Celebrate National Park Week (April 16-24)

April 11, 2016


Tim McClimon

When I was growing up in Iowa, our family couldn't afford to stay in hotels or take airplanes on vacation so we always took road trips and camped in parks - many of them national parks and historic sites. My first exposure to national treasures like the Everglades (FL), Mammoth Cave (KY), Gateway Arch (MO), Gettysburg National Battlefield (PA) and the monuments on The National Mall (DC) came as a result of these family trips - six people crammed into one car with no air conditioning or video games. I don't know how my parents did it!

Next week, you can celebrate National Park Week (April 16-24) by recreating these nostalgic road trips and getting out there to enjoy a national park or monument. With over 400 national parks and monuments in the National Park Service system, there's plenty to see and do, and the NPS is offering free admission to all parks the entire week!

Here are just a few of the activities that you can enjoy in a national park next week:

  • Denali National Park and Reserve (AK): chat with a park ranger at the Tek Rest Stop and join a bike trip down the park road near the Teklanika River (April 16)
  • Painted Desert Visitor Center (AZ): enjoy performances, demonstrations and food capturing the history and diversity of the area (April 16)
  • Minute Man National Historic Park (MA): witness musket firing, battle demonstrations, family activities and more (April 16)
  • Joshua Tree (CA): enjoy Junior Ranger day at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum (April 16)
  • Capitol Reef National Park (UT): join Ranger Rick for an overview of the park's geology (April 17)
  • Harpers Ferry National Historic Park (WV): join a park ranger, Instagrammers, and others interested in social media and photography for an InstaMeet (April 18)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park (UT): make prairie dog and wildlife connections (April 18)
  • Mesa Verde National Park (CO): tour museum collections and archives with Dr. Tara Travis (April 20)
  • Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve (LA): discover Louisiana's Creole heritage through a free concert (April 20)
  • Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail (IL): join noted historian Alfred Runte who will speak about the close relationship of the railroads and the National Park Service (April 23)
  • Arches National Park (UT): join community artist in the parks Madeline Logowitz at the visitor center (April 23)
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (ID): help to complete one of several volunteer projects around the park (April 23)
  • Fort Frederica National Monument (GA): bring your own bike and take a two-hour ride with park rangers to explore Fort Frederica's historic connections to Cannon's Point Preserve
  • Muir Woods National Monument (CA): stroll through Muir Woods at sunrise, listen to tall tales and hear the story of a redwood forest (April 24)

And, here are some fun facts about our National Parks System:

  • The National Park System includes: 124 historic parks or sites, 78 national monuments, 59 national parks, 25 battlefields or military parks, 18 preserves, 18 recreational areas, 10 seashores, 4 parkways, 4 lakeshores and 2 reserves covering more than 84 million acres of land.
  • More than 290 million people visit national parks and monuments last year. The five most visited parks were (in ascending order): Olympic, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains.
  • There are more than 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures preserved in the National Parks System, including Aztec ruins in New Mexico.
  • Some of the largest living things in the world are in National Parks: Sequoia trees (one is the largest single stem tree in the world) and Alaskan brown bears (the world's largest living carnivores).
  • The highest point in North America is Denali at 20,320 feet, and the lowest point in the western hemisphere is Badwater Basin in Death Valley, which is 282 feet below sea level.

Lastly, we are participating in a Twitter Chat to discuss ways that we can all support our national parks during National Volunteer Week (April 10-16) on April 14 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Join by searching #findyourpark. Participating will be representatives from the National Park Service (@NatlParkService), National Park Foundation (@GoParks), Student Conservation Association (@the_sca) and American Express (@AmericanExpress). (American Express is a premier sponsor of the National Parks Service Centennial this year.)

So, get out and find your park, serve your park and enjoy your park during National Park Week!

  If you have a question or comment, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and we'll start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog posting with friends and colleagues.

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