Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!

by Marina

Mount Rainier wrapped in clouds. Rainier is so large it is capable of creating its own weather. View from outside the Jackson Visitor Center, NPS Photo

It seems like a lot of centennials* are taking place this year. First Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday and now the National Park Service will celebrate 100 years on August 25th.

The National Park Service (NPS) idea started with a bill in 1864, signed by Abraham Lincoln, to preserve the area now known as Yosemite National Park in California. In 1872, Yellowstone in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming was designated the first national park. In 1915 Stephen T. Mather, a private citizen, presented the idea of having a park service exclusive to maintaining and managing these parks. With the backing of the National Geographic Society, along with environmentalist John Muir, Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, and the popular press, he was able to gain enough support and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service as a division of the Department of the Interior. The NPS locations include natural wonders, historical and cultural landmarks, and recreational areas.

The state of Washington has a few sites that fall under the National Park Service. The most well known is probably Mt. Rainier. Which, embarrassingly enough, I have never visited even though I have lived here almost my entire life (although, my mom tells me we got up to the (closed) gate one time and I did get very close another time when I adopted one of my dogs from a rescue in that area). One of the NPS locations in WA I have visited is the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park (thanks to my middle school fangirling of Jack London’s books–also, coincidentally, celebrating a centennial).

Outside of Washington I’ve been to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (and, yes, on the way we did stop at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park), Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, and Bryce and Zion Canyons in Utah. This fall I’m heading back for another visit to Colorado and I made sure my travel route includes a stop at Dinosaur National Monument. Because, really, who doesn’t want to see dinosaur bones embedded in rock walls?

What are the recommended must-sees on your NPS list? Or, your still-need-to-sees?

*In case you’re interested, a few other centennial celebrations this year are: Boeing, the completion of the Montlake Cut (and the beginning of the Ballard Locks and Ship Canal construction, centennial in 2017) Roald DahlShackleton’s Endurance Expedition, the Van Buren Sisters’ cross-country motorcycle ride (why is there not a book about this?), the Pulitzer Prize, the San Diego Zoo, and the continuation of the WWI centenary.


Tags: , , , , ,


13 responses to “Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!”

  1. Michelle C. says:

    Seems like a lot happened in 1916! On my list of parks I need to see is Glacier National Park. One of my favorites that I have visited was Zion National Park–so incredible!

  2. Michelle C. says:

    Wow, that rock cracked the pavement. Good thing there were no cars driving through at the time!

  3. Jenny says:

    Would have been amazing to hear the sound of that rock crashing! I love the National Parks – thanks for posting this.

    • Marina says:

      Jenny, a falling rock soundtrack would have been pretty cool–imagine the sound just by the damage they show. But, luckily, nobody was nearby.

  4. karen says:

    The birthday of the National Parks service is actually August 25th not the 24th.

  5. Ruth says:

    I LOVE the National Parks. If I had a bucket list, it would probably be to visit as many of them as possible. As a kid we would always tent camp at Kalaloch Campgrounds on the Pacific Coast, and go visit the Hoh Rain Forest– both part of the Olympic National Park.

  6. Julie says:

    So many parks, so little time … I love Mt. Rainier, the North Cascades (so much more than the PCT) and Olympic National Park. Thanks so much for the great information!

  7. Terry Beck says:

    My very favorite will always be Acadia National Park in Maine, probably for sentimental reasons. I have such wonderful memories of Cadillac Mountain and the carriage paths. And I’d love to go back there for a visit!

    • Marina says:

      Thanks for sharing, Terry. I’ve always been intrigued with Maine when I’ve read about it in books. Unless it was a Stephen King book, of course.

  8. Celebrations says:

    […] written about several centennials so far this year (plus, locally, the Everett Massacre that I recently read about–thanks […]

Leave a reply (comments are moderated before posting)