10 Reasons to Love the National Park Service

Majestic mountains, towering redwood trees, and glittering glaciers—America’s national parks have a wealth of wonders to offer visitors. In turn, these natural treasures and historic sites do a world of good for our country’s health, economy, and image abroad. 

National parks wouldn’t be what they are without the U.S. National Park Service, which turned 100 years old in 2016. Here are 10 reasons a century of national parks is worth celebrating and worth taking a day off (or many more) to explore. 

1. National parks are a great place to spend quality time with the people you love.

Taking time off from work to reconnect with your friends and family is good for everyone. National parks provide a great natural escape (and enough outdoor fun to keep your kids too busy for backseat battles).

2. National parks are truly for everyone.

All are welcome at U.S. national parks—no ifs, ands, buts, or expensive membership fees. Plus, pets are welcome at most parks, so you truly can bring the entire family. 

3. National parks will beautify your social media channels.

Join the #FindYourPark conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to spread the word about the many benefits of our national parks. ​

 

4. Stargazing. Enough said.

 

No offense to Hollywood, but taking in the night sky at some of these national parks is the best way to see the stars.

5. It’s an education outside of the classroom.

Remember how much you loved playing outside during recess as a kid? Every Kid in a Park gives you a reason as a parent to head outdoors with your kids and relive that magical feeling. The NPS program was created so American fourth-graders and their families could discover the wildlife, history, and natural beauty in all U.S. national parks for free. Encourage students you know, friends, family, and colleagues with fourth-graders to go online and get their free pass

6. Anyone can meet his/her match.

Whether you prefer desert sun, rugged mountain terrain, or steamy swampland, there’s a national park for every taste and type. 

7.  Adventure is out there.

Mountaineering, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and more: U.S. national parks offer an amazing variety of outdoor adventures. (Dancing counts, too.) Get inspired by watching the “National Parks Adventure” film in a theater near you. 

8. The NPS contributes to the economy and creates good American jobs.

In 2016, spending by visitors to U.S. national parks created 318,000 jobs and generated $35 billion in economic output. Even if you aren’t the outdoorsy type, those kinds of numbers are worth celebrating.

 

9. America’s “best idea” is part of our heritage. 

A century ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation creating the National Park Service, which was established to protect our public lands and preserve our country’s most beautiful places. It was a uniquely American idea. The foresight of our country’s greatest conservationists allows each of us the opportunity to visit the past, explore today, and pass them to future generations. 

And finally, if nothing else:

10. National park getaways are a great excuse to make s’mores.

Put in that vacation request, secure a campsite, and revisit the simple joy of hot, gooey marshmallows and chocolate on a graham cracker. 

National parks are worth keeping around for another 100+ years—and anyone can help do that. Find more ways to celebrate here.

The original version of this post first appeared here.

March 20, 2018