Celebrate the National Park Service's 100th Birthday

All National Parks to Offer Free Admission for the NPS Centennial

Photo: National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection

It is finally here -- the National Park Service turns 100 this week and the centennial celebrations we have all been waiting for are ready to go. To commemorate America's Best idea turning 100, the National Park service is offering free admission to the national parks on 16 days this year. That is more free days thatn ever before and this week you will have the opportunity to visit a park for a few days in a row, but also join a number of events in national parks around the country.

National Park Centennial Free Entrance Days

Additional free entrance days were added to the calendar for the national Park Service birthday week. Centennial celebration free entrance days to the national parks include:

  • Thursday, August 25, 2016 
  • Friday, August 26, 2016
  • Saturday, August 27, 2016 
  • Sunday, August 28, 2016 
  • August 25 through 28 – National Park Service Birthday (and following weekend)

Additional free entrance days of rate remaining calendar year in 2016 include: 

  • Saturday, September 24, 2016 in celebration of National Public Lands Day
  • Friday, November 11, 2016 in recognition of Veterans Day

The free entrance fee waiver does not include user fees for things such as camping, boat launches,transportation, or special tours, or expanded amenities. 

America's Best Idea

On August 25, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service by signing an act that would protect and conserve public land for recreation and enjoyment of the American people.If you love and appreciate the outdoors, it is arguably the single best thing a President has ever put his signature on. The act states that "the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life 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." 

The National Park System system includes more than 84 million acres of protected public land and is comprised of 409 sites 28 different designations, including national park, national historical park, national monument, national recreation area, national battlefield, and national seashore. These national park sites collectively contain more than 18,000 miles of trails, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, 247 species of threatened and endangered species, and 167 million museum items. That is a lot of aweomse wild land for recreating, exploring and appreciating nature. 

The popularity of the national parks continues to grow each year. In 2015 nearly 293 million people visited national parks. The 10 most visited national parks are a mecca for outdoor recreation and visiting travelers because of their location, proximity to urban centers, not to mention some of the most scenic outdoor splendors in the world. But the most visited sites do not mean they are the best. You can also see some of the quietest and most secluded landscapes in the country if you get off the beaten path and explore some of the quieter national park sites in America. 

Even with the free entrance days to the national parks in celebration of the centennial, if you are planning more than one trip to see the national parks this year, you might want to consider purchasing the $80 the  annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands-more than 2,000 in all. The annual pass is offered free to all active duty military members and their dependents. 

Happy Birthday National Park Service Centennial Events

You are invited to join the national park service 100th birthday party events! There are birthday celebrations happening around the nation, but these are some of our favorite national park service centennial events.

  • August 25 Naturalization Ceremonies (multiple locations): National Park Service and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will hold naturalization ceremonies in seven national parks: Biscayne National Park, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trial, Grand Canyon National Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Women's Rights National Historical Park.
  • August 25  Find Your Park on Fremont Street Las Vegas (NV): Find Your Park videos and digital displays will play throughout the evening on 1500'x90' digital display as part of the Fremont Street Experience, in partnership with Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
  • August 25 - 28 Grand Canyon National Park Founders Day Celebration (AZ): Park-wide celebration with food, special programs, train exhibit, naturalization ceremony and concert.
  • August 27 and 28th  Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Mitchell State Park Centennial Celebration (NC): The North Carolina State Park System is also celebrating its centennial! Mount Mitchell State Park, the state's inaugural park, was founded on August 26, 1916 – the day after President Wilson signed the legislation creating the National Park Service. Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Mitchell State Park will host a joint centennial celebration.
  • August 29 National Parks Day at the Minnesota State Fair (MN): Mississippi National River and Recreation Area along with other Minnesota national parks will take over Carousel Park at the State Fair Grounds for special programming and activities.
  • August 28 through September 4 Explorer to Explorer with International Space Station (OR): Girl Scout and Boy Scout youth from the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park community will speak at the park with an astronaut onboard the International Space Station. Specific date TBD during the week of Aug. 29-Sept. 4 based on the position of the Space Station. Part of the ARISS or Amateur Radio International Space Station project.

Free Camping on Public Lands

It is not just the entrance to national parks that is free this week. You can camp for free on maybe public lands year-round. Learn the who, what, when, where, how, and why of dispersed camping

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