Parklife by Sean Carroll

Issue 61

For some years I have been spending more of my leisure time visiting and documenting federal and state park and forest land, places in America where the public is allowed and encouraged to visit the ‘wilderness’. Since my family never really went on the traditional cross-country car trip when I was a kid, I’ve been making various journeys to some of the places I missed; the places, near and far, that I used to spot in my father’s tattered road atlas. As an adult, my nostalgic interest in exploring parks and forests has evolved into a fascination with the quirky way that Americans vacation in nature. The parks, which obviously set aside dramatic natural wonders for our enjoyment, also generally include modern conveniences like benches for rest, restrooms, concession stands, campgrounds, marinas, and hotels. While there as visitors, we walk along specially marked paths through the wilderness and snap photos from designated vista points. Life in public parks is a curious arrangement of government workers, generic signage, busy parking lots, sunburned kids, and frustrated parents. As I’ve been participating this rite of American vacationing, I’ve become amused and enamored by how we interact with the wild and the infrastructure we put in place to do so. Parklife aims to capture it in all of its oddity.
 

Sean Carroll lives and works in New York City.
To view more of Sean's work, please visit his website.

You can purchase a photograph by Sean Carroll from the Fraction Editions.

  Park Map, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA 

Park Map, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA 

  Vernal Falls Overlook, Yosemite National Park, CA 

Vernal Falls Overlook, Yosemite National Park, CA 

  Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

  Visitors, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

Visitors, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

  Flag, Woodland Valley State Campground, Catskill Park, NY 

Flag, Woodland Valley State Campground, Catskill Park, NY 

  Restricted, Adirondack Park, NY 

Restricted, Adirondack Park, NY 

  Flagpole, Bear Lake State Park, ID 

Flagpole, Bear Lake State Park, ID 

  Snack Bar, Robert Moses State Park, NY 

Snack Bar, Robert Moses State Park, NY 

  River Swimmers, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

River Swimmers, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

  Grazing Buck, Yosemite National Park, CA 

Grazing Buck, Yosemite National Park, CA 

  Canoe in River, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ 

Canoe in River, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ 

  No Swimming, Yellowstone National Park, WY

No Swimming, Yellowstone National Park, WY

  Boardwalk, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

Boardwalk, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

  Riverside Campsite, Delaware River Valley, NY 

Riverside Campsite, Delaware River Valley, NY 

  Upper Mesa Falls Overlook, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, ID 

Upper Mesa Falls Overlook, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, ID 

  Canoes and Van, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA 

Canoes and Van, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA 

  Latrines, Gallatin National Forest, MT 

Latrines, Gallatin National Forest, MT 

  Historical Marker, Grand Teton National Park, WY 

Historical Marker, Grand Teton National Park, WY 

  Tent, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

Tent, Yellowstone National Park, WY 

  Toilet, Woodland Valley State Campground, NY 

Toilet, Woodland Valley State Campground, NY