’s cold and snowy.
Yes, we are trying to right ourselves with countless challenges that are coming from all angles.
However, there has been at least one, if not more, constants through all of this: The need to get outside. This need manifests itself in many different ways, such as hiking, bird watching, dog walking, fishing, flying kites, biking, swimming, kayaking and the list goes on and on! There is no wrong answer, only our individual need to see and experience what nature has to offer.
Park Usage in 2020 + 2021
All levels of parks (city, county, state and federal) were used more than ever before in 2020. The numbers are rolling in and are somewhat unbelievable, but in a good way. State Parks have been around for 100 years and their importance, identified by the early visionaries such as Louis Pammel and Thomas MacBride, was demonstrated and reinforced to visitors of all ages, all abilities and all hobbies over and over and over. Whether it was a sunny day, rainy day or just a day, families were able to spend time together doing things that were probably already on a list of things to do, but now they had the time for them. They had time together to enjoy the experience and share the memories. This precious time became even more important throughout the year. Many people had time and a need, and parks offered a safe place to go and spend time together in the outdoors.
Mother Nature has a constant rhythm that reinforces change, whether through the day, the months, the seasons or the year. As Iowa’s response to COVID-19 addressed facilities and gatherings, parks continue to provide an outlet for the mundane, for healthy aspirations and for mental wellness. Based on the popularity of parks demonstrated in 2020, the new norm could be going to the park.
So, for 2021, know that parks are available and accessible. Know that there is always something to do when you are at a park. Find a way to get outside and make memories that didn’t exist before. Regardless of what changes may happen, the parks are there.
See you in the park!
You can find more information on Iowa’s parks at iowadnr.gov.
Named the #5 Best Place to Live in the U.S. and a Top 10 Best Place for Business and Careers, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a city where you can have it all. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.
Whether it’s a morning on the lake or an evening spent exploring Greater Des Moines’ (DSM’s) 800 miles of connected recreational trails, the region has many outdoor options.
Todd Coffelt is chief of the State Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.