We encourage people to get out every day for a breath of fresh air, a walk or a hike. Nature helps us relax and refreshes us. But sometimes, if you can’t get out — for instance when it’s cold — you must look to mental trips instead. For many of us, we escape to nature through books. The Lord of the Rings is a great book series to read when looking for a walk. It’s a fantastic saga all about travel and walking. Reading the journey of the heroes is exciting and engaging, almost like you’re one of the Fellowship. Since 1937, with the publishing of The Hobbit, people have imagined Middle Earth. Today, in addition to imagining the land, you can visit the movie set of Hobbiton by visiting Matamata, New Zealand.
But, for most of us, that trip is out of reach and the National Park System is the best way to see the wilderness. In these cold months, it’s hard to motivate yourself to visit the parks. Sometimes you don’t even want to leave the house! If you like imagining The Lord of the Rings, and love art, you have to check out Dan Bell’s work! Mr. Bell draws maps of real places in the style of Middle Earth. Looking at his maps, even familiar locations seem exotic and new. You can see a video of him drawing here. Or you can look at his shop here. Recently, he was commissioned to create maps of America’s national parks by Backpacker and any cartography or Tolkien fan must see them!
Looking at the beautiful maps recontextualizes our known parks into exotic lands. But, if you have never seen the Redwoods of California, or the Grand Canyon, or Monument Valley, they are alien, breathtaking landscapes. If the idea of visiting a national park doesn’t thrill you, reframe them as Middle Earth but closer to home!