Trailblazers in the National Parks | International Women’s Day

The rigid, mountainous landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park, the warm, beaming giants of Sequoia National Park and the wavy, fluid landscapes of Great Sand Dunes National Park are views that we will be able to savor for generations to come. These National Parks wouldn’t be here for us today without the steadfast, leadership and bravery of women. In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought I would recognize a few examples of iconic women who shaped the future of our National Parks forever.

Minerva Hoyt / Joshua Tree National Park, California
Hoyt became mesmerized and passionate about the desert after she moved to Pasadena in the 1890s. She became determined to protect the tree’s perfectly balanced ecosystem, without truly understanding why. In 1930, she continued to lobby the Park Service and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1936, the president relented, and Joshua Tree National Monument was formed, leaving us all a place to admire the desert as Hoyt once did. 

Susan Priscilla Thew / Sequoia National Park, California
Susan Thew felt compelled toward the magnificent trees that towered around her at Sequoia National Park. Threw spent some time educating herself about how she could expand the park by traveling hundreds of miles to take notes and photos of what she saw. She thought that if the American people could see the area’s stunning landscapes, they’d realize the need to preserve them. This created her to write the book, “The Proposed Roosevelt-Sequoia National Park,” which was ultimately showing off the potential of protecting the high sierra. Her tenacious advocacy and creating of this book helped triple the park’s acreage in 1926. 


“If you are weary with the battle, either of business or the greater game of life, and would like to find your way back to sound nerves and a new interest in life, I know of no better place than the wild loveliness of some chosen spot in the High Sierra in which, when you have lost your physical self, you have found your mental and spiritual re-awakening,” she said. 

PEO Sisterhood / Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
Three local chapters of the Philanthropic Educational Organization Sisterhood, an organization to help open doors for women, joined forces to advocate for the protection of the United States’ tallest dunes. The PEO Sisterhood lobbied Colorado’s politicians and encouraged citizens to write letters of support to the state’s congressional delegation. The activists persuaded Rep. George Hardy to plead their case. Eventually, their perseverance paid off. On March 17, 1932, President Herbert Hoover designated the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Thanks to these women, our parks are established, protected, and here for us to explore.

Happy International Women’s Day,
Madison Ford

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