Today is the day! It is the centennial of the founding of the National Park Service! As an American citizen, you own the Parks and we all have great reason to celebrate. There is so much diversity, beauty and breathtaking landscapes to explore and as cliche as is sounds: there truly is something for everyone.
So on this day August 25, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau created to manage and protect the national parks and monuments in our country. At that time, there were only 35 parks and monuments that held the status as National park or monument. In the 100 years since the establishment of the National Park Service, that number has grown to encompass more than 400 sites, 411 to be exact. As of this writing, President Obama recently added the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine to be #411 on that list. A list that encompasses not only unique and awe inspiring lands, but also includes hundreds of places across this country that tell the stories of those that came before us. There is both natural history and beauty and the also histories of man in the many monuments found within the National Park Service. The more than 20,000 National Park Service employees help to care for and preserve the local histories of each site. Visitors to a National Park or Monument know they can come away from their experience refreshed from the recreational opportunities available, but also knowing a little more about the unique history of the area and the lay of the land.
So many people talk about experiences they are determined to achieve and say, “It’s on my bucket list”. So many times those bucket lists include one of our many beautiful National Parks. I myself have been to so many, and look forward to many more. You hear of folks that have traveled to ALL the parks; now that would be quite an adventure. If you are counting just National Parks (and not monuments) there are currently 58 National Parks. I honestly don’t think I will live long enough to visit them all, but it sure is fun to try. All those stamps in my National Parks “passport” are fun to collect! See my blog explaining the passport program: https://travelingamericablog.wordpress.com/seek-out-your-passport/
Sometimes people get caught up in just the most well-known parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, but it is amazing what you can find in the “unexpected places”. I live in the Midwest and found it very interesting that a beautiful park exists within a days drive of our home: Cuyahoga Valley National Park just south of Cleveland, Ohio. We visited the park in June and were amazed at the scenic trails and several cascading waterfalls within the park. Here is a view of the Brandywine Falls. The Cuyahoga River runs thru the park and provides the back drop for many interesting tales of the history of the canal system. What a neat place to visit, it wasn’t on my “bucket list”, but so glad I went!
The establishment of the National Park Service, was not all wine and roses and was not without huge hurdles, both political and economical. Yet, we have many to thank for their perseverance for making it all happen. The National Park Service will continue to have issues as it continues into it’s second century, but one would hope that it’s purpose would help to preserve it’s goals, and to preserve our lands. From the words of the original act signed into law in 1916, we remember why the National Park Service was established in the first place: “…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
So say Happy Birthday to the National Park Service for 100 years of commitment to our lands and resources and continued success moving forward. To find a Park that you would like to visit, check out: https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm
Put your traveling shoes on. JES