Yesterday, August 25th was the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the service on that date. The national park movement is older than that. On March 1, 1872 the first national park, Yellowstone National Park in the (then) territories of Montana and Wyoming was established. From that time forward the parks have grown. Currently there are 400 areas of national parks comprising over 84 million acres of land in the 50 US states, District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands.
This past week some members of my family and I went to visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harper's Ferry, WVA. It was a picture perfect day and a good time to go. Not too crowded (schools are beginning to commence) but not too desolate (we were not the only ones present at some of the talks). I have been to Harpers Ferry before but each time I go I learn something else.
I have found that I learn something new every time I visit any of the national parks. The park rangers are quite knowledgeable and even though they may give the same "spiel" it is always with a different slant. Plus, in some of the parks they are constantly uncovering new information about the history that took place. It is also interesting to note that not all parks are in rural environments. There are national parks in the major cities and in all topography. I have never been out West to see Yellowstone and the other "famous" parks but I have been to a lot on the East Coast.
I highly recommend visiting any of the parks. It is fun to explore, it is educational and supports our country's need for open spaces. It also is instrumental in retaining our history and in binding each of us together as Americans through our shared experiences.
What about you? Have you ever visited a national park? If so, which ones? If not, why not take a weekend or day trip to do so this fall? Or, plan to visit one of the "popular" ones next summer?
And while you are there, enjoy the birthday celebration.