I Can’t Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks

“I really wanted to enjoy this canyon…”

Pete Ryan

The National Park Service turns 99 years old on Tuesday. To celebrate, the Department of the Interior has waived admission fees for all NPS sites for the day. That’s a pretty sweet deal. You should stop reading this right now, call in sick, and enjoy the great outdoors. National parks are great.

But not everyone agrees. Yelp is filled with one- and two-star reviews of America’s most pristine and majestic natural wonders. And honestly, they’re riveting. What makes a national park a one-star destination varies from one reviewer to the next. Maybe the tacos at the visitor center aren’t up to snuff. Maybe it was cloudy. Maybe the park was too cowardly to cut down some trees for spillover parking lots. Maybe it was President Barack Obama’s fault.

Whatever the case, you can thank these people for leaving the campgrounds a little bit less crowded for the rest of us:

Joshua tree:

The desert is too hot. Esther Lee/Flickr

I looked it up, and it’s true—the bees at Joshua Tree National Park are out of control. In 2000, a group of hikers was attacked by a swarm and one man was stung more than 100 times. They tried to get inside their car to escape, but some of the bees followed them inside the car and continued stinging them. Holy crap, bees! If you were stung 100 times by bees at Joshua Tree, you should give it one star. But maybe it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise that the desert gets hot in the summer. This is like downgrading a restaurant because you went there on a hunger strike.

Death Valley:

Pass. John Fowler/Flickr

Pinnacles:

Some rocks. sfbaywalk/Flickr

Yosemite:

And? Aaron & Carol/Flickr

Lassen volcanic:

Where’s the lava? Roy Scribner/Flickr

Crater Lake:

You could see Fantastic Four for the same price. Glenn Scofield Williams/Flickr

And a bonus two-star review of Crater Lake that’s kidding itself about not being a one-star review:

Olympic:

A big rock with glorified weeds. Esther Lee/Flickr

Do not let the National Park Service tell you how many friends you can have.

Grand Canyon:

Few amenities. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr

Carlsbad Caverns:

Only go to this cave if you like caves. Greg Heartsfield/Flickr

Petrified Forest:

The trees are all dead! Park Ranger/Flickr

Yellowstone:

Good luck swimming here. A Davis/Flickr

Badlands:

Bad. Jim Bowen/Flickr

Arches:

One star. Max and Dee Bernt/Flickr

Zion:

Skip the tacos. Cyril Fluck/Flickr

Shenandoah:

Pure government overreach. David McSpadden/Flickr

(N.B.: There is an entire visitor center devoted to the mistreatment of former inhabitants.)

Acadia:

Nice try, try a state park. Robbie Shade/Flickr

Hawai’i Volcanoes:

Still no lava. Ed Dunens/Flickr

Haleakala:

This is it? Joe Parks/Flickr

But enough about the sunrise, already. How were the tacos?

 

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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