In honor of its centennial birthday approaching this month, the National Park Service (NPS) is inviting people across the country to #FindYourPark.
The NPS has been in charge of caring for the United States’ national parks since 1916, and each year, they welcome over 275 million visitors to the 412 national parks across the country.
In honor of the anniversary, the NPS will be hosting events across the country throughout the month, and from August 25 to August 28, they will be offering free admission to all the parks.
In Tennessee alone, we have twelve national parks and a total of 15 sites associated with or managed by the NPS:
- Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail
- Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
- Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
- Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
- Fort Donelson National Battlefield
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Manhattan Project National Historic Park
- Natchez Trace Parkway
- Obed Wild and Scenic River
- Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
- Shiloh National Military Park
- Stones River National Battlefield
- Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
- Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
If you’re in Memphis like I am, I would suggest Shiloh National Military Park. Located in Shiloh, Tennessee near Pickwick Lake, it’s only a two-hour drive to the park from the city.
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis encourages everyone to join them in August to celebrate our country’s amazing national parks. In a press release, Jarvis said:
“We like to think that we look pretty good for 100, and with so many events and activities to commemorate this milestone, we hope all Americans will join us to celebrate the breathtaking landscapes and inspiring history in our nation’s parks and public lands. Whether it is in a distant state or in your own community, there are hundreds of ways and places to find your park.”
In addition to the hundreds of events they will be hosting, you can visit their new website FindYourPark.com as part of the #FindYourPark promotion. With the hashtag #FindYourPark, the NPS is encouraging park visitors across the country to share their park experiences and stories across social media.
They’re also holding a Centennial Summer Sweepstakes where you can enter to win a 6-day trip to the Grand Canyon National Park.
Even with a century under their belt, the NPS has shown a consistently growing number of visitors. In January of this year, the NPS announced that more than 305 million people visited national parks in 2015, which is more than the record-breaking number from the previous year.
As the head of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, I promote and advocate for anything positive that supports, grows, and benefits the tourism and travel industry in the United States. The U.S. NPS does all these things and more.
A study shows that in 2015, visitors to the parks in the NPS spent an estimated $16.9 billion in local gateway regions, which are areas within roughly 50 miles of the park, supported 295,300 jobs, and output $32 billion into the national economy.
In Tennessee parks alone, park visitors spent $608.5 million in 2015.
This directly affects so many sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, as the money was spent on gas and transportation, hotels and accommodations, food, shopping, and additional recreational activities.
All in all, there is just no doubt that the national parks are economic, historical, and natural benefits to our travel and tourism industry and economy as a whole.
That’s why I encourage you in joining the NPS and myself in finding your park to celebrate their 100th birthday in August.
You can take a look at all the events they will be hosting next month here.