Exploring national parks and the great outdoors

Eagle Wealth Management |

This week we’re talking about the great outdoors, especially our national parks.
It might sound a bit odd discussing national parks during winter, but it’s never too early to kick off your summer and fall vacation plans.
Park popularity has soared in recent years, and so have the hassles. It’s not as easy as it once was to just show up and enjoy nature.  Now you need to be prepared for advanced reservations, hikes with user fees, and even some timed entry ticket systems. Visit nps.gov to start researching the park you’re interested in.
It can be difficult, but for many it’s worth it to explore the stunning landscapes, marvel at the diverse wildlife, and enjoy the physical benefits of time spent in the great outdoors.
And if you’re looking for one more reason to visit nature, read on to learn about the mental benefits which are equally important.

The cortisol connection

Have you ever had a stressful day? One that left you tired and irritable? Those feelings are most likely caused by the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol serves an essential purpose in the human body of helping to regulate your mood, motivation, and fear. However, when someone experiences sustained stress, their elevated levels of cortisol may greatly increase their risk of heart disease, depression, and even negatively impact their memory.
Luckily, multiple studies show that connecting with nature for at least 20 minutes each day may be correlated to significantly lower cortisol levels. But the benefits don't stop after 20 minutes. In fact, longer durations spent in a natural environment may further enhance feelings of peace and well-being as well as increased mental performance.2,3

Photo courtesy of Mick Haupt. Yosemite National Park

A thrifty option – especially if you’re a senior

The American National Park system is considered by some to be one of the healthiest and most financially smart ways to vacation. There are currently 425 National Park Sites spread across the United States, encompassing over 85 million acres.
If you’re visiting more than one, be sure to check out the America The Beautiful annual pass for $80.
And if you’re a Senior (62 and over) you’re really in luck. The Lifetime Senior Pass is only $80, or the Annual Senior Pass is $20.  Both are a real steal. Read more on the NPS website.

Stay Local Instead?

Even though locations like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion are the most popular destinations, many areas of our country benefit from smaller parks and nature preserves as well — and without all those crowds.

For those who haven't hiked or camped much, these local areas can be a great way to get started. Even those with more than a few years of national park experience stand to benefit, both physically and mentally, from visiting one of their local wildlife areas.

So, before you pack your bags and load up the camper, do yourself a favor and look into what your community offers. You may discover that one of the best ways to stay happy, healthy, and sharp is closer than you think.

Until next week,
Your Eagle Wealth Team

P.S. – Check out these 59 Fun Facts About Our National Parks.


The Week on Wall Street

The stock market experienced solid gains last week, concluding the trading week on a positive note, thanks to robust corporate reports and favorable inflation news; this propelled the S&P 500 Index to achieve a new record high at the end of the week.

S&P Tops 5,000

At the start of last week's trading, stocks faced downward pressure due to comments by Fed Chair Powell over the weekend, signaling that the Federal Reserve had no immediate plans to initiate interest rate cuts. Consequently, the yield on the two-year U.S. Treasury note, highly influenced by monetary policy, increased to its highest level in two months.6

By the end of trading on Monday, stocks had regained a significant portion of their previous losses. Influencing this market rally were positive corporate earnings reports. This trend continued throughout the week, contributing to the overall market momentum. By Friday, 67% of the companies listed in the S&P 500 had released their Q4 results, and an impressive 77% of those companies exceeded earnings expectations.7

Investors expressed enthusiasm on Friday after a report indicating that December's inflation was lower than initially anticipated. This positive news revitalized buying activity, resulting in the S&P 500 surpassing 5,000 for the first time.8

Economic Strength

The strength of the U.S. economy has come into the spotlight. An analysis conducted by The Wall Street Journal recently proposed that the economy's resilience could be attributed, at least in part, to the productivity driven by the technology sector.9

What might rein in that productivity? One possible influence could be the increase in oil prices witnessed last week. Additionally, shipping companies have been imposing surcharges for several months to mitigate recent conflict, and these charges may contribute to global inflation this year, potentially dampening investor enthusiasm.10


Source: YCharts.com, February 10, 2024. Weekly performance is measured from Monday, February 5, to Friday, February 9.
ROC 5 = the rate of change in the index for the previous 5 trading days.
TR = total return for the index, which includes any dividends as well as any other cash distributions during the period.
Treasury note yield is expressed in basis points.

Any companies mentioned are for informational purposes only, and this should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of their securities. Any investment should be consistent with your objectives, time frame, and risk tolerance


1. NationalParks.org, 2023

2. WebMD.com, 2023

3. OneMedical.com, April 19, 2023

4. NPS.gov, 2023

5. NPS.gov, 2023

6. The Wall Street Journal,February 4, 2024

7. FactSet.com, February 9, 2024

8. CNBC.com, February 9, 2024

9. WSJ.com, February 8, 2024

10. CNBC, February 9, 2024

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