How Pokémon Go May Save the Future of Our National Parks

"It seems like every day I go back to work, there's just more and more people there playing the game," says a park employee

Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images

Pokémon Go has swept the nation and gotten people out of the house in both good and bad ways.

Not every location has been happy to see an influx of people coming by in search of virtual monsters, but there are some places that are more than welcoming to people in search of a pikachu or charmander: our national parks and monuments.

“It seems like every day I go back to work there’s just more and more people there playing the game. I think it’s great,” Lynsey Graham, a front desk receptionist at the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, tells PEOPLE.

Graham, 25, is a fan of the game herself and was happy to see visitors congregated together playing the game during one of her recent patrols of the grounds.

“I was just walking the grounds and making sure people are where they are supposed to be and I had downloaded the game and I realized there was a seadra, which is a very good pokémon, nearby so I decided to go find it,” she says. “I turned the corner and there were about 20 people standing there in their pajamas and we all got the pokémon and had a great time.”

A few days later, Graham came across a large group of people in red, yellow and blue shirts (seemingly representing the three different teams Pokémon Go players can be a part of) having a cookout and playing the game.

“It was so nice to see people coming together and getting to know each other,” she says.

Graham is aware of the injuries that have occurred because people are distracted while playing the game and she says she is grateful the two PokéStops and one gym are in locations that are safe for visitors to congregate.

“We’re lucky that all of our PokéStops are in places that are safe,” she says. “I’d hate for anything bad to happen to anyone who just was here to enjoy themselves.”

Graham hopes that young people will continue to flock to our national parks to play the game – and hopefully become a new generation of park-goers.

“We’re always wondering about the next generations. We see them visit with their family, but now they’re coming on their own,” says Graham. “They come for the pokémon, but they’re staying for the park and the wonder and really enjoying the sites.”

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