What a great time to visit and support our national parks as they celebrate their centennial this year. Majestic, spectacular, and glorious are some of the adjectives you’ll use to describe the natural splendor of our National Park System; in fact, you will quickly run out of superlatives.
Visiting a park is easy; you’ll find national park sites in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Whatever outdoor activities you enjoy, whether you like parks that are large or small, nearby or a destination, there is a park for you.
Five interesting national park facts:
While President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service in 1916, it was President Ulysses S. Grant who signed the act in 1872 that created our nation's first national park, Yellowstone National Park.
The National Park Service includes more than national parks, though. There are over 400 areas which include: monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and, surprisingly, the White House.
The five most visited national parks are: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
The five most visited places in the National Park System are: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Lincoln Memorial.
The largest national park site is Wrangell - St. Elias, National Park & Preserve in Alaska with 13.2 million acres while Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania is the smallest with .02 acres.
What to do
How can you join the Centennial celebration?
Visit a national park site. Use the National Park Service’s website to find a park.
Purchase a pass. An annual park pass is $80, allowing access to 2,000 federal recreation sites.
Get a free or discounted pass. Free passes are available for current U.S. military and their dependents, U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities, and fourth graders.
Seniors (62 or over and U.S citizens or permanent residents) are eligible for a $10 lifetime pass.
Buy a Passport to your National Parks, 2016 Centennial Edition. The cost is $9.95 for adults (Kid’s Pass is $6.95) at eParks.com, the official online store of America’s National Parks.
Divided into regions, it serves as a guide to the parks and a great souvenir to commemorate your visit. In it you’ll find maps, park information, and space for you to get rubber stamp cancellations and stamps from individual parks. For park locations that participate in the stamp program, go here.
Support the National Park Service. Make a donation to your favorite national park, a park’s friends group, or the National Park Foundation.
Give of yourself and volunteer with the National Park Service.
Shop from over 150 park stores.
Whether you are a first-time or veteran visitor of our national parks, this is a great year to explore our nation’s beauty and support our national heritage.