National Geographic is celebrating 100-years of our National Parks

"There's no place on earth like our country's National Parks."

So states Ford Cochran, Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions. I spoke with Cochran and he filled me in on some of the special events scheduled to commemorate this monumental celebration. Though the reasons for visiting the National Parks are limitless, here are a few for planning your trip in 2016.

100 Years of History, Nature and Conservation

From the moment Woodrow Wilson signed The Organic Act of 1916 creating the National Park Service, "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations," visitors from around the world have journeyed to these pristine destinations.

From the start, under the leadership of the first Director of the National Parks, Stephen Mather, and continuing today, these parks have exemplified America's boundless natural beauty. Each park and monument is steeped in history, preserved for future generations, and waiting to be explored.

National Geographic invites you to the party

National Geographic has had a close relationship with our National Parks throughout its history so naturally, Nat Geo is playing an integral part in the Centennial Celebration.  From  special expeditions, outreach programs, partnerships and great courses, Nat Geo is participating and inviting everyone to visit or re-visit the National Parks in 2016.

Books, books and more books!

As part of its involvement in the 100th Anniversary, National Geographic is featuring a variety of special edition books commemorating the big event. Activity books, family guides and of course the ever-popular Junior Ranger program are tailored specifically for 2016.

Something for Everyone

With 59 parks fully-designated by Congress and another 400 parks and monuments created by executive order, there is truly something for everyone.  Perennial favorites such as the Grand Canyon, Yellow Stone, Monmouth Cave, offer unique adventures with every season.

Spend a lot, or spend a little. The National Parks offer something for every budget - from high-end accommodations to tents and cabins - there's a wide range of choices to let visitors create their ideal park experience. 

The parks are intentionally accessible to all Americans. Because the parks belong to the American people, from the inception, it was Stephen Mather's desire to make the National Parks as accessible to automobiles as possible and to include an abundance of trails and hotels.

Say Hello to the Rangers!

It's important to stop at the visitors center.  Rangers are passionate about the parks and perform one of the most demanding jobs in the world.  In the early days,  Mather envisioned being a ranger as a calling rather than just a job, and it is. Rangers undergo rigorous training and education.  They also offer a wealth of knowledge to share with visitors.  Don't forgo spending some time with these incredibly dedicated professionals.
more Mt Rainier

Take Away

With all the special resources and events National Geographic and the U.S. National Parks is offering to commemorate the Centennial Anniversary, 2016 is THE year to "Explore the Power of Parks."

 As Cochran so eloquently puts it, "A day in the National Parks is a transcendent experience you'll never forget. There's so much to see and do and each park is new in each season. Share the experience with someone who's never been.  They'll thank you."

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