100 Years of Caring: the National Park Service

Julia Fassero, VOX Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The National Park Service turns 100 this year. The centennial anniversary of the organization that cares for our national parks is on August 25, 2016.  From breathtaking canyons to towering waterfalls, from sky-scraping mountains to the deepest valleys, from volcanoes to forests, America is full of beautiful scenery, carefully preserved in the national parks cared for by the NPS.

great sand dunes photo cred nps with textNational Park Service


More than 13.25 billion people have visited America’s 59 national parks since 1904.  That averages out to more than 224 million visitors per park over 112 years.  Facilitating these billions of visitors’ travels within the national parks are the nearly 22,000 employees of the National Park Service.

The NPS was created on August 25, 1916, by President Woodrow Wilson.  The Organic Act of 1916 that he signed into law stated in part that the purpose of the National Park Service was “. . . to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

yellowstone geyser photo cred nps with corrected text


The first park, Yellowstone National Park, was established by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872.  Trappers were the first to explore the area now known as Yellowstone, but 1860 was the year that an official exploration party was sent.  Due to snow, they were unable to explore much, and parties in 1869, 1870 and 1871 did most of the real surveying that led to its declaration as a national park.

zion photo cred nps with textNational Park Service

Until 1890, when Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks were established, Yellowstone was the sole park of its type in the United States.  The most recently added park, Pinnacles in California, was signed into existence in 2013.  California and Alaska top the list with the most national parks:  nine and eight, respectively.  Present in 27 states, the American Samoa and the United States Virgin Islands, national parks occupy around 51.9 million acres of American soil.

crater lake photo cred nps with textNational Park Service

America’s national parks offer an opportunity for every American to experience creation at the very height of its awe-inspiring beauty.  In order to truly appreciate both our national parks and the beauty of creation, you have to experience it firsthand.

denali aurora borealis photo cred nps with textNational Park Service

Have you ever visited a national park?

If you have, send us a picture of your trip and a brief story from it on the Letter to the Editor page.

Never visited a national park?  This is the time to do it!  In celebration of their 100th birthday, the NPS is hosting a National Park Week from April 16 – 24 with free admission to all of the national park sites.

To find a park near you, click here and start planning your adventure today!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email