Today the United States National Park Service (NPS) turned 100 years old. Although our oldest parks have their roots in the 1870s, it was in 1916 that the Organic Act created a centralized, coherent agency within the Department of the Interior to oversee all aspects of America’s growing number of national parks. Since then the NPS has carefully balanced the protection of our most spectacular natural and historic places with the needs of the people who want to experience them.
Today the NPS manages 59 official “national parks” as well as over 300 other sites of superlative natural, historical, and cultural importance. August 25, 2016 marks the centennial of the National Park Service, and public interest in experiencing these amazing locations is at an all-time high. Visitation has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and this year is setting all-time records.
If you’re unfamiliar with the history of the National Park Service, I strongly encourage you to watch “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” This Ken Burns miniseries provides a great wealth of historical information as well as breathtaking photos, anecdotes, and personal stories about our national parks.
Beyond that, all I can offer is a link to all my posts related to national park visits. I feel fortunate that I’ve managed to see 47 of our 59 national parks at this point. I hope to not only see the remaining 12 but revisit all of them whenever I can. All of them represent some of the best features the United States has to offer the world and posterity.