2021 saw nearly 4 million visitors to the Tetons, with Yellowstone breaking that record in recent years. This year has felt equally as busy. I'm sad to say my most recent trip to the park was discouraging. I am faced with the conundrum of sharing my favorite places with the world, while wanting to keep them secret and thereby protect them as long as I reasonably can. Yet, I am as free to visit these places as anyone else right? Do I stop sharing the locations I love and simply chalk up the spots as "local" and "nearby"?
I have hesitated writing this post for a week now. Though the views and sights I saw Saturday evening were spectacular as always, my trip was met with immense traffic, and a noticeable change in park policy, or rather a cracking down on previous looser policy. I was stopped by a park ranger, lights flashing, as I was parked on the side of a road east of Mormon Row. I was told parking on the side of the road in non-designated parking in and near the park is not allowed and I could be given a ticket for doing so. Only last year I, and many others had done so to capture pictures of animals and the shots of the "right" angle of the mountains. Perhaps this crackdown is only at the height of the summer season, and the off-seasons remain more relaxed. Or perhaps this has always been a thing, and only now I have been confronted with that fact. I don't know.
People are wonderful beings. Truly, humanity is a remarkable thing. The fact is, there are a lot of people in this world, and many of them enjoy visiting beautiful places. The "great" age of exploration of the past is behind us as it seems every spot has been explored, mapped, and visited. There are still secret, unknown, and fairly untouched places. The question is, should we visit those places? Share those places? I'm torn by this every time I write, snap a photo, and paint my favorite places. I can only hope that others who will inevitably visit will treat the land and life with the utmost respect and care.
That's all I have to say for now, felt like getting this off my chest. Do with it what you will...
Enjoy a few shots from the Tetons