The marking of a centennial represents an expanse that most people don’t experience personally. 100 years is a very long time. It’s a milestone, it’s an achievement; especially for a country that just celebrated its 240th birthday and whose first national park, Yellowstone National Park, was created 144 years ago.

And yet here we are, marking 100 years of the National Park Service on August 25th, celebrating all year long and spreading the word far and wide!

Take a few minutes to talk with your friends, your colleagues, your neighbors, and ask them what the national parks mean to them. You may be surprised to uncover as many different answers and stories as people you’ve asked. That’s due to one of the secrets of the national parks – they are not all things to all people, but instead they are millions of unique and meaningful moments to individuals. The range of national parks speaks to the uniqueness of everyone’s experiences. The memories have been growing for 100 years with the National Park Service.

Green grassy hills on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail

From the stunning Yosemite National Park in all its glory to Point Reyes National Seashore (home to 1,000 species of plants and animals, including thirty-eight threatened and endangered species); from Dry Tortugas National Park (site of the never-completed Fort Jefferson and located 70 miles from Key West) to the widely beloved majesty of Grand Canyon National Park (with far too many features to list here).

Each of these parks, and the hundreds of others across the United States, represents a unique place in geography, history, and nature. To you, no matter where you live, they are a launching pad for adventure, for bonding, for memories and history making.

The National Park Service has been ensuring this is true for the past 100 years and together, we are helping to ensure this remains true into the future.

Sunset on the misty rugged California coastline at Point Reyes National Seashore

And right now, in this celebration of the centennial and looking forward to the future, there is no better time to discover all that the parks have to offer. Discover new parks and special events happening all around the country at and take advantage of fee-free days coming up, from August 25 through August 28, when you can access all national parks for free. You can even volunteer in the parks or make a gift to support the National Park Foundation’s mission to protect the national parks, connect people to the parks, and inspire the next generation of park stewards.

There are millions more unique and meaningful moments waiting to be made in the national parks. Why not get out there, find your park, and begin making new memories today?

Photo credits: Grand Canyon – Peter Coskun, Share the Experience 2012; Point Reyes National Seashore- Ryan Prawiradjaja, Share the Experience 2015