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National Geographic Celebrates 100th Year Of National Park Service

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In celebration of 100th year of National Park Service, National Geographic has released “The Power of Parks: A Year Long Exploration”.  The project aims to explore the US national parks, as well as other parks from around the world. This includes launching an online portal dedicated to national parks, a 12-month series in National Geographic, National Geographic Channel Specials, and new books and educational resources that will help people to better understand and encourage them to visit and explore natural parks.

The January issue of National Geographic magazine is entitled “How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We Are” by David Quammen and kicks off the magazine's year-long exploration of the power of parks.

The writer gives an introduction on the history of national parks and says eloquently, “They’re more than scenic places. They’re a nation’s common ground.”

The article features hauntingly beautiful images of parks captured both daytime and nighttime by world renowned photographer Stephen Wilkes.

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We ArePhoto courtesy of National Geographic

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We Are
©Stephen Wilkes/National Geographic

The Grand Canyon is the touchstone American park; whatever happens here could have repercussions throughout the park system. It has withstood threats from ranching, mining, and logging interests and a federal dam project. Today’s challenges include a proposed town development on the South Rim and a tramway that would bring 10,000 visitors a day to the canyon floor.

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We Are©Stephen Wilkes/National Geographic

“Today I am in the Yellowstone Park, and I wish I were dead.” So Rudyard Kipling began his 1889 account of a tour in America’s oldest national park. His disdain was aroused most by the “howling crowd” of tourists with whom he shared the visit. Attractions such as Old Faithful still draw more than three million (mostly well behaved) visitors yearly to Yellowstone; the vast majority of them never go beyond a hundred yards from a paved road. If Kipling himself had ventured deeper into the 3,472-square-mile park to witness the splendor of its river valleys and mountain meadows, his rant might well have given way to rapture.

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We ArePhotograph by Hulton Archive/Getty Images | Courtesy of National Geographic

Standing tall on the aptly named Grandeur Point, a cowboy surveys the Grand Canyon around 1935. President Theodore Roosevelt called the steep-sided gorge in Arizona “a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.” 

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We Are
©Stephen Wilkes/National Geographic 

In March 1868 a 29-year-old John Muir stopped a passerby in San Francisco to ask for directions out of town. “Where do you wish to go?” the startled man inquired. “Anywhere that is wild,” said Muir. His journey took him to the Yosemite Valley in California’s Sierra Nevada, which became the spiritual home of Muir’s conservation movement and, under his guidance, the country’s third national park. “John the Baptist,” he wrote, “was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.” Today around four million people a year follow their own thirst for the wild to Yosemite. 

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We Are©Stephen Wilkes/National Geographic

On an April day cherry blossoms festoon West Potomac Park, part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. While the grand parks of the West may elicit more gasps of awe, urban parks draw far more visitors. The National Mall hosts 24 million a year, almost twice the number of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon combined.

How National Parks Tell Our Story – and Show Who We Are
Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Visit Explore the Power of Parks to know more about the campaign and discover how you can help to preserve the natural places.

Images are from the January issue of National Geographic magazine.

Photos are courtesy of National Geography.