The religious and spiritual appeal of national parks

Authored by: Thomas S. Bremer

The Routledge Handbook of Religious and Spiritual Tourism

Print publication date:  July  2021
Online publication date:  July  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367191955
eBook ISBN: 9780429201011
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



In the final decade of the nineteenth century, writer Olin Wheeler joined the growing number of tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park, where he experienced the spiritual powers that had made the park a premier pilgrimage destination for Gilded Age travelers. He later recalled a particular moment of spiritual awakening as he sat in the dawn light on the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River:

Grand and glorious pageant, vision mighty and eternal; for unnumbered aeons thou hast been slowly, through the attritive powers given thee by Nature’s God, working out thy destiny. With a perseverance sublime, by the power of torrent and beat of wave, the rush of the avalanche, the grinding of the glacier, the hot breath of the geyser, the subtle uplifting of the frost, the downpouring from the clouds; by all the powers of earth and sky, the wind and hail, the lightning’s glare, the thunder’s crash, hast thou worked onward, channeling the mountains, sculpturing the hills, painting the cliffs, that man, the noblest of God’s creations, might stand before thee in awe and rapture, and feel himself uplifted to that spirit land from whence he came.

(Wheeler 1893: 82)

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.