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Travel Stories

Celebrating Women in and Near the Parks

International Women’s Day takes place the first week of March every year, and we decided to celebrate it by sharing with you this collection of stories we’ve written about amazing women living in and near our national parks.

But first, a little history lesson. Three years before Yellowstone became the world’s first national park, the state of Wyoming became the first government in the world to offer women full voting rights. Our hats go off to the legendary saloon keeper who proposed the idea, the legislature that passed the law and the women who boldly assumed positions of power in the state afterwards.

Flash forward to today, and there are amazing women in all kinds of roles, protecting the parks we love, fighting raging wildfires in Yosemite, solving archaeological mysteries in Great Sand Dunes National Park, working to stop mining next to Bears Ears National Monument and more.

Equality State Delivers

Tucked next to the Wind River Range, you’ll find the lively historic town that paved the way for women to receive the right to vote in 1869, making Wyoming the first government in the world to offer women full voting rights. Today, it continues to be filled with trailblazing women.

Audra Draper, the country’s first female master bladesmith, living in Wyoming
Audra Draper, the country’s first female master bladesmith. Photo: Screenshot Wyoming PBS Video

Fire on the Mountain

Shanelle Saunders, acting fire information officer and lead firefighter on the Wawona Engine Module for Yosemite National Park, shares why fires are good for the forest.

Yosemite Firefighters Aaron Ludwig and Shanelle Sanders
Yosemite Firefighters Aaron Ludwig and Shanelle Sanders. Photo: by Kari Greer USFS

Stones that Hold Secrets

Anthropologist Marilyn Martorano discovers a rockin’ viable theory as to what the oddly shaped stones discovered in the sands of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve are.

Marilyn Martorano holding the music stones called Lithophones in Great Sand Dunes National Park
Marilyn Martorano. Photo: by Tori Peglar

Toxic Lands

Growing up, Talia Boyd lived on the Navajo Nation near the Tuba City, Arizona Disposal Site, which was a former uranium mill. She remembers the kids she’d ride the bus with playing on top of the unfenced piles of tailings. Today, she talks about how uranium mining in the West, from Bears Ears to the Grand Canyon, threatens Indigenous and public land.

Talia Boyd
Talia Boyd. Photo: by Raymond Chee

Home Off the Range at Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary

Odessa Oldham, a Navajo, manages the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary with her family on the Wind River Reservation. It’s open to the public and offers an incredible experience to learn about Native American history and wild horses.

Odessa Oldham of the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary in Wyoming
Odessa Oldham. Photo: by Tori Peglar

The Confluence

Jessy Stevenson, who has park service and Blackfeet roots, grew up visiting family on the Blackfeet reservation and also exploring Glacier National Park. Today, Blackfeet Nation and conservation groups are working to protect stolen Badger-Two Medicine lands and restore the Blackfeet right to manage their homeland.

Jessy Stevenson and her dog Naki in the Badger Two-Medicine Area
Jessy Stevenson and her dog Naki in the Badger Two-Medicine Area Photo: Scott Bosse