The National Park Service turned 100 years old on August 25th. Admittance to all National Parks, and other fee areas controlled by the National Park Service are free from now through Sunday, August 28th.
There are 59 national parks, and that does not include the additional landmarks under the National Park System umbrella, such as national forests, seashores, battlefields, military sites, historical sites, and monuments all totaling 412 sites.
When I was much younger, in my 20s, I had a vision of traveling to all of the National Parks in the United States, all while camping in a tent. My 20-something self could NOT imagine how I could get there. I was stuck in Corporate America, working the 9 to 5 grind, commuting from the suburbs to Washington, D.C. every day, and going to college part-time in the evenings. That dream didn’t happen in my 20s or 30s but the burning desire to travel to these National Parks never, ever left me. Finally, in my 40s, I got a glimpse of what it was like to travel, and spend time in some of our most beloved national parks.
Beginning in 2006, I started documenting my National Park quest with the Grand Canyon. It was March, and it was cold and snowy in the upper elevations of the South Rim. The North Rim at over 7,000 feet in elevation had closed for the winter in late October.
Each and every national park has a beauty and significance all of its own. Some parks are easily accessible, and others are only accessible by boat or plane.
To date, I have visited 35 National Parks, and countless other sites within the National Park Service. I always find myself in awe every time I step foot into one of these magnificent beauties. Even Congaree National Park in South Carolina, which is located directly in the middle of a swamp, has its own unique beauty.
I’ve embarked on my National Park Project — in a memory-keeping sense as well. I have set up the pages the exact same way to streamline the process and have the focus on the photos and the words. I have photos of most of the entrance signs to the parks as well as the official park maps.
The top ten most popular national parks in the United States are:
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Grand Canyon
- Rocky Mountain
- Grand Teton
The National Park System is maintained with your tax dollars, so in essence, we all have a stake in preserving the beauty and wilderness that encompasses the lands contained within this government entity. Make a pilgrimage to one of the 412 sites under the National Park Service this weekend.