If you’ve ever been curious about our National Parks, especially the ones near you, now would be a great time to explore them – both this month and this year, during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
Entrance to all national parks will be free during National Park Week, April 16-24. The National Park Service — turning 100 — is reaching out to connect Americans with its 410 units, including 59 national parks, national monuments, national seashores and other locations.
There will also be a free summer week to celebrate the NPS birthday – August 25-28. National Public Lands Day on September 24 will be free, as will Veteran’s Day on November 11. .
Interested in going by recreational vehicle? Review LiveOutdoors.com’s article Best Ways to See the National Parks: RV Road Trips. You can also download a free “Owners Guide” from the National Parks Foundation.
- The largest national park is Alaska’s Wrangell St. Elias, which at 13.2 million acres is bigger than putting Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks together with Switzerland.
- The smallest park is Hot Springs, Arkansas with less than six thousand acres.
- California has the most national parks – nine.
- The most visited national park is Great Smoky Mountains in Northern Carolina and Tennessee, with over 10 million visitors per year.
- The least visited park is the remote Gates of the Artic in Alaska, which had only 12,699 visitors in 2014.
- The newest park is Pinnacles National Park, a mountainous area located in California’s Salinas Valley.
- Yellowstone was the first national park, established in 1872. The second was Mackinac National Park in Michigan, which lasted only 20 years before being converted to a state park in 1895.
- Fourteen national parks are designated World Heritage Sites.
No matter where you live or what your interests are, this centennial year is a great time for you to visit our National Parks, “the best idea America ever had.”
Photo credit: (featured) National Park Service (below) Library of Congress