Fun Facts About U.S. National Parks: The Basics

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service, Alamo is sharing 100 fun facts ranging from interesting to downright bizarre.

The U.S. National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. In honor of the centennial, we will be sharing 100 facts, from the basic to the bizarre, to inspire you to join in the celebration at one of the many beautiful national parks across the country.

To begin, here are 12 things you may not have known about the makeup and history of U.S. national parks:

1) The National Park Service (NPS) manages 411 sites.
2) Of those, 59 are national parks.
3) The remaining sites include national memorials, seashores, historic sites, battlefields and more.

The National Park Service (NPS) manages 411 sites.

4) Several former prisons are under the management of the National Park Service, including Alcatraz, Andersonville, Fort McHenry and Dry Tortugas.

Alcatraz Island

5) The president even lives on land managed by the National Park Service. The White House is part of President’s Park.
6) The National Park Service manages a wide variety of sites due to its mission to preserve sites containing American natural, historical and cultural significance.
7) The National Park Service is under the direction of the U.S. Department of the Interior and has been since President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an act that established the National Park Service on Aug. 25, 1916.
8)  At the time, there were only 35 national parks and monuments to oversee.
9) However, the first national park, Yellowstone, was actually established 44 years earlier in 1872.

Yellowstone National Park

10) Even earlier, in 1832, what is now Hot Springs National Park was protected as a federal reservation. This was the first time the federal government had set aside land for the primary use of recreation.

Hot Springs National Park

11) In 1951, the familiar NPS arrowhead was designated as the system’s official emblem.
12) The emblem includes the following symbolism: the sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead itself represents historical and archaeological values.

About the Author

Danielle Taylor is a freelance writer whose work covers outdoor recreation, conservation, public lands and travel. She's spending much of 2016 on a road trip to America's national parks. To learn about her work and travels, follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and visit her website.

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