Friday, August 26, 2016

100 years of the National Park Service!

Yesterday marks 100 years of the National Park Service, stewards of our National Parks as well as our national monuments, battlefields, military parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails and even the White House.

Arches National Park

Our first National Park, Yellowstone, actually precedes the NPS by over forty years, established by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was followed by Mackinac Island (MI) in 1875, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite in 1890, Mount Rainier in 1899, and a half dozen others through 1916: Crater Lake in Oregon, Wind Cave in South Dakota, Glacier in Montana, Mesa Verde & Rocky Mountain in Colorado, and what is now Hawai’i Volcanoes. On August 25, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill into law creating the National Park Service to oversee all these national parks, with the mission to conserve our natural spaces for generations to come.

Glassy Mountain, Carl Sandburg Home NHS

Today the National Park Service employs more than 20,000 men and women in the 412 national parks (and monuments, battlefields etc.), and last year 307.2 million people visited our public spaces. With the 2016 Find Your Park initiative, that number is expected to be surpassed; Find Your Park encourages everyone to find the park nearest them and to share their stories.

My junior rangers at Big South Fork NRRA

In celebration of its 100th birthday, the National Park Service invites visitors to celebrate with free admission to all 412 national park sites through Sunday, August 28th. In addition there are hundreds of special events taking place across the US; check out your local park’s website for more information.

In honor of this historical day, here are a few of my favorite National Parks as visited by Femme au Foyer…

South Carolina’s only National Park is Congaree National Park. But we’ve got a bunch more NPS sites in our neck of the woods, including Cowpens National Battlefield and Ninety Six National Historic Site, and on the coast you’ll find Fort Sumter National Monument which includes Fort Moultrie.  Just across the North Carolina border are the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site and Kings Mountain National Military Park, and up towards Asheville and further north are the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Underground in Mammoth Cave

Of recently visited National Parks, Mammoth Cave is one of my favorites. We had just as much fun exploring aboveground as underground! I also enjoyed our brief tour of Everglades National Park, possibly the most famous of Florida’s national parks.

The view of Moccasin Bend from Point Park, Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP

Roberts is a history buff, so he enjoys sites that document our nation’s history. One such stop was the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Ohio. Another was the first (and largest) military park in the US, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP with its combination of historical battlefields and scenic views.

Shenandoah NP's Blackrock Summit

Last fall we visited Shenandoah National Park, the vibrant autumn foliage just as breathtaking as the panoramic views from Skyline Drive. I recommend getting off the well-beaten path and getting in a hike or two, such as the Blackrock Summit Trail. On another recent trip we visited Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which really could be a national park – it’s got the breathtaking scenery and the unique geological formations.

Big South Fork - Twin Arches
Last, but not least, the very first national park I featured on Femme au Foyer, Arches NP.

From this rather short list it’s easy to see the wide range of sites managed by the National Park Service, although not as obvious are the challenges facing the agency as climate changes, urban areas sprawl and budgets shrink. After celebrating the first 100 years of the National Park Service we must now look forward to the next 100 years of our National Parks, and what better way to start than to Find Your Park! Visit the NPS website for all sorts of centennial info, not limited to just events but including everything from the national parks postal stamps to IMAX films to historic pictures. And lastly, if you haven’t already, watch the absolutely magnificent videos by More Than Just Parks (most recently one on Grand Teton). Here’s the trailer for the “They are More Than Just Parks: A Centennial Celebration," coming out this fall.


  1. Great post, Liene! I, too, love the National Park Service. :) For people who want to help support them -- there are various options, including the National Park Foundation and the National Parks Conservation Association. Even better, if there's a park that's near and dear to your heart, many of them have "Friends of" types of organizations. I belong to the C&O Canal Association, which provides many volunteer hours to the park, plus organizes special events such as themed hikes (everything from wildflower to dragonfly to bird-watching), and sponsors smaller and larger projects such as installing new benches and signs in the park. The great American values of volunteerism and philanthropy are definitely needed to help our parks as the NPS enters its second century.

  2. I love your National Park listing and photos... We too enjoy seeing the National Parks... My favorites so far are Yellowstone and the Tetons. Hope you all get there sometime... GORGEOUS.



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