Each April, outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists, and explorers throughout the country honor our public lands during National Park Week (NPW). This year, we celebrate America’s treasures from April 17 - 25, 2021. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of NPW, during which we pay our respects to the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, and the Department of Interior for protecting the lands we love to explore.
Our national parks provide the opportunity to connect with the world around us and give us an excuse to put our phones down and “disconnect”. They also stimulate thought and inspiration! With over 400 National Park Service (NPS) units across the country (consisting of designated historical parks and sites; memorial sites; wildlife refuges; monuments; battlefields; seashores; recreation areas; and more), there is sure to be a place where you can let your imagination run wild. During NPW, visitors are encouraged to explore and enjoy the wonders of the outdoors. So, what can you do to celebrate?
Well… explore the outdoors! It is peak waterfall and wildflower season and you can also pack up your binoculars to go birding. There are public lands all around us; you’ll likely be surprised at how close you live to a national park. Find one near your home here and plan your adventure. It is vital to be prepared when you hit the outdoors, so be sure to pack snacks, water and a mask for current NPS mask regulations #RecreateResponsibly. The outdoor movement offers a starting point to keep yourself safe and protect our public lands. Below is a graphic from the Recreate Responsibly organization:
If this is your first time checking out a national park, another great resource is the #FindYourPark Pics & Recs blog. It is an online community of explorers and park enthusiasts. You can share a memory or photos while reading up on park recommendations.
Consider a virtual tour if you’re unable to head to a national park in-person this year. Many parks are offering virtual tours of historical and beautifully protected lands. Find a tour here.
Each NPW, the National Park Foundation hosts themed days to encourage exposure to our nation's diverse natural and cultural heritage. Visitors can take advantage of the special programs and activities offered during the week online or outside. Check out the packed schedule below:
April 17: Park Rx Day
A free admission day kicks off the week so you can more easily engage with nature: some of the best “medicine!”. You can become a Park Health Ambassador by promoting the growing movement of going outdoors to improve your health and wellbeing. If you share #BeforeAndAfterParkRx, you’ll have a chance to be featured on the official National Park Service photo gallery.
This is a special day to thank all volunteers for their efforts in protecting our parks. Volunteers, give yourself a pat on the back! If you’re looking for more ways to give back, you can find info on volunteering here.
The National Park Service, in partnership with Operations Live Well, gives thanks to active-duty military and veterans as well as their families. Their hope is to provide a place of solitude and recreation for those honoring our country. If you share on social media, be sure to use #MilitaryMonday to show your support.
NPS has been protecting and preserving public lands and historic structures for over 100 years! On Tuesday, celebrate all the ways our parks have changed over the years with the help of NPS, NPF, and partners. They vow to continue working towards landscape and wildlife conservation as well as preserving the history and culture of our lands for future generations.
Memories are made in the parks! The NPS works to preserve the history, culture, and historic sites and artifacts in national parks across the country. This day would be a great time to reminiscence with your family and friends about your best memories visiting a park. If you do share, be sure to use #WaybackWednesday.
NPF and partners are dedicated to protecting the natural resources our parks contain. Earth Day celebrates the education and stewardship of our neighborhood spaces, national parks and even your backyards. Share your Earth Day experience with #EarthDay and remember the daily global theme of “Restore Our Earth.”
Our parks rely on partners, groups, and communities to help protect the parks we explore. On this day, NPS thanks all the partners that have helped them continue their mission. As NPW comes to a close, share your favorite partnerships, go outdoors with your friends or find ways to volunteer, donate or support a park near you.
This day is all about the little ones. The Junior Ranger programs help young park visitors connect with the shared history and heritage inside the national parks. The program provides education where they can “explore, learn, and protect” online or in person. Learn more about the Junior Ranger program here and be sure to check out the NPS Kids portal.
April 25: B.A.R.K. Ranger Day
On the last day of National Park Week, we celebrate our furry friends who love the parks as much as we do. You can help your pup become a part of the BARK Ranger pack by following key practices while exploring together:
B- Bag your pet’s waste
A - Always leash your pet
R- Respect wildlife
K - Know where you go
During National Park Week and all year long, we celebrate our nation’s natural diversity and cultural heritage. In an effort to preserve the special places we get to experience, we are offering a buy one get one half off special on all of our maps now through April 25.