A Foundation Over 50 Years In The Making


Setting the Course

From our very first days, we've been driven by a calling to serve and protect our national parks. Thanks to generations of park lovers, we're proud to take a look back on our first 50 years and set the stage for the future.

Lady Bird Johnson in her beloved Texas Hill Country

Frank Wolfe / LBJ Library


Established by Act of Congress

Through lobbying efforts of visionaries like First Lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson and philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, the official charter to establish the National Park Foundation (NPF), the successor to the National Park Trust Fund, was passed by Congress in 1967. 



Saving Our Park Land

NPF makes much needed land purchases at GettysburgBlue Ridge ParkwayVirgin IslandsMuir WoodsGrant-Kohrs Ranch, and Death Valley

National Park Service


Alaskan Anthropology

With funding from Ralston-Purina, NPF sponsors an anthropological study of native Alaskan village life along 1,300 miles of traditional dogsled trading routes.


A Foundation of Success

After our first decade, we dove right in to protecting some of our most treasured landscapes, historical places, and more. By working hand-in-hand with caring citizens, we established a true foundation for the years ahead.


More Than a Land Trust

NPF expands functions into communications programs, management assistance, education and anticipating future needs of the National Park Service.

National Park Service


Improving the Park Experience

To assist NPS in upgrading overnight national park facilities, NPF creates the Visitor Facilities Fund to help improve park visitor experiences. Funds help improve visitor facilities at Mammoth Cave, Glacier Bay, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Olympic, Padre Island, Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Dawn Kish

Dawn Kish


Restoration of Flags at Fort Sumter

A grant from the National Park Foundation helps to restore one of the two original flags housed at Fort Sumter.


Strong Communities

Our strength comes from the local organizations and individuals who rally to support our parks. From Friends Groups to volunteers, our local partners keep our parks accessible and beautiful.


Yellowstone Recovery Fund

The Yellowstone Fires of 1988 burned the park for several months, affecting almost 800,000 acres of park land. NPF established the Yellowstone Recovery Fund to raise needed funds to help the park recover from these devastating summer fires.

National Park Service


Museum of American Constitutional Government

NPF provides more than $2 million to the Museum of American Constitutional Government, which is dedicated at Federal Hall in New York. The museum features the nation's only permanent program devoted to teaching U.S. constitutional principles to New York City schoolchildren.

Dawn Kish


Parks As Classrooms

The Foundation helps the National Park Service launch the national Parks as Classrooms ® (PAC) education program, and receives a $1 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

National Park Service


Access for All

After a challenging trip to Grand Canyon National Park, disability-rights activist Wendy Carol Roth teamed up with the Foundation to found the Easy Access Park Challenge to increase accessibility in national parks. Over 100 national park sites have improved access through this program.


Strengthening Local Organizations

NPF launches a Friends Initiative to help build and strengthen local citizen organizations working at the grassroots level to support individual parks.

National Park Service


Corporate Conservation

Canon donates $1 million plus equipment to the National Park Foundation to initiate the "Expedition into the Parks" program to fund innovative environmental conservation projects. These projects included fossil preservation at Hagerman Fossil Beds and a genetic diversity study in Acadia. This program is the largest corporate-sponsored volunteer conservation effort of its kind in the parks at the time.


Restoring an Icon

Target Stores partnered with NPF and adopted the Washington Monument restoration project as its funding priority, cleaning and repairing over a century of wear and tear on the monument's marble walls and observation windows.


A Decade of Service

The national parks gained valuable support from a generation of volunteers, park lovers like you who gave of themselves to ensure generations to come will love and cherish the parks.


Amended Bylaws

The National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 that passed through Congress further expanded NPF's role in park conservation and supported the development of local organizations, Park Funds, and Friends Groups. 

Lisa Lopez


National Parks Pass

As a result of an act of Congress, through the 1998 National Parks Omnibus Management Act, NPF launches the National Parks Pass Program. The Pass provides entrance for one year to all national parks, and becomes a visible symbol of stewardship of America's national parks and public lands.

Fire Island National Seashore


Partners for Parks

NPF launches a new corporate stewardship program: Proud Partners of America’s National Parks. Five major corporations – American Airlines, Discovery Communications, Inc., Ford Motor Company, Kodak and TIME magazine – providing over $88 million in cash and media support, gives NPF the means to expand public awareness and support for national parks and provide innovative grants to parks to help enrich the visitor experience.


Staying Connected

NPF launches its monthly electronic newsletter GoParks to help better connect people with the parks they love. GoParks provides the latest Foundation news, travel ideas, and ways to support our national treasures. 

National Park Service


Celebrating Volunteerism

2003 marks the first year of the now-annual George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service, jointly presented by NPS and NPF. Each year, nearly 250,000 volunteers provide invaluable support throughout the National Park System by donating their time, talent, and energy to America’s most treasured places.

Gary Peeples / USFWS


Teachers in Parks

NPF establishes the Park Teachers program, connecting National Park Service education staff and science methods faculty from local universities to share resources, knowledge, and teaching methods.


The Next Millennium

Well into the 2000s, National Park Foundation set the stage for success by engaging new audiences, promoting our parks as a true treasure and working with some big names to inspire more supporters.


A First Lady's Commitment

NPF hosts the National Park Foundation Leadership Summit on Partnership and Philanthropy in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of individuals and representatives from the parks community attend, and Mrs. Laura Bush gives the keynote address.

Dawn Kish


Active Trails

With support of longtime partner Coca-Cola, NPF establishes its Active Trails program, bringing communities together to recreate, learn and have fun in their local national park while simultaneously protecting and enhancing more than 18,000 miles of precious land and water trail resources.


Your Guide to the Parks

The Foundation launches its series of free Owner's Guides that provide trip planning ideas and details for national park adventures across the country. Currently with 11 guides, this series covers everything from urban parks to romantic getaways to train rides, and more.


Honoring Our Heroes

NPF announces its successful completion of the the Flight 93 National Memorial Capital Campaign. Through the support of over 110,000 contributors – comprised of individuals, corporations, and foundations, from every state in the country – over $40 million is raised to fund the primary construction of the memorial


Sharing the Love

NPF participates in Subaru’s Share the Love event for the first time. Through the campaign, Subaru has provided millions in critical funding for programs and projects in more than 100 national parks, and helped increase public awareness and engagement across the National Park System.

Dawn Kish


Connecting Kids to Our Parks

The launch of Open Outdoors for Kids with our partner Disney, creates pathways for kids to enjoy, understand and connect with nature in exciting ways by facilitating outdoor activity, experiential learning, and cultural heritage exercises.

3RD PRIZE: Death Valley National Park: Ms. Gustafson will receive $3,000, binoculars and a NPF PowerPack Portable Hand Warmer courtesy of Celestron and a Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

Sarah Gustafson


Find Your Park

In honor of the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, NPF and NPS launch Find Your Park, a national public awareness campaign to encourage all people to get out there and discover their own personal connections to parks. Campaign partners included American Express, Budweiser, Subaru, Humana, REI, Disney, Coca-Cola and Coleman.

Drew Hamilton, Share the Experience


The Value of Our Parks

NPF announces a study to examine the economic value of the national parks. It is found that our national parks and their programs are conservatively worth around $92 billion in total economic value, including $28.5 billion in recreation use value for national park lands, waters, and sites.

National Park Service


Where the Elk and the Bison Play

The National Park Foundation and Grand Teton National Park Foundation raise $23 million in private funds that was equally matched by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, making it possible for NPS to purchase and protect a 640-acre tract of land, known as the Antelope Flats, within Grand Teton National Park. This purchase helps preserve critical wildlife habitat, migration routes, and viewsheds, and helps complete the orginal vision of the park.


Protecting Parks for Generations to Come

NPF publicly announces the Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, raising critical funds to support America’s over 400 national parks.


Looking Towards the Future

As we enter our 50th year, the future is bright for our national parks. Your support will keep us going for the next 50 years and the 50 after that, as we continue to protect our most important national treasures.


Centennial Coin Partnership

NPF receives a total of $2.2 million in proceeds from coin sales as a result of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service Commemorative Coin program.

Johannes Jordan, Wikimedia Commons


Telling the LGBTQ Story

With NPF's support, a theme study to help identify places and events associated with the history of LGBTQ Americans noted Stonewall Inn as an important site to preserve. When President Obama designated Stonewall National Monument, NPF committed to raising funds, establishing a local Friends Group, and working with partners to help tell a more complete American story.


Parks 101

NPF and NPS launch Parks 101, an ongoing content series highlighting lesser-known sites, stories, and experiences from America’s national parks and programs.

Manish Mamtani


Second Century Endowment

NPF formally establishes the Second Century Endowment created by the National Park Service Centennial Act. Under NPF’s management, the Second Century Endowment will provide stable, long-term funding for national parks.

National Park Service


Disaster Relief

To help meet the urgent needs of national parks affected by multiple natural disasters in 2017, NPF sets up the National Park Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. The funds raised will be granted to parks impacted by disasters large and small whenever and wherever they need it most.


NPF Turns 50

Your love of parks has inspired our work for the past 50 years. By working together, we can continue to have a powerful effect on the places that matter most. Together, #WeAreParks.


Centennial Campaign Launches NPS Into Second Century

The landmark Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks comes to a successful close, raising in excess of $500 million in support of the nation's treasured national parks. 

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