This past weekend the national parks service reached its centennial anniversary, celebrating the occasion with events across the country.
The national parks service was established in 1816 by President Theodore Roosevelt, a lifelong nature enthusiast who wanted to preserve the country’s natural wonders for generations to come.
There are 413 national parks in total, although they technically cannot all be classified as such. In fact, only 59 are truly “National Parks”. Eighty-three are national monuments, 19 are national preserves, 50 are national historical parks, four are national parkways, and 30 are national memorials.
While it may sound like the various titles are fancy ways of saying the same thing, there are important differences between the sites. National parks, for instance, may prohibit hunting, while a National Reserve would permit it.
University of Pennsylvania data-scientist and blogger Randal S. Olson has created an optimized road trip in honor of the centennial, which spans through all 47 National Parks found in the continental United States. Traveling at what Olson calls “a breakneck pace”, the trip would span roughly two months across 14,498 miles of road.
While this would certainly be a memorable way to celebrate the occasion, the National Park’s service has been working towards some activities that require a little less dedication. Their “Find Your Park” program consists of a website that allows you to browse a directory of parks and activities to find those closest to your area.
The weekend of August 25-28, marking the anniversary of the organization’s founding to the day, held free admission for visitors to all 413 parks.
However, park staff members have stated that the influx of visitors to the parks is causing some trouble. Visitors are getting too close to animals, disregarding rules, and overall causing trouble for park rangers.
“Bison are responsible for more human injuries than all other wildlife at the park combined,” Yellowstone National Park’s official website states. This is important for visitors to keep in mind before making any poor decisions regarding park wildlife.
Yellowstone is the first national park, having been founded in 1872 by U.S. Congress after being thoroughly explored by the esteemed American geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden.
Another equally notable national park is Yosemite. Nicknamed “the Incomparable Valley”, Yosemite was given a protected status in 1890 by Abraham Lincoln under the Yosemite Park Grant. Yosemite is best known for its many geysers and hot springs, the most iconic of which is “Old Faithful”.
As the great American novelist Wallace Stegner once said, “National parks are the best idea we ever had.”