The National Park Service Turns 100 Today

Happy Centennial

Bering Land Bridge National Park

Bering Land Bridge National Park

Fall colors in Bering Land Bridge National Park.NPS Photo / Katie Cullen

The National Park Service turns 100 today, and it's come a long way in 100 years.

The first national park, Yellowstone, was actually founded in 1872, with other national parks added periodically after that. By 1916, there were 35 national parks, but no central group to maintain them. President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service in 1916, and since then it has grown from protecting 35 national parks, to protecting 412 designated areas covering 84 million acres.

Over 300 million people visit national parks every year, from the largest, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, which covers 13.2 million acres, to the smallest, Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania, which covers a grand total of 0.02 acres (it's a house).

The birthday wishes are starting to roll in from around the country, including a Google Doodle, and a quick video greeting from Oprah Winfrey:

In addition to special events around the country, the National Park Service is celebrating its birthday by making entrances to all national parks free of charge between August 25 and August 28.

100

It's finally here! Experience 0 to 100 with this video in honor of our 100th birthday! #FindYourPark #NPS100 Credit/Author: NPS, Mathew John Soundtrack: Cis Minor, “Today I Am Happy, As Never Before” Footage Provided by: Department of Interior | National Park Service | Florentine Films | Will and Jim Pattiz – More Than Just Parks | Jesse Rosten | Camp 4 Collective and Entropy Boy Productions | Brand USA | Gavin Heffernan | Ryan Light Films| David Lerman | Harun Mehmedinovic – Sky Glow Project | Ian Shive – Tandem Stills + Motion | Ryan Light | Steve Droter | Chris McKechnie

Posted by National Park Service on Thursday, August 25, 2016