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Our National Park Service (NPS) is turning the big one-oh-one this Friday. A 100th birthday is a big deal, but there is just something a little bit more fun about 101! The big celebration with the typical hullabaloo was last year, but you can still enter any of the NPS parks, monuments, and waterways fee free this Friday, August 25.
If you’re like me you know about the various national parks and how they came to be, but you don’t actually know anything about the National Park Service itself or how the parks and monuments gain their status. Here’s a quick crash course courtesy of their website.
An organization created in 1916 to oversee the parks created between 1872-1916 and all future locations. Prior to 1916 the organizations that looked after the parks varied greatly and included the War Department and the Department of Agriculture. Currently, the system oversees 417 areas that cover more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Did you know the White House is one of their locations? I didn’t. It’s pretty fascinating.
Last year they saw 330,971,681 visits according to IRMA.
Largest and Smallest national park sites
Differences between a National Park and a National Monument
There is so much more information about the National Park Service, but I’ll stop here. There is one other great program that the NPS runs called, Every Kid in a Park. We’ve got a post about it coming up next week! If you have a 4th grader, you’ll want to check it out.