What America’s National Parklands Taught My Three Boys About Their Country

A Michigan Teacher Wanted His Sons to Roam the Nation's Expanses, Grasp Its Opportunities, and Understand Its Injustices

Last August, my sons and I paddled canoes through the Missouri River Breaks National Monument in eastern Montana. The Breaks is remote country, a prairie river cutting through coulees and badlands, relatively unchanged since Lewis and Clark passed through more than 200 years ago.

For three days, we encountered no one. Rattlesnakes slipped across the trails. A dust storm whooshed into camp one night and seasoned the spaghetti with grit. We glided past badgers, bighorn sheep, prairie dog towns, bald eagles, and abandoned homesteads.

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