100 Years of the National Park Service

This series offers perspectives on the history and importance of the National Park System.

Cathedral Rocks at Mirror Lake
Yosemite’s Cathedral Rocks and a blue sky, reflected in Mirror Lake.

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On August 25, 2016, the U.S. National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary. We all have our own, personal relationship with the national parks. For some, it’s a world of untouched, natural beauty; for others, it’s memories of fun vacations with family and friends. This series offers perspectives on the history and importance of the NPS.

Join the conversation on Twitter: #NPS

Cathedral Rocks at Mirror Lake

National Parks at 100

In the feature story from our March/April 2016 issue, author and consummate hiker Karen Berger writes about the past, present, and future of America’s “best idea” as she describes her personal relationship with our national parks. Read more »

person kayaking on river

National Park To-Do List

Many people think of our national parks as places to go see, but as this list shows, there are plenty of activities to do there as well. Read more »

Waimoku Falls

America’s Hidden Treasures

“America the Beautiful” is certainly an appropriate description. From the thundering power of the Niagara Falls, the panoramic splendor of the Grand Canyon, and the towering proportions of Mount McKinley, residents are surrounded by some of the most majestic places on Earth. But what about all the places in between? Read more »

Ken Burns

Preserving the Primeval

Interview by Jeanne Wolf
Documentarian Ken Burns talks about what the national parks system means to him and what he hoped to accomplish with his 2009 documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Read more »

Grand Canyon National Park WPA Poster

WPA Poster Project: Promoting Our Parks

From 1938 to 1941, the National Park Service employed WPA-FAP artists to create promotional posters for the parks. Only 14 designs were created before the project was suspended at the onset of World War II. Of the 14 produced, few survived. Read more »

From the Post Archive:

Man standing in front of a Redwood Tree

Saving America’s Living Monuments

In 1953, Horace Albright tells the story of a campaign to save “the Big Trees” for the public. Read more »

Glen Canyon Dam (Lorcel/Shutterstock)

Damming the Parks

In 1954, Conrad Wirth, the director of the National Park Service, was responsible for 24 million acres of properties and the myriad troubles that came with them. Today, NPS sites cover an area larger than New Mexico, and the problems keep coming. Read more »

Two men looking at plans in front of White House

Overseeing the Parks Is No Picnic

In 1950, a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian warned the American people to keep an eye on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Project, which proposed a dam that would cover most of Dinosaur National Monument. Read more »


Vintage Ads: Selling the National Parks

Long before there was a National Park Service, Americans were traveling to the parks on horseback and in stagecoaches. After the railroads began building spur lines to the parks, they started advertising their park routes to Post readers. Read more »

Mirror Lake, Yosemite

National Park Service — January 1, 1916

The Post showed its support for the establishment of the National Park Service from day one. A January 1, 1916, editorial warns that not passing the National Park Service bill waiting before Congress would be a careless mistake. Read more »

Yellowstone National Park

Parks for Posterity — February 12, 1916

The Post voiced support for the National Park Service bill again in February of 1916. Here, he argues that the wisdom of the plan to preserve these parks for future generations “is so self-evident that no room is left for argument.” Read more »

Glacier Park

National Park Service — March 18, 1916

In March 1916, the Post drummed up more support for the creation of the NPS by tapping into readers’ sense of patriotism. The editorial compares America’s mismanaged national parks with the unified (and more popular) Canadian parks system. Read more »

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