NPX films feature young, culturally diverse Americans

forging powerful relationships in the national parks.



Fifteen years ago, Juan Martinez, an at-risk teenager from south-central Los Angeles, stepped off a bus in Grand Teton National Park and saw the stars for the first time in his life. The experience inspired him to connect more diverse and urban youth to nature, and in the process, he met Vanessa Torres, a park ranger, and fell in love all over again. This debut film of NPX's 10-part series reveals the compelling journey that led Juan to the Tetons, to Vanessa, and to his renewed vision of the American Dream: one that blooms out of love, inclusion, and our living, breathing national parks. For more information about the series, visit To help make sure the next 9 films get made, you can donate easily to our tip jar, below, or make a tax-deductible contribution through the Living GREEN Foundation at



"The last great film set in the Tetons was Shane, a fictional story set against a dramatic mountain backdrop. With Love in the Tetons, the team at National Park Experience has found a true story that is as heart-warming and compelling as the scenery. This is a high-quality documentary that packs a wonderful and powerful message into less than ten minutes—a remarkable achievement." --  Dayton Duncan, Writer/Producer, The National Parks: America's Best Idea

"This is a beautifully shot and realized film about love in all its manifestations. It wonderfully reminds of the birthright that the National Parks are for all of us, that they are healing places that give each person a profound and spiritually satisfying 'ownership' in the best idea this country has had since its founding. Here the American dream is writ large in mountains and rivers, sunsets and blooming flowers: that we are all equal and equally blessed with the majesty of Nature preserved for everybody and for all time in our National Parks." -- Ken Burns, Filmmaker, The National Parks: America's Best Idea

"Amy Marquis and Dana Romanoff have taken their storytelling skills from print to film, and the results are incredible. Love in the Tetons is the perfect introduction to the next generation of park advocates." -- Scott Kirkwood, Editor in Chief, National Parks Magazine

"Pairing the national parks with emotional personal stories like this is a great way to remind us all of the treasures we have available to us. For free." -- Pam Huling, COO, Blue Chalk Media

If you have any questions about a screenings or know of a good opportunity to get this in front of a great audience, let us know! And enjoy our outtakes below.

Fun times with #juanessa13 in Grand Teton National Park! We pulled these scenes from our debut film, "Love in the Tetons." 




Within the sacred walls of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, two young sisters, Tonisha and Tonielle Draper, learn about their Navajo culture and history. Above the rim, the girls compete in “royalty” pageants by singing songs in Navajo. But throughout the region, Navajo culture is fading. Beginning in the 1890s, native children were ripped out of their homes and forced into boarding schools in an effort to assimilate Indian tribes into the “American way of life.” Today, elders have less cultural knowledge to  pass down to youth, and fewer than half of the country’s Navajo children entering school know their native language. This makes the Drapers’ story especially compelling. While their lives reflect many of the familiar aspects of a modern American family, they keep close ties to the land and work hard to teach their children the Navajo Way. This film illustrates the sacredness of a people and a place, the effort to define identities in both modern and traditional worlds, and the movement to honor Navajo culture for generations to come—all while reminding viewers of the critical role national parks play in preserving our country’s greatest stories, cultures, and landscapes.

A Navajo family balances modern life with the traditional "Navajo Way," teaching their children their language, culture, and ceremony within the sacred walls of Canyon de Chelly National Monument. 



A glimpse of our NPX shoots in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Summer 2015.





The world came into focus for the first time for Kelly Mitchell on one starry night in the Grand Canyon. Kelly is visually impaired as a result of a genetic disorder that causes the scarring of tissues over her cornea. But in the absence of light pollution, she finally got to experience the magic of a night sky at the age of 19. 

Kelly was one of five visually impaired students rafting through the Grand Canyon in 2009, capturing scientific data alongside five sighted students on an expedition led by No Barriers Youth (NBY) and Grand Canyon Youth (GCY). Five years later on the same expedition, 19-year-old Tim Connors participated in the same expedition after he’d spent a year in the hospital fighting cancer that stole his eyesight and left his body weak and atrophied. On the last day, he was faced with a daunting nine-mile hike out of the canyon. It took 14 grueling hours to reach the rim, but he did it.

Tim and Kelly’s stories are just two of dozens of powerful transformations that unfold every summer in Grand Canyon National Park, thanks to NBY and GCY’s annual “Leading the Way” program. This July, in celebration of the National Parks Service’s 100-year anniversary, the filmmakers at National Park Experience (NPX) will focus their lenses on a new set of students: Twenty blind, visually impaired, and sighted teenagers navigating the Colorado River and its surrounding landscapes together, thanks to scholarships from NPS’s Natural Sounds and Nigh Skies Division.

Over the course of 12 days, the students will journey into the heart of the Grand Canyon, participate in data collection for the NPS’s Natural Sounds Program, learn about career opportunities with NPS, and hone their leadership skills. At the end of the expedition, students will emerge as visionaries ready to face personal and global barriers with passion and perseverance, inspired and equipped to be the next generation of national park ambassadors.

This short film, the third in the NPX series, will capture those transformations, dive into the meaning and importance of the students’ experiences, and draw on the powerful universal themes to which any viewer can relate—even those who have never stepped foot near the Colorado River. We hope to send a message to young people of all backgrounds that they have a place in the national parks and a voice in preserving them for younger generations to come.