Celebrating 100 Years of the National Park Service
Way back in the summer of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act that created the National Park Service – a federal bureau designed to protect the 35 existing national parks and monuments (the first national park, Yellowstone, was founded by congress in 1872, with the remaining added in the next 40 years). Fast forward 100 years, and America’s parks system encompasses 413 areas (with Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument being added just yesterday!). Of these, there are 59 national parks, 84 national monuments, and 78 national historic sites. In total, the Parks Service oversees over 84 million acres, with land in every state.
Over the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting many of the national parks, from Cape Cod to Bryce Canyon. This past autumn, we took a grand circle tour of 6 of the great western national parks: Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arches and Mesa Verde. In total, we covered over 3,600 miles in just 10 days, but we packed those days plum full of adventure. Each park was spectacular in its own right, but if we had to choose a favorite, it would be the granddaddy of them all – Yellowstone. We spent four days in that park, two in and around Mammoth and two days around Old Faithful. We even had the great honor and luck of staying in the original 1903 portion of the Old Faithful Inn.
Since then, we’ve been on a few other national parks as business trips have brought us nearby. This past winter, I visited the Grand Canyon and Arches again, and for the first time, visited the Colorado National Monument and its epic Rim Rock Road. Just a few weeks ago, we took our family to explore another first for us, the Cape Cod National Seashore. All in all, we were blessed with spectacular weather throughout – including more than one sky-on-fire-gorgeous sunset. This year may have marked our first big foray into the national parks, but rest assured, Lord willing, it will not be our last! Happy birthday National Park Service – and here’s to many, many more centuries of success and joy!
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