(NewsNation) — A trip to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful is an Independence Day weekend tradition for many, and a welcomed sight as most of the park reopened to visitors for the July Fourth holiday weekend.
Just weeks ago, record flooding closed America’s first national park — forcing 10,000 visitors to leave — as rainfall, water, rocks and mudslides washed out roads and bridges.
“Nobody has seen anything like this since 1918 and even then, the flooding and the CFS levels have never been higher, even double or triple than what they’ve been,” said Nolan Darr, a guide for Yellowstone Journeys.
Yellowstone isn’t the only park dealing with the impacts of Mother Nature. Officials have warned that rising temperatures related to climate change could reach nearly all 423 national parks, affecting everything from the loss of ice glaciers to wildfires and higher sea levels.
A 2018 study from IOP Science found that temperatures in national parks are rising at twice the national rate, causing physical and ecological changes to our historical landmarks.
“The videos that we’re seeing, the things that we’re seeing, just from employees and people that are inside, these are things that are not making it to the public, but I’m going. ‘Whoa, it’s really intense in there,’” said Darcy Lagana, Owner of Yellowstone Teton Tours.
Extreme heat has been hitting Joshua Tree National Park in California, where the average annual temperature has increased by three degrees Fahrenheit over the last century, leading to more wildfires and a dip in certain species populations. A 2020 fire in the nearby Mojave National Preserve killed an estimated 1.3 million trees.
Yosemite National Park has been closed to visitors several times in recent years because of deadly wildfires or dangerous air quality from smoke. The average temperature in the park could spike as high as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.
In Florida, the Everglades is under attack from rising water levels, which have hurt the critical coastal mangroves.
From coast to coast, and in America’s heartland, experts say the wrath of climate change is taking a toll on our national treasures, making the future of parks uncertain — and weekends like this, even more of a treat to visit our beautiful landmarks, including Yellowstone.
“It is such a privilege to be able to do just that, be out at a national park every single day. Given the circumstances, things will have to change, almost definitely and that includes for basically everybody,” Darr said.
The government is doing what it can to help parks fight back. Former President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law in 2020, allotting $1.3 billion per year for five years to deferred maintenance projects in our national parks — and just last year, in the federal infrastructure bill that President Biden signed, the National Park Service will get more than $1.7 billion to help improve roads and bridges, modernize transportation systems and support climate change efforts.