National Parks: 100 Years of Awe Inspiring Natural Beauty

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Did you know that today is the 100th birthday of the National Parks? Not to be confused with Nationals Park – although on this blog, I can see where the confusion would come into play.
On August 25, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service and established a new federal bureau within the Department of the Interior that was responsible for the care and maintenance of the 35 parks and monuments already in place…as well as those that were yet to be established. The purpose of these national parks was simple: “to conserve the scenery and the national and historic objects and wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for the future generations…” 
The National Park system now covers some 400 different parks, monuments and areas that make up 84 million acres in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico Saipan and the US Virgin Islands. I thought I’d celebrate the National Parks 100th Birthday by sharing some (okay – probably a lot) pictures from my travels to various monuments and memorials run by the National Park Service…as well as the National Parks!
Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York Harbor
Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Ellis Island, New York
Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado
Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado
Pikes Peak, Colorado
The Summit of Mt. LeConte, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee
In case you haven’t noticed…my family has a special spot in our hearts for the mountains; specifically the Appalachians. Growing up, we spent at least one week a year; if not more, in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Long before I moved to Virginia, my family had also made a point to travel farther into the chain of mountains that make up the Appalachians and visited Shenandoah National Park. Now that I live in Virginia, the entrance to Shenandoah National Park is within a few short miles from my front door!
Yorktown, Virginia
The Washington Monument, Washington DC
Mission Concepcion, Texas
The Alamo, Texas
Hoover Dam, Nevada
Hen Wallow Falls, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee
The Summit of Pikes Peak, Colorado
I’ve visited 36 states in my 31 (almost 32) years and have been able to see numerous National Parks, monuments and memorial in that time. I credit my well-traveled lifestyle to my parents – who have always thought it was important that my younger sister and I see the world around us and take in the history that made the United States what it is today. We’ve been as far South as the Everglades, to glimpse alligators while we were being feasted on by mosquitoes and I have (so far) been as far North and West as the great state of Washington to take in the dramatic sea stacks and pebble strewn beaches.
Elkmont, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Cades Cove, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee
The US Sculpture Garden, Washington DC
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado
First Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington
Second Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington
As I mentioned – I now live mere miles from the entrance to one of the United States’ National Parks…and just a short drive up the interstate is a city that contains the motherlode of monuments, memorials and markers to the history of the United States. Living in Virginia; one of the original thirteen colonies, I am ensconced in a land that is steeped in history. The land has been witness to some of the most defining moments in our nation’s history. Moments that have been preserved for the world to see. To recognize. And to remember.
Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland
Great Smokey Mountains National Park – Tennessee
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Fort McHenry, Maryland
Rapidan Camp, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The US Capitol, Washington DC
The National Mall, Washington DC
The Tulip Library, Washington DC
Cherry Blossom Memorial, Washington DC
Luray Caverns, Virginia
Do you have a favorite National Park? Perhaps there is a park you’re looking forward to visiting? Myself, I’d like to see Yellowstone National Park. It is; after all, the very first National Park! 
Happy 100th Birthday to the National Parks!
United States National Arboretum, Washington DC
World War II Memorial, Washington DC
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland

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