#Instameet: National Park Fans to Meet Up

Lovers of the outdoors will say hello to each other at specific parks.

MAVENS OF MARVELS: We're about to make a fairly sound guess here, and we don't think we'll be venturing out onto any limbs when we make it. And it is this: If you come across somebody else in a national park, say, out on a hiking trail or wading in a stream, chances are they, too, are a maven of marvels, a lover of the outdoors, a friend to nature. But you probably don't exchange a word, beyond a passing "hi." They, after all, have their adventures ahead, and you yours, and nobody wants to harsh anyone's mellow while they're out among the gorgeous rocks or pines or cliffs. But the mavens of marvels'll go beyond that simple "hello" on Sunday, April 19 when the first-ever #Instameet takes place in a number of a national parks. What did you just say? Come again? Ah, yes, you're correct: April 19 is a free day at any national parks that normally charge entrance fees, as a part of National Park Week (Saturday, April 18 is also a free day). What is that? You're right again: The Find Your Park promotion, which is a joint venture between the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, just launched as well, so anyone who wants to tell their fun and deep park stories can do so, via the special web site. Pair those things together -- a free day and a new park-oriented happening -- and you have a third thing in the maven-y mix: an #Instameet. 

THE GATHERINGS... will go down from 2 to 4 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, so if you're sticking to a West Coast scene, that's an 11 a.m. start for you. Alcatraz, Golden Gate, and Yosemite are three of the California-based parks participating in the day, if you were planning on visiting.

WHAT IF... people visiting our national parks, which will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, all went beyond the hello? That is, if strangers passing on a trail wanted to hike together or chat for awhile or share a sandwich? Well, we can only imagine that sharing stories of park love will only strengthen their profile and protections down the road even further. Getting united behind our parks, through in-park #Instameets, is a fine first step.

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