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More than 400 national park units are waiting for you to explore them. If there was ever a good time to visit them, National Park Week is it. Each National Park System unit celebrates the week differently, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and explore a new park.
So what is National Park Week, and when is it? Grab your calendar and a pencil, and let’s find out!
What Is National Park Week?
National Park Week is an annual event celebrating national parks throughout the United States. In addition, it’s an opportunity to focus on the natural and cultural heritage they represent.
Visitors can participate in special events and programs throughout the week. Additionally, guests can receive discounts at national park units nationwide.
Guided hikes, ranger-led programs, wildlife viewing, and cultural demonstrations are just some of the events on tap. The week provides an incredible opportunity to learn more about the history and conservation of these treasured public lands.
The National Park Service, which manages and protects over 400 sites across the United States, organizes the event. They team up with the National Park Foundation to celebrate almost everything related to the parks.
The week highlights the importance of national parks as important cultural and natural resources. In addition, National Park Week encourages adventurers to visit and enjoy these special places responsibly.
When Is National Park Week?
National Park Week is an annual event that typically takes place in late April. It often coincides with Earth Day (April 22) and National Junior Ranger Day (April 24).
The 2023 National Park Week runs from April 22 to 30. So mark your calendars and start planning how to celebrate this important week this year!
When Was National Park Week Established?
The first National Park Week happened in 1991 to encourage people to explore and appreciate the various resources the park units provide. The National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, created and organized the week.
Since its inception, the event has grown in popularity and has become an important celebration for NPS. It encourages individuals to get outdoors and appreciate the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage that surrounds them.
What Is the Theme for National Park Week in 2023?
The theme for National park Week 2023 is #YourParkStory. The hundreds of national park units have stories, and so do their visitors. The theme’s goal is for guests to celebrate the incredible experiences and powerful moments where history happened.
Park visitors may never forget many moments of the experience. It could be driving Going to the Sun Road at Glacier National Park, watching a bear skurry into the bushes at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, or watching Old Faithful erupt at Yellowstone. These are all moments that visitors can celebrate and remember for a lifetime.
Events to Celebrate National Park Week
Many of the NPS units will offer various events during National Park Week. These make great ways to celebrate. Some events are available throughout the year, and others are specific to the week.
Let’s see which events you might want to add to your calendar!
Sunrise Orientation – Haleakalā National Park
The Sunrise Orientation at Haleakalā National Park is an incredible way to kick off the celebration. However, if you don’t have to plan a trip to Hawaii during National Park Week, the event occurs every morning at sunrise.
While it is a free event, it does require an advanced sunrise reservation. The orientation briefly overviews the summit and its cultural significance as a sacred place.
Guests will learn about important rules and participate in a Hawaiian chant to welcome the rising sun and the start of a new day.
Cave Tours – Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is a must for anyone who enjoys exploring caves. The park offers several different cave tours, each offering a unique experience. However, the Historic Tour is one of the most popular.
The tours range in length from handicap-accessible tours to the extreme, including a six-hour trip that covers 6 miles.
Unfortunately, the park can’t offer all of the tours at the same time. Check the park’s tour schedule and plan ahead to make your reservations.
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Behind the Scenes Day – James A Garfield National Historic Site
One of the great things about National Park Week is the opportunity to see some places typically closed to the public.
During the celebration, James A Garfield National Historic Site offers guests a limited opportunity to go Behind the Scenes for free.
The event occurs on Saturday, April 22, 2023, from 9 a.m. to noon. Guests can walk through the home and explore the property.
You’ll see the home’s third floor, the windmill on the property, the historic barn, and so much more. Add this event to your calendar if you’re in the Cleveland, Ohio, area during the special week.
Guided Hike on the Islands – Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park sits just off the coast of California. It’s a hard-to-reach NPS unit only accessible by boat. However, if the weather cooperates and boats can travel to the island, you can participate in a guided hike.
The park offers these hikes throughout the day. The park announces locations, distances, and departure times during the visitor orientation to the island. So listen closely and pick a hike that suits you.
These guided hikes are great opportunities to learn from park rangers. You’ll hear their passion and love for the park and their jobs during the event.
Drakes Beach Discovery Hike – Point Reyes National Seashore
Traveling up the west coast, you’ll come across Point Reyes National Seashore. The national seashore here offers a one-hour guided walk along the beach.
The topics and content of the guided walks will vary based on the ranger. You’ll likely learn bits and pieces of geology, wildlife, and the area’s natural and human history.
These guided hikes are free from Jan. 14 through Sept. 30. However, they do require a reservation. You can contact the Bear Valley Visitor Center to reserve your spot.
Geology Talk – Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is one park you can’t overlook. The park offers a 30-minute Geology Talk every day at 3 p.m. It’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate National Park Week.
Rangers will spend the duration discussing the unique geological story of the park. During the talk, visitors will learn about the formation of the park’s distinctive landscape, including the colorful sandstone cliffs, towering rock formations, and canyons.
Visitors can ask a ranger or geologist questions, making the talk a fun and interactive learning experience. The geology talk at Capitol Reef National Park is a must-see for anyone interested in the natural history of this unique and beautiful landscape.
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Soar, Swim, and Stroll (Shark Valley) – Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is one of the most diverse NPS units. The park offers its 30-minute “Soar, Swim, and Stroll” event every day at 10:15 a.m. Visitors can stroll through Shark Valley with a ranger to learn about the animals that live there.
These ranger-led walks teach topics like history, wildlife, native plants, and many unique park features. Reservations are not needed, and you’ll need to inquire with the visitor center regarding the location of the tour for the day.
How Will You Celebrate National Park Week?
National Park Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the beauty and wonder of our national parks. You can celebrate by exploring a new place, participating in a volunteer project, or simply sharing your love for these natural treasures with others.
What are you waiting for? Start planning a visit or looking for a way to get involved in your local national park. Make this National Park Week one to remember!