“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” — John Muir
Nature appeals to human emotion in unique and inexplicable ways. It has inspired great writing, like the works of John Muir, an early advocate of conservationism. It has inspired magnificent art, gorgeous music, and the most striking architecture in the world.
The natural world also has long been a comfort to mourners. Nature is therapeutic. Human ashes have been scattered across mountain tops, canyons, forests, oceans, and beaches. It’s a common practice at many national parks in the United States.
The National Park System is currently celebrating its Centennial. In honor of that and Earth Day, let’s take a look at some of the beautiful parks that would make an idyllic location for the scattering of a loved one’s ashes.
It should be noted that while most national parks allow for the spreading of ashes, the rules and regulations vary by state. Most require applying in advance to obtain a permit to spread ashes and have varying requirements of where ashes can be scattered. It’s best to check with the National Park Service to find out more about each individual park’s policies.
You’ll probably see some familiar places on this list, as well as somelesser-knownn ones. Let’s take a trip to some awe-inspiring landscapes that might serve as a truly peaceful resting place.
It’s easy to visualize the giant sequoia trees that adorn the parks. Two majestic parks merged in the 1940s, and are presently located in California at the southern part of the Sierra Nevada. Home to the largest tree on the planet, the park itself is a testament to the lasting beauty of nature.
2. Crater Lake
Located in Oregon, Crater Lake is famous for its impressive giant lake in its crater. The crater was formed by a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Out of the violent eruption, the deep blue lake developed. The once-isolated park now attracts more than 500,000 people a year.
Don’t be fooled by the name. The beauty of this national park isn’t as traditional as the two before on the list. The Badlands is admirable in its own, unique way. The Badlands are filled with rocky, eroded formations thousands of years in the making. These formations provide visitors with breathtaking scenery. Guests are encouraged to take advantage of the isolation to peer into the night sky. The park offers a viewing program that allows you to gaze into thousands of stars — and on some evenings, part of the majestic Milky Way is visible.
4. Death Valley
The national park is well-known for being one of the hottest and driest places on the planet. Much like the Badlands, it’s known for its extreme landscape. It’s a place that demands respect and awe. Not only does Mother Nature give the park imposing rock formations, she also gifts this location with some of the most majestic sunsets imaginable.
Haleakala is another park on the list that is forged by volcanoes. It’s located on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian Island chain. The park also is one of the more unique ones. It’s filled with some rare species — some that only exist in this national park. The park offers two distinct regions: a mountainous region and a beautiful coastal one. Both have their own picturesque views of the tropical paradise.
Sure, this park consists of lovely forests and several inland lakes — but the big thing here is the uniquely stunning sand dune formations along the Lake Michigan coastline. Need convincing? The park was voted as the Most Beautiful Place in America by Good Morning America. The coastline in the summer is almost as perfect as it gets and ranks as my personal favorite on the list.
7. Grand Canyon
Pretty obvious, right? Honestly, how could it not make the list? The water-carved canyons of this beautiful park are some of the most iconic in the world. It is a memorizing and genuinely inspiring place. It’s no wonder that more than 5 million people visited in 2015 alone. As Teddy Roosevelt put it, it’s “…absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.”
There can be many reasons for scattering ashes in a national park. It might have been a meaningful childhood vacation locale, or perhaps existed on the departed’s list of places to visit. No matter the reason, we should appreciate these powerful landscapes and those who are inspired to use them as a final resting place.
If you could choose any national park to have your ashes scattered, which one would it be? Share by commenting below!