7 Unforgettable National Park Moments: Happy Birthday NPS!

98 years ago, Congress created the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior. Today we celebrate what has been described as “America’s Best Idea”.

To celebrate, Luke and I would like to share our favorite spots and pictures. We thank the National Park Service, the Rangers, volunteers, and other visitors, that care for the parks. We also owe a great deal of gratitude to organization such as the National Parks Foundation, National Park Conservation Association, the Sierra Club and all the foundations that individually support the parks. Thanks for enabling our fun!

Santa Elena Canyon: Big Bend National Park

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Hiking in Santa Elena Canyon was stunning. The easy, 1.7-mile hike along the Rio Grande River show how powerful water can be. It also shows how much impact humans can have. The old river levels are easily visible and it is shocking how much lower the river now lies. Conservation and thoughtful planning are critical in saving beautiful places like this. We talk more about Big Bend NP here.

Racetrack Valley: Death Valley National Park

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These rocks move… and no one knows why. There is speculation that rain, mud, and wind are involved but nothing is confirmed. Fortunately, mysteries still abound. One of the purposes of the National Park Service is to preserve places of scientific significance. Since these rocks lay in the wilderness, study methods are limited, but who wants every question answered right now? Not me. Leave some mystery. Read about our hikes in Racetrack Valley here.

Gunsight Lake: Glacier National Park

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Gunsight Lake cannot be properly experienced through a picture. The alpine lake is outrageously stunning. Camping is available lakeside and must be a fabulous place to sleep. We took a long lunch here and could not stop staring at this beautiful lake. Pack in a raft if you can, there must be great joy awaiting on the water. Not far from the lake lies the diminishing Blackfoot Glacier. Read about the Gunsight Lake hike here.

Eisenhower National Historic Site

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Not all National Park Sites are vast areas of open, undeterred land. The NPS strives to preserve America’s cultural, as well as natural, resources. This shot was taken from the Eisenhower National Historic Site. The former president raised Black Angus Cattle and various food products. A local rancher is able to use the land as long as he maintains historical integrity. This part of Western Pennsylvania is gorgeous country. Read about Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHP here.

Cliff Dwellings: Walnut Canyon National Monument

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Talk about impressive use of resources! The Sinaqua, a prehistoric community, lived in this area from 600-1400 AD and built these cliff dwellings. The dwelling represent an important time in the history of our land and are a testament to human ingenuity. There are multiple NPS units that manage cliff dwellings and other Native American sites. Read our Northern Arizona Pueblos adventure here.

Ruple Point: Dinosaur National Monument

Ruple Point

This is the view from Ruple Point in Dinosaur National Monument. A dam was almost built below the monument which would have flooded much of the area. Fortunately, the public stepped up and said no. Instead the dam was built upriver and has created flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The river ecosystem has suffered because of the dam which blocks the natural flow of the Green River, but the canyon remains. This is the best view we found of the Green River on our trip to Dinosaur National Monument. Read more here.

Bumpass Hell: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Heaven or Hell

Our hike out to Bumpass Hell from the Southwest Campground taught us a lot. For instance, bringing extra food and clothes IS important. We were glad to have them when our hike turned into a struggle against time and snow. The trail from the road was closed but we approached from the other direction and were unaware. Luckily, we had the necessary route-find and snow skills to get out alive. Reaching the road, hours after we planned, was a giant relief. Read more here.