We stay in a land of giants, legends, and historical historical past. Early descriptions of the areas that might ultimately grow to be our nationwide parks, most frequently advised by explorers or laborers, have been so international and fantastical to the common individual that they merely weren’t believed. Even right now, the parks’ grandeur can solely totally be comprehended in individual. However the majesty of Yosemite, Sequoia, and Yellowstone proved all too actual, prompting a radical thought; some say it was America’s greatest thought ever.
The thought was easy and conceived in earnest: protect these lands in order that they could flourish and feed the human spirit of each era to return. Because of the Nationwide Park Service (NPS), greater than 14 billion guests since 1904 have had the prospect to do exactly that: to expertise the spectacular scale, historical past, and uncooked magnificence of those environments.
The creation of the nationwide parks as we all know them right now—over 400 areas, with 85 million acres in 50 states and different territories—was a hard-won achievement. It was a battle fought by pioneers, politicians, scientists, and artists alike to protect these environments properly past the scope of their very own lives. People like John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and numerous others have been integral in facilitating these protections.
In August 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Natural Act, which formally established the Nationwide Park Service as a federal bureau within the Division of the Inside. The NPS was tasked with defending the nationwide parks and monuments already established as much as that time and any future parks that might be created. A 1933 govt order transferred 56 pre-existing monuments and historic websites to the purview of the NPS. At the moment, new nationwide parks are created by way of acts of Congress.
The significance of those lands goes again additional than explorations of the Western wilderness, additional than the passage of protecting laws. Most of the areas through which the nationwide parks reside are important cultural heritage websites for the communities of American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians who’ve lived and flourished in these lands since time immemorial. The primary stewards of those lands lived right here lengthy earlier than the NPS; defending and sharing these histories is a necessary responsibility of the NPS because it makes an attempt to protect the legacy of its parks.
Utilizing quite a lot of historic sources such because the Nationwide Park Service, Stacker compiled a listing of the 25 oldest established nationwide parks in America. The world of every park is present as of 2017. As a result of 2020 was such an outlier 12 months by way of guests due to COVID-19, we included customer numbers from 2019 as properly. Any parks which have been disbanded since their founding or have merged with different nationwide parks usually are not included within the listing.
Learn on for an summary of the historical past and defining traits of the 25 oldest nationwide parks.
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