During a trip to Grand Teton National Park, Bruce and I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple from Great Britain. They had also spent time in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone while visiting the U.S. and had just seen their first bear in the wilderness. They were in tears with the magnificence of it all.
“These parks, this wilderness – it’s the best thing about America,” she told us in her clipped British accent.
Bruce and I couldn’t agree more.
Happy Birthday National Park Service
In 2016, we have the joy of celebrating 100 years since Congress agreed on something and created the National Park Service. With more than 400 units of the NPS, there are lots of places to celebrate in all 50 states as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.
But when many of us think of the National Park Service, we think of parks – of those iconic places like Yosemite, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. Of those, we only have 59 in which to celebrate.
If you can’t get to them all, or even if you can, there’s a relatively new book out on the market that, if you need any more motivation, will help you decide which ones to visit first. It’s simply called “59 Illustrated National Parks,” published by the Anderson Design Group in Nashville.
This company also makes fabulous vintage-style posters showcasing the parks. (Don’t tell Bruce, but I intend to order a couple for his birthday).
The book lists the parks in chronological order of their legislative creation. From Yellowstone signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 to Pinnacles National Park, signed into law in 2012 by Barack Obama, each park entry has several pages of photos, history and reasoning about why these wilderness areas are worthy of protection by federal law.
There are also tips on the best hiking trails, most scenic drives and ridiculously fascinating trivia about the wildlife of these parks.
For example, at Katmai National Park in Alaska, bear cubs will stay with their mothers for about 2 1/2 years. BTW – July is the best time to watch bears fish for salmon in Brooks Falls in Katmai.
Best Birthday Present EVER!
As of this post, Bruce and I have visited 20 of those 59 parks; 82 of the 409 units of the Park Service. So our goal for 2016 and beyond is to up those numbers significantly and check off a few more entries in our National Park Passport book – another good book you should have in your library.
It’s the best birthday gift we can give to the National Park Service and ourselves.