My Park Story - Love: Emily Rose Ashton & Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Have you fallen in love with a place? Today's National Park Week theme is Love. Connecting with a place will have you falling in love with that area and will have you coming back year after year to experience that love. Today's story is by Xplorer Maps Communications & Media Manager Emily Rose. Read her story of falling in love with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and how her perspective of place changed after interacting in a new way.


I didn’t know I was in love with national parks until I was in my mid-twenties, even after a lifetime spent traveling and adventuring through their boundaries. Even after living a mile from the most visited national park in the world. Even after living in a campground my entire life. I didn’t know I was in love with national parks until I volunteered my own mind and time to immerse myself in the Great Smoky Mountains. To take the endeavor of exploration into my own hands, with my own map and my own two feet. The experience of trusting myself and trusting my decisions in the outdoors has been the building blocks of my love story with national parks. So, even after a lifetime of experiences in national parks, the way to fall in love with your experiences is to do them on your own terms, in your own ways.