For the past few weeks, we’ve been dying to share a travel secret. And, today is the day we finally get to announce that we’re headed to Olympic National Park as part of the American Latino Expedition! Here’s why that’s so exciting for us and for other travelers of color.
African Americans & Latinos Aren’t Visiting The National Parks
A couple months ago, we read a great article about Yosemite Park Ranger Shelton Johnson and his efforts to highlight the stories of the African-American troops known as the Buffalo Soldiers. The article mentioned that while America is growing increasingly diverse, African American and Latinos “remain underrepresented in visits to the [now 401] National Park Service (NPS) properties.” For example, at Yosemite, only about 1% of the park visitors are African-American and 9% Latino.
Park Ranger Johnson is a talented storyteller who’s been featured on Oprah, CNN, public radio, the Ken Burns documentary, and dozens of other media outlets. His work has helped raise awareness to the cultural history available in the national parks, as well as underline the need to address the diversity gap in the visitor demographic. But Ranger Johnson’s amazing accounts of the Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite are not the only cultural gems of the national parks.
According to the Cultural Resources Diversity Initiative website, “the National Park System celebrates the nation’s cultural diversity by commemorating American Indians, Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives, African Americans, Spanish pioneers, and European and Asian immigrants who were integral to the development of our country… The National Park System has been established to preserve and tell the legacy of individuals, historical, natural and cultural places/events that are worthy of the concern and attention of our generation and future generations. They represent the grand diversity that is America.”
The @American_Latino 2013 Expedition
Just a few weeks after learning how committed the National Park Service is to cultural diversity — in their selection of new sites, research conducted, services offered and community outreach efforts — we discovered they were accepting applications for the @American_Latino Expedition, a new project designed to raise awareness about Latino heritage in the park system. , In partnership with the American Latino Heritage Fund, the National Park Service will send three teams of travelers on a “nature + culture” journey through one of three national parks, and provide a platform to share their adventures with readers across the country.
Crystal and I loved the idea of the expedition and we figured that our favorite Latina travel bloggers would as well. So, we joined up with Ana Serafin (Traveling Latina) and Carol Cain (Girl Gone Travel) to submit an application. And, guess what? Our team, the Travelistas in Nature, was chosen to participate!!! OMG! We’re all so giddy with excitement!
In just over a month, we are headed to the Pacific Northwest for a 4-day adventure to Olympic National Park!! Not only do we get to explore the natural landscapes in one of the most beautiful parts of the US, but the expedition sponsors REI and ARAMARK Parks & Destinations will outfit us with the gear we need and provide us with great accommodations.
Despite how much we time we spent camping as kids and traveling as adults, we have only visited a handful of the National Park Service properties. So, it’s definitely time to see what we’ve been missing. And, along the way, we’ll be documenting our adventures on our respective websites as well as the American Latino Expedition blog. We can’t wait!!
For More Information About The @American_Latino Expedition
- Meet the 3 participating teams
- Read the ALEx13 Blog
- Follow the #ALEx13 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
- Learn about other National Park Service Latino Heritage projects