In 2016, the United States National Park Service will celebrate its 100th birthday. The organization came into existence when it was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 under the name the Organic Act. However, the national parks had a much older history than that, Yellowstone National Park was declared the first by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. There were eight other national parks dedicated from that time to the creation of the park service.
A great deal of the natural preservation can be credited to President Teddy Roosevelt, who was a conservationist himself. During his presidency from 1901 to 1909, Roosevelt established the U.S. Forest Service and created five national parks. Since the National Park Service’s founding many more parks have been founded with a total of 58 total across 27 states. In addition to the national parks, the National Park Service has taken over many other places of historical, geological, and ecological importance. Today there are 463 National Park Service related areas across the United States and four U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands).
While some of the national parks charge admission, there a few days a year the park service waives the fees to encourage more visitors to the parks. There are 16 such free days in 2016 to celebrate the park service’s 100th anniversary. The others are free to visit year-round.
- January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- April 16 through 24: National Park Week
- August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
- September 24: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
The U.S. National Parks average over 275 million visitors a year, which is encouraging considering just how beautiful these places are. Below is a map of the United States color-coded to display how many national parks each state features.
Every state has at least one National Park Service related area so please take a day and visit one. And there’s a good chance that a national park isn’t too far away for a visit. Chances are if you visit once you’ll want to go back, or even better visit more!
I’d love to hear about the national parks you’ve visited and your favorite reasons why. Please take a moment to let me know about your national park adventures on the comment sections of this blog below.
With summer not far off don’t forget to Find Your Park!