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Celebrate 101 Years in National Parks

National Parks are fee-free on August 25, 2017
by Adam Roades, August 24th, 2017

On August 25, the National Park Service celebrates its 101st birthday! For 101 years, our parks have proved again and again why they are America's "best idea." Not only do they provide opportunities for people from around the country and world to immerse themselves in beauty and rich heritage of our natural resources, but they work diligently to protect and preserve those resources for the future. To celebrate, every National Park is inviting you to visit for free on August 25! This is the perfect opportunity to visit that park you've always wanted to visit or hike that TRACK Trail you've been dreaming of.

Find your Park and have the adventure of a lifetime. To make it easy, here is a quick cheat sheet of links to TRACK Trails at various NPS sites:

Antietam National Battlefield - Antietam was the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Blue Ridge Parkway - The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The Parkway travels along the crests of the Blue Ridge Mountains through 29 counties in North Carolina and Virginia. With breathtaking vistas around every turn, hundreds of miles of hiking trails to stretch your legs and more biological diversity than almost any other region in the United States, the Parkway is a Journey of a lifetime.

Congaree National Park - Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States.  Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support the growth of national and state champion trees.

Catoctin Mountain Park - Catoctin's diverse cultural resources provide several vignettes of our nation's history in one small location. Native Americans quarried rhyolite for the production of lithic tools. A charcoal and iron industry is still visible today, along with smaller industries including farms, sawmills, and an old moonshine still. Historic structures and products of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, along with the site of our nation's first Job Corps Center, are tangible reminders of the capability of vigorous youth programs to strengthen the nation's economic and social fabric.

Carl Sandburg Home NHS - Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site preserves Connemara, the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg. Sandburg and his family moved to this home in 1945 for the peace and solitude required for his writing and the land required for his wife, Lilian, to raise her champion dairy goats. Sandburg published more than a third of his works while he resided here. Don't miss the Citizen Science TRACK Trail while you're here!

C & O Canal NHP - Boats were used on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal for nearly 100 years to transport goods between Washington, D.C. and the mountains of Western Maryland. The canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural and recreational treasures!

Fort Laramie NHS - Fort Laramie began as a fur trading post in 1834 but soon grew into the largest military outpost in the Northern Plains. Located on the historic Oregon Trail, its history crosses paths of U.S. Soldiers, American Indians, pioneers, and fortune seekers. In addition to the TRACK Trail, visitors can also tour the restored buildings of the fort as well as numerous ruins. In the summer, interpreters in period dress bring the history of the fort alive.

Harpers Ferry NHP - The trail loops up on to Schoolhouse Ridge which was one of General T. “Stonewall” Jackson’s main battle lines during the Civil War. Under Jackson’s command, the Confederacy captured 12,5000 Union troops the largest surrender of Federal forces during the entire Civil War.

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial - Abraham Lincoln lived here from 1816 to 1830 as he grew from a boy to a young man. Take time as you hike the TRACK Trail to reflect on the past, present, and future. What has changed since Lincoln lived here? How might it change in the future? Keep your eyes and ears open for the trees, vegetation, and animals that call Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial home today.

Manassas National Battlefield - Manassas National Battlefield Park, established in 1940, preserves the sites of the First and Second Battles of Manassas. These important battlegrounds and associated monuments are nestled in over 5000 acres of meadows, woodlands and streams. 

Monocacy National Battlefield - In the summer of 1864, General Jubal Early led Confederate forces towards Washington, D.C. and threatened to capture the capital city. On July 9, Union troops under General Lew Wallace met Early's forces on the banks of the Monocacy. At Monocacy National Battlefield, visitors can experience this and other stories of the past in a landscape that has changed little since the 19th century.

National Mall and Memorial Parks - Constitution Gardens contains a large lake, the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, three Vietnam War memorials, and several walkways and park benches. Located in West Potomac Park, near the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW, along the northern edge of the National Mall, the area provides several opportunities for viewing the distinctive city skyline surrounding the U.S. Capitol building and the Washington Monument.

Overmountain Victory Trail in Rutherfordton and Orchard at Altapass - It was created by the United States Congress in 1980 and is 330 miles long, honoring an important event during our War for Independence. The Trail is administered by the National Park Service, with many partners along the route.

President's Park - Located in the center of downtown Washington, DC, President's Park includes the park land and gardens surrounding the White House. Amid the vibrant city life of our nation's capital, President's Park offers visitors, district residents, and even the President of the United States restorative green space, awe-inspiring memorials, and the White House itself to contemplate as a symbol of the United States and democracy.

Rock Creek Park - Rock Creek Park was founded in 1890 as one of the first federal parks. Its establishing legislation, cites the area's natural beauty and high public value. When the park was established, it was on the edge of the growing city and was already a favorite area for rural re-treat. In the establishing legislation, Rock Creek Park was 'dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States." 

Shenandoah National Park - The 200,000 acres of Shenandoah National Park are protected lands that are haven to deer, songbirds, and the night sky. Enjoy cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, and quiet wooded hollows. Take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Also check out the Limberlost TRACK Trail or Fox Hollow on your visit.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts - Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on 130 acres of National Park land in Fairfax County, Virginia near the town of Vienna. Along with hiking trails,  there are performances in the summer, sledding in the winter, and ranger programs all year long.