The National Park Service, or NPS, is turning the big 100 this month – and we can’t wait to celebrate its birthday.
In honor of the centennial celebrations taking place this year, let’s take a look back to August 25, 1916 when the creation of the agency took place.
As recounted in The National Parks Conservation Association’s “The Visionaries,” it all began over a bonfire in 1915 when Stephen Tyng Mather, the assistant to the Secretary of Interior, convinced more than a dozen of the country’s most influential men during their 12 day nature walk to help support the effort of establishing a government agency to protect the parks for future generations.
In 1916 the efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson signed “The Organic Act,” mandating an established agency, now called the National Park Service, “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
To celebrate the century old birthday of this great agency, the National Park Service invites you to “Find Your Park.” But why visit just one when you can visit all five of Utah’s national parks? Inspired by the Washington Post’s How to Visit Nearly Every National Park in One Epic Road Trip, we have put together the ultimate road trip through all the national parks in Utah.
With the help of Google Maps (our loyal guide), we calculated that the shortest path through every national park in Utah would be 340 miles long and take around six hours to drive through non-stop.
Starting from Zion, where you’ll be surrounded by massive sandstone cliffs, and ending on the colorful canyons of Canyonlands, here’s how to explore all of the dynamic national parks Utah offers – in one memorable road trip.
Stop #1: Zion | Springdale, UT
Taking the title of Utah’s first national park, Zion lets you follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. You’ll see massive sandstone cliffs and a unique array of plants and animals that’ll make you look at nature in a new light.
Stop #2: Bryce Canyon | Bryce, UT
Bryce Canyon offers the largest collection of hoodoos in the world! The odd-shaped pillars of rock come in many different shapes and sizes, and each represent what was left standing from the forces of erosion over the years.
Stop #3: Capitol Reef | Torrey, UT
Located in south-central Utah, Capitol Reef epitomizes what red rock country is all about. Its cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges will leave you breathless. You’ll learn about the Archaic hunters and gatherers who called this land their homeland before the arrival of European settlers.
Stop #4: Arches | Moab, UT
Thanks to its landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any in the world, Arches is one of the state’s most photographed parks. This red rock wonderland is mainly known for its over 2,000 natural stoned arches that amaze visitors from all over the world.
Stop #5: Canyonlands | Moab, UT
With countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes, Canyonlands is something you have to see in person to truly understand its beauty. The park is divided by four districts due to the rivers flowing. Each district offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.
Are you inspired to get in on the anniversary fun? Pack your bags and check out what the state’s national parks are all about for an adventure you’ll never forget.
Bonus: Bring your energetic fourth grader along for the ride. Thanks to the Every Kid in a Park program, fourth graders can visit all of the country’s national parks for free for an entire year!