Editor's note: This article was updated on Feb. 26 with the correct identification of Yosemite National Park in the first photo caption.
According to Brides magazine, a recent survey found that 36 percent of couples get engaged December through March. That’s up from 33 percent from 2017, and as that window creeps to a close for 2019, plenty of couples are looking for places to tie the knot. For some, romantic settings in America’s national parks will be on the short list.
That’s just one more reason that Congress should pass legislation to fund the long list of overdue repairs at National Park Service (NPS) sites, a maintenance backlog that stands at around $12 billion. Funding needed repairs—which range from crumbling roads, trails, and buildings to failing water and sewer lines and hazardous electrical systems—will help ensure the parks are safe and accessible for all visitors, including couples tying the knot and their guests.
Through sickness and health, the NPS has held together for 102 years. Now, however, the national parks need some TLC to return them to tip-top shape for the hundreds of millions of visitors expected in the coming years.
And, as with many modern weddings, the price tag for addressing the NPS maintenance backlog is eye popping.
Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, a popular wedding site due to its tree-shrouded outdoor chapel, faces $12.9 million in deferred maintenance, with $4.7 million of that needed for repair of paved roads.
Grand Canyon National Park is essentially an immense natural cathedral, with innumerable ideal spots for saying “I do.” But even with their hearts aflutter couples might think twice about holding their ceremony in a park with $329 million in needed repairs, including leaks in the 16-mile trans-canyon pipeline that supplies the only potable water to the South Rim. Those issues have forced park managers to restrict water use, which could put a damper on the big day.
Couples seeking to etch their union in stone—proverbially, anyway—might consider Badlands National Park, famous for its abundant fossil beds and dramatic sedimentary rock formations that jut skyward. But getting to the church on time could prove challenging due to the $26 million needed to address deteriorating roads and other deferred maintenance at the site.
From people making the biggest commitment of their lives to those seeking to immerse themselves in the recreational, educational, and historical wonders of NPS sites, Americans have expressed their support for fixing the national parks. The Pew Charitable Trusts encourages Congress to pass legislation to give the park service the resources it needs to honor the public’s devotion for generations to come.
Marcia Argust directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks.