August 25, 2016 marks the National Parks Service’s 100th Birthday! The NPS was created by Congress and signed into law by Woodrow Wilson as a way of managing under a central authority all of the federal public park lands that had accumulated since 1864, the year that President Lincoln signed the first federal act of land protection. Yellowstone was established in 1872 as both the country's and the world's first national park; other early parks include Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia.
When Wilson signed the Organic Act in 1916, 35 national parks and monuments were protected. An additional 56 units, monuments and military sites, were added in 1933, transferred from the Forest Service and the War Department. Today, the NPS operates within the Department of the Interior to protect and preserve 413 different units, ranging from historical monuments to seashores to battlefields. The NPS manages nearly 90 million square miles of land and water.
To celebrate its birthday, all units of the NPS will be fee-free between August 25 and 28 of 2016. One-third of the parks charge an admission fee; some, like Yellowstone, charge $30 per car, and at Arches visitors pay $25 per car. This is a great week to get outside, and get into a park. If you can’t make it out this week, there are still two more fee-free days to look forward to this year, September 24, National Public Lands Day, and November 11, Veterans Day.
Also, for year round exploration, bear in mind that the best deal going is the NPS Annual Pass, which for only $80 gets you into all federal fee areas for one year.
Our plans for the NPS centennial week include trips to the Midwest and NYC area parks! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all the fun. Where are you planning to go this week? New parks or ones you have visited in the past?