The National Park Service is Turning 100—Here’s What They’re Doing to Celebrate

New park programs and a major partnership help mark 100 years of fun on public land

America’s best idea is turning 100 in 2016. To mark such a momentous occasion, The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation have some big plans in the works, some of which are happening right now.

One such early celebration is an initiative called Find Your Park, which is an online tool that helps better connect people with the parks. Some of the main features include locating parks, in-park experiences and finding events. Also on the website, people can share their experiences with the help of social media, which puts them in the running for a contest called The Centennial Project. Winners will receive one of many prizes, and a lucky five people in particular will win the grand prize.

The birthday celebration events are just getting started, too. Right now in New York City, NPS and NPF are hosting a Find Your Park Virtual View Tour. The tour will also be stopping in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. At these events, virtual view kiosks allow people to experience parks across the country without leaving their city.

“When the National Park System was created in 1916, no one would have imagined that technology could someday enable schoolchildren in New York to explore parks thousands of miles away with the touch of a button,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “While we never want a virtual experience to replace a genuine connection, we are hopeful the display will provide a gateway that inspires people to visit their parks and fall in love with the beauty, history and culture that make up our national parks and public lands.”

It was also recently announced that REI will be the official outdoor retailer of the Centennial celebrations. What sets them apart from other sponsors is that the company has made a multimillion dollar pledge to the National Parks Foundation.

As the celebrations have already started and parks are coming into their busy season, be sure to check out our list of The Absolute Best National Parks and then go experience America’s best idea in person.

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