Celebrate 100 Years of the National Park Service

This year, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th year on August 25, 2016, which has me thinking back to all my experiences in our national parks.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Tourists take photos as Yellowstone's Old Faithful geyser erupts. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Tourists take photos as Yellowstone's Old Faithful geyser erupts. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

August 25, 2016 - National Park Service Centennial

This year, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th year, which has me thinking back to all my experiences in our national parks. I caught my first rainbow trout, fly fishing in the shadow of Grand Teton National Park. I led my first 24-day outdoor education trip in Yellowstone National Park. I brought my parents to Glacier National Park for their first backpacking trip when they were in their 50s. I attempted my first technical alpine ascent of a peak on the 13,776-foot Grand Teton.

I’ve realized that national parks don’t advertise one really important thing. They change you in the way only wild places can, especially those in the American West. In Yellowstone, I discovered how bringing teens into nature can transform followers into leaders. In Glacier, I saw my parents in a new light as they charged down a trail and into a freezing alpine lake, hollering the whole way. On the Grand Teton, I learned that the most valuable lessons in life take place en route to our destinations, after a fast-moving storm forced us to descend before we reached the summit.

When you drive through the park entrance station, the National Park Service rangers don’t tell you about all the possible life-changing experiences you will have. Perhaps they want you to uncover it yourself. Like the quiet alpine lake you and your family stumble upon 20 minutes down the trail and miles away from the crowds. Or the grizzly you spot at dusk through your binoculars in the Lamar Valley. Or the cold beer you sip while sitting in the rocking chairs at the Roosevelt Lodge.

Here’s to answering the National Park Service’s birthday call this year to “Find your park.” With countless trails to discover, wildlife to watch and rivers to play in, you don’t need to travel far. There are 410 national park sites, covering more than 84 million acres in every state, including farther-flung places like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

But making the trip to Yellowstone Country is extraordinarily well-worth it. Home to wolves, bison and grizzlies and half of the world’s geysers, it’s like no other place on Earth.
Along the way, there’s something else you’ll find - yourself.

- Tori Peglar, Editor, National Park Journal

Related

Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service

NPS Centennial Q & A with Jonathan Jarvis

We asked the Director of the National Park Service to look back at the last 100 years and to glimpse forward to the next century's challenges and opportunities.

National Park Stamp Pane. Copyright 2016 USPS

16 National Parks Get Their Own Stamps

Show your love for national parks on your envelopes. Artwork is from existing art or photos such as Art Wolfe’s photo of a bison on the Yellowstone stamp.

Disneynature Film Bears

Disneynature "Bears" Film Benefits National Parks

Disney and the National Park Foundation invite you to see the new film "Bears" during opening week, April 18-24, 2014. This just happens to be National Park Week, and when you go see the film during this week, Disney will make a donation on your behalf to the National Park Foundation to protect wildlife and wild places.

Yellowstone Junior Ranger Program. Photo by NPS Jim Peaco

4th Graders Can Visit Parks Free For a Year

Get a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks if you are in the 4th grade in the United States.

Yellowstone elk sticking out his tongue

Funny and Tragic Tales in our National Parks

At What Altitude Does a Deer Become an Elk? Read a compilation of mostly funny, some weird and a few tragic tales of adventures in our national parks.

Winter Use Plan Threatens Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park

West Yellowstone businessman believes snowmobiles should be allowed in the Park if resources are protected through the use of guides and snowcoaches.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Lower Falls from Artist Point.

Park Worker's Fatal Fall into Yellowstone's Grand Canyon

In the early hours on August 26, 2016, Yellowstone Park employee Estefania Liset Mosquera Alcivar fell from Grand View Point in the park and died.

Yellowstone Wolf Howling in Winter

Gray Wolves Increase Tourism in Yellowstone National Park

Ecotourism in Yellowstone has increased since gray wolves were reintroduced to the ecosystem, boosting local economies by an estimated $5 million per year.