ENP 31 | Rock The Park: Behind the Scenes with Jack Steward
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  • ENP 31 Rock The Park: Behind the Scenes with Jack Steward
    06/22/2020
    Rock the Park logo.
    Jack Steward and Colton Smith at the EMMYs - photo by Jack Steward. Jack Steward and Colton Smith at the EMMYs - photo by Jack Steward.
    Jack Steward and Colton Smith at Carlsbad Caverns - photo by Rock the Park. Jack and Colton outside of Jewel Cave at Carlsbad Caverns - photo by Rock the Park. These two were almost trapped due to a flash flood!
    What makes the Emmy Award-winning show Rock The Park must-see tv? Bryan goes behind the scenes with Jack Steward, the show's co-creator and co-host, to find out how Rock The Park captures friendship and adventure for the camera. Then, Jack answers listener questions, including one from a 7-year-old fan.
     

    From Cohorts To Rock The Park Co-Hosts

    "Colton and I met in second grade when he moved to Minneapolis from Chicago," says Jack, referring to his Rock the Park co-conspirator Colton Smith. While their friendship blossomed immediately, the impetus for their hit show took years to develop. Jack headed to Montana to pursue a degree in photojournalism and explore the mountains he'd fallen in love with as a kid. Eventually, those same mountains got the best of Colton, too, and he joined Jack in Missoula. The pair have been filming their adventures ever since.
     

    National Parks Boast Beauty, Danger

    With approximately 60 of 62 national parks checked off the bucket list (and countless national park sites visited as well), Rock The Park offers a virtual travelogue for every type of enthusiast. As entertaining as each episode is, Jack and Colton make clear the realities of park life, readily acknowledging that nature always has the upper hand and must be respected. "It's a humbling situation," Jack says of the sometimes dangerous endeavors adding, "It's actually one of the things that makes the experience so life-changing and worthwhile."
     
    Surfing in Olympic National Park - photo by Jack Steward. Surfing in Olympic National Park - photo by Rock the Park.
     
    Chugach National Forest, Alaska - photo by Rock the Park. Tony Smith, ENP's director of photography, Jack Steward, Matt Standal, ENP's camera operator, and Colton Smith in Chugach National Forest, AK - photo by Rock the Park.
     
    Jack Steward and Colton Smith at Glacier National Park - photo by Rock the Park. Jack and Colton visit Glacier National Park as college students - photo by Rock the Park.

    Friends And Favorite National Parks

    For Jack, naming his favorite park comes with caveats. Glacier National Park will always hold a special place in his heart as its home, the park that started he and Colton on their Emmy Award-winning adventure. And it isn't easy to top memories of the family trip to Yellowstone National Park. That said, Jack puts the desert at the top of his current list for its varied landscape and endless menu of activities. "Right now, my absolute favorite park is Death Valley National Park."

    But the essential ingredient for an epic park trip isn't the location or the season or the activities; it's the people. Intimate moments with family, friends, and even strangers form the foundation of Jack's prized park memories - and Rock The Park's endearing appeal. "There are just so many of those moments. I think that also speaks to the character of our parks."
     
    Jack Steward, Jack Hannah and Colton Smith at Glacier National Park - photo by Rock the Park. Colton Smith, Jack Hanna and Jack Steward, at Glacier National Park - photo by Rock the Park.
     
    Death Valley - photo by Rock the Park.Jack Steward in Death Valley - photo by Rock the Park.
     
    Glacier National Park - photo by Rock the Park.Jack and Colton in Glacier National Park - photo by Rock the Park.

    QUOTES

    “What we had going for us is a show about the national parks that was really full of energy. Also, we weren't experts, we still really aren't...So there's kind of this charm to us that we were just so earnest and so willing to give things a try.” [08:16]

    “One thing that we want people to know is that nature can be very dangerous. You're being very vulnerable. And it's a humbling situation...And it's actually one of the things that makes the experience so life-changing and worthwhile.” [13:15]

    “I just want to say it's okay to have your preferences...I have favorites and I have my preferences on the types of places I like to go to, but they are all national parks and they're protected for a reason. So they're all special in their unique way. [18:39]

    “That is, really to me, what's special about these places is they just breed these beautiful moments and friendships.” [33:20]
     
    Hawaii - photo by Rock the Park.Jack Steward in Hawaii - photo by Rock the Park.
    Yellowstone National Park - photo by Rock the Park.Yellowstone throwback - photo by Rock the Park.
    Gold Butte - photo by Rock the Park.Gold Butte - photo by Rock the Park.
    Jack Steward with his mother after receiving an EMMY award - photo by Jack Steward.Jack Steward with his mother after receiving an EMMY award - photo by Jack Steward.

    Discussion includes the following:

    [00:58] - Origins story: Jack Stewart and Colton Smith friendship; Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, WY.
    [06:05] - Rock The Parks from idea to episodes; ENP Isle Royale
    [09:24] Rock The Park’s formula for adventure
    [10:50] Big Cypress National Preserve; Rock The Park s6 ep21
    [11:55] Adventure, beauty, and danger; Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park; Carlsbad Caverns National Park
    [16:08] People make the park experience; Everglades National Park
    [18:30] Sentimental park favorites: Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Death Valley National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Virgin Islands National Park, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
    [21:07] Rock The Park’s Daytime Emmy Award moments
    [23:20] Listener questions: Rock The Park’s future plans
    [25:50] Listener questions: Park tallies and what’s missing; Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park
    [27:07] Listener questions: An invitation to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
    [27:53] Listener questions; Managing friendship and national park trips
    [30:48] Jack reflects on his most transcendent park moments; Fossil Butte National Monument
     

    Connect & Subscribe

    You can find Everybody’s National Parks podcast on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and tag #everybodysnationalparks. Make sure to subscribe to Everybody’s National Parks wherever you get your podcasts, so you’ll never miss an episode.

    Send us your stories, tips or comments to Hello at everybodynps.com you can write us a message or even record a short voice memo on your phone, and then attach it to the email. You may be featured on an upcoming episode.

    If you like the show, become a patron to support the show.

    Most of all, enjoy exploring the national parks with your family.
    Jack Steward and Colton Smith in Grand Teton National Park - photo by Rock the Park.Jack and Colton in Grand Teton National Park - photo by Rock the Park.


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