You're invited to the party of the century. August 25, 2016, is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service.

1. Celebrate the day with the National Park Service.

Admission to all national parks is free August 25-28. Join the NPS at parks around the country for centennial celebrations that include everything from Sing Across America (performances by youth and children's choirs at multiple locations, including Yellowstone) to naturalization ceremonies in seven national parks: Biscayne National Park, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trial, Grand Canyon National Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

On the big birthday, there’s An Evening at the Arch in Yellowstone (Wyoming), the grand opening of the Huna Tribal House at Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska), and a time capsule burial and “first light” commemoration at the Great Basin National Park Observatory (Nevada). August 28 will see a Founders Day Celebration at Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona), with food, concert, train exhibit, and special programs.

Find more NPS celebration info through the end of the anniversary year here.

2. Meet the fathers of the national parks.

Reacquaint yourself with national park hall of famers who helped birth the park system, most notably John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt.

Learn about Muir and the John Muir National Historic Site in San Francisco Bay Area’s Marin County. Or visit it virtually through Houzz.

Visit Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and read about the great conservation president’s life-altering time in the beautiful Badlands of North Dakota.

Photography: Courtesy All Eyes Media LLC
Photography: Courtesy All Eyes Media LLC

3. Tune in to National Park Radio.

No, not the station you check near the park to see if you’re going to have to put on tire chains on Badger Pass Road in Yosemite. We’re talking about the band National Park Radio. Led by singer-songwriter-acoustic guitarist-John Muir-beard-sporting Stefan Szabo, it’s variously described as “Americana, roots, indie-folk, or simply music to get up and dance to — think The Band by way of neo-revivalists Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers.”

Plug into their outdoor-loving ethos by watching a YouTube video of an April 2016 event at Buffalo National River, when the band partnered with the National Park Service for a special concert to celebrate National Park Week and the 100th anniversary of the NPS. The dancing crowd — including some of the coolest park rangers ever — will remind you of fun times in national parks. If you dig the happy scene, the band invites you to contact them to plan a concert like this in your area. Visit the band’s website.

“The great divide is calling me/High upon the mountaintop/The miles of freedom never stop. ...” Relate to those lyrics from the band’s song “The Great Divide”? Enter our National Park Radio giveaway for a chance to win The Great Divide CD.

Photography: Courtesy Anderson Design Group
Photography: Courtesy Anderson Design Group

4. Pick your favorite park poster.

Page through 59 Illustrated National Parks: 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, 160 pages of wonderful retro poster renderings. Created by the artists of Anderson Design Group in Nashville, Tennessee, and “printed with pride in the U.S.A.,” the artwork’s inspired by classic poster design from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Luckily, you won’t have to take the book off your coffee table and cut it up to frame the pages for your walls: There’s also a poster collection, postcards, and a 72-page coloring book. Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Photography: Courtesy Airstream
Photography: Courtesy Airstream

5. Hit the national park highways and byways.

What’s 28 feet long, silver, shiny, spectacular, and can sleep up to six? Airstream’s Pendleton Limited Edition, a collaboration between Airstream and Pendleton Woolen Mills to pay tribute to 100 years of the National Park Service. The impulse was born of a desire “to celebrate the wild lands of the great outdoors and those who preserve and protect them.” It’s uber camping for nature lovers who just can’t do the two-man-tent thing anymore.

6. Get artistic with it.

Meet Hike and Draw studio artists Karla Sanders and Andres Quintero on their National Park Quest to visit all 59 national parks and create vintage-style posters that capture the magical essence of each park. Their goal: to inspire wonder for the parks through their art and meet other artists who are similarly inspired. Check out their national park posters, park maps, videos, and blog. Order some, get inspired, and hit the parks. And be sure to pack a sketchbook and easel.

7. Instagram with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Who knows the parks better than the department that oversees the National Park Service? With their Instagram photos, the folks at the Department of the Interior prove they know a place pretty enough to protect and preserve when they see it.


8. Get an NPS object lesson — one fascinating object at a time.

Spend some quality time on Google Arts and Culture with the National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit, a treasure trove of some of the more than 45 million objects and specimens and 76,181 linear feet of archives in collections managed at more than 380 parks and seven centers.

9. Read more C&I parks-related stories.

In case you missed them or just want to reimmerse in the read, check out some of our national parks content we’ve published over the years. Then, gather around the campfire with us and tell us your national park stories and post your pictures.

10. Rough it (or glamp it) with Rough Guides.

The travel-guide outfit does a fabulous job of showing what’s so great about our national parks. Their content points you in the right direction to live out the Rough Guide motto, “Make the most of your time on earth.” See Rough Guides’ park pictures.

Check out Rough Guides’ 59 Things You Didn’t Know, park by park.