Celebrate 100 Years of National Parks!

While it might be the flashiest event of the season, the 240th anniversary of our country’s birth isn’t the only patriotic celebration happening this summer. This August also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service—a perfect excuse to get out there and revel in some of the most breathtaking sites and scenery America has to offer.

Thanks to the three new monuments that President Obama granted federal protection to this past February, the number of parks, monuments and other sites under the care of the National Parks Service now numbers nearly four hundred. That’s 84 million acres in the US and its territories!

From the Florida Everglades to Alaska’s Denali, and the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to Oregon’s Crater Lake, this country is bursting with beauty. Not sure which park is right for you? The National Park Service’s site findyourpark.com lets you browse options by state, type of experience and upcoming events. Or, if you prefer a more tailored experience, tour company National Parks Revealed designs custom private vacations in and around the National Parks and National Monuments of the western United States for individuals and their families.

If you’re lucky enough to have a fourth grader in your family, admission is free for your whole crew, thanks to the government’s Every Kid in a Park campaign. For the rest of us, fees range between $3 and $30, though there are still a handful of free days this year, including the National Park Service’s Birthday (August 25–28), National Public Lands Day (September 28) and Veterans Day (November 11).

For those of us who can’t get away this summer or fall, there’s still a way to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial—commemorative coins. The United States Mint has issued unique $5, $1 and half dollar coins, with surcharges going to the National Park Foundation to fund projects that help preserve and protect areas under the stewardship of the National Park Service.

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