KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate the 98th birthday of the National Park Service on Monday, August 25. Park visitors are encouraged to participate in one of the many ranger-led programs at park visitor centers or enjoy exploring the park along a scenic roadway, trail, or river.
“We invite everyone to celebrate the founding of the National Park Service as we reflect on nearly 100 years of preserving America’s treasures,” said Great Smoky Mountains National Park Acting Superintendent Cindy MacLeod. “These special places belong to all of us. I am honored to celebrate this milestone in the Smokies where I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand how visitors, park descendants, and local communities appreciate and participate in the care of this special park. We look forward to the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.”
In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the world’s first national park. There were 37 national parks in the United States when President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to create the National Park Service on Aug. 25, 1916.
Today, there are 401 national parks throughout the country and each one tells an important part of the American story. Some commemorate notable people and achievements, others conserve magnificent landscapes and natural wonders, and all provide a place to have fun and learn.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934 preserving a wealth of natural and cultural resources along with over 385 miles of scenic roads, 800 miles of trails, 2,000 miles of streams, and 522,427 acres of mountains with 16 peaks exceeding 6,000 feet in elevation. Last year, more than 9.4 million park visitors enjoyed the park and added $734 million to the local economy and supported 10,734 area jobs.
The mission of the National Park Service also extends beyond park boundaries. Community partnerships help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.
While Great Smoky Mountains National Park has no entrance fees, park officials invite visitors to enjoy not only the Smokies, but also National Park units across the country that will waive entrance fees on August 25 in honor of the founding of the National Park Service.
For more information about things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/things2do.htm.