Five Ways to Celebrate National Park Week
From the wetlands in Florida’s Everglades to the sharp peaks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and everything in-between, national parks are the United States’ crowning jewels. This National Park Week (April 16–24, 2022), explore our country’s breathtaking landscape, rich history, and fun recreational opportunities with your kids.
Learn the History
Seeing a need to protect and preserve more than two million acres of land in Montana and Wyoming, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Act on March 1, 1872. As a result of this act, Yellowstone became the first national park for Americans to access and enjoy.
As more national parks were established, the responsibility of overseeing them was transferred between the U.S. Departments of War, Agriculture, and Interior over the next 44 years. Then, on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service, a bureau of the Department of the Interior, to operate all national parks.
Today, the National Park Service oversees 423 areas, including national parks, battlefields, military parks, historic sites, memorials, monuments, parkways, seashores, rivers, trails, and more. For a full breakdown of what each designation means, check out the National Park Service’s “Discover National Park System Designations” article.
Explore Your State’s National Parks
Nurture a love of history and an adventurous spirit in your child by taking them to parks and historic sites in your backyard. Fourth graders and their families can visit national parks for free through the Every Kid Outdoors program. If your child is not a fourth-grade student, you can still visit national parks for free on April 16th. Find a park in your state using the National Park Service’s search tool and start making new memories!
Take a (Virtual) Hike
Even if you don’t live near the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Arches National Park, you can still visit these natural wonders on your computer. Hike along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and walk to the Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls without wearing your hiking boots!
Dig Into Science
National parks aren’t only beautiful places to hike — they’re also rich in fossils and artifacts just waiting to be unearthed! Teach your kids about geology, paleontology, and archaeology using the National Park Service’s free resources.
Paleontology: Dinosaur fossils and footprints dating back millions of years ago were discovered in at least 21 National Park Service areas. Kids can virtually trek through parks and learn about these fossils in the “Fossil Footprints Across Our Parks” interactive program.
Archaeology: Artifacts such as glass beads, micro-blades, and bone and copper arrows were uncovered at historic sites nationwide. Young aspiring archaeologists can learn about how these artifacts were excavated and analyzed through the Junior Archaeologist program.
Geology: Geologists measure Earth’s history using a geologic time scale, which is separated into eons, eras, periods, epochs, and ages. Kids can learn how a geologic time scale works by making a timeline using the National Park Service’s “It’s About Time” activity.
Become a Junior Ranger
Does your child enjoy exploring the great outdoors? If so, the National Park Service Junior Ranger program is for them! Junior Rangers learn about wildlife, history, and nature through interactive and printable activities, virtual tours, and explorations of national parks. To earn their Junior Ranger Badge, participants will need to complete an activity book online or in person at a participating park.
Check out our national park mysteries, coloring books, and readers for more information and adventures about our national parks.