Mission Possible: #FindYourPark for National Park Week 2019

Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Grace Cortez looking out over Mesa Verde National Park
— Victor Wei

The very first National Park Week took place in 1991, in celebration of the National Park Service’s 75th anniversary. Since then, this tradition has continued and national parks, programs, and partners across the country participate in this fun-filled week of activities and events.

Now the mission continues as the National Park Service hosts National Park Week 2019 and reminds everyone why they were established: to preserve our country’s natural and cultural heritage while helping all people #FindYourPark.

Each day of National Park Week has its own theme, and there’s even a pre-party (in the form of a Twitter chat!). Here’s what you need to know:

Kicking Things Off

Two Kayakers at Olympic National Park

Hosted by the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Department of the Interior, it’s a Twitter chat that’ll get the National Park Week party started! On April 18, 2019, at 1 p.m. ET, park lovers will unite on Twitter to share their favorite memories, tips, and stories about national parks. All are welcome to join the conversation by following the hashtags #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque, as well as sharing, retweeting, or reading along!

National Junior Ranger Day

The week of festivities officially begins with an entrance fee-free day, when all are welcome to visit national parks free of charge. This is the perfect day to visit your parks sans park pass.

Parks will also be celebrating National Junior Ranger Day, meaning there are tons of ways to keep kids entertained and learning. Many parks will have special youth programming and kids will love being able to earn the highly-desirable Junior Ranger Badge. Not able to visit in person? Many of the junior ranger booklets can be downloaded and completed at home!

Military & Veterans Recognition Day

The Mission Continues volunteers

The Mission Continues volunteers

Connor Mallon

The second day of National Park Week is dedicated to service members. Military & Veterans Recognition Day is a great time to learn the stories of how veterans have impacted our parks and our nation. Parks offer a wide variety of health, wellness, recreation, and adventure programs to enhance the lives of service members, veterans, and their families. Many parks will have special activities highlighting the military histories and stories preserved at their parks.

Earth Day

Earth Day is a global holiday when everyone celebrates the natural world and all that it provides. There’s no better time to learn about the planet or take an active role in the stewardship of the natural environment. We vote you take the day off and visit a national park, but even a walk during lunch or a few moments outside after dinner are great ways to take in some fresh air and relish all that our planet offers.

Transportation Tuesday

Black and green of the Reading Company's FP7s train in the snow at Steamtown National Historic Site

Reading Company's FP7s at Steamtown National Historic Site

Tim O'Malley/NPS

Transportation Tuesday invites us to reflect on how old and new modes of transportation transform our parks and the world. Some parks are more transportation forward: Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and Steamtown National Historic Site. Others offer unique transportation experiences within the park, like the train ride at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And others are reminders of ways in which the National Park Service is constantly creating innovative transportation methods into parks in order to create the least environmental impact on our public lands, from the traditional use of sled dogs in Denali National Park & Preserve to the shuttle buses used to transport visitors at Zion National Park.

Wild Wednesday

Bright yellow coreopsis flowers along the edge of the Middle Anacapa Island with deep blue waters surrounding the distant Channel Islands.

Bright yellow coreopsis flowers at Middle Anacapa Island at Channel Islands National Park

Aaron Echols, Share the Experience

Everybody’s got a wild side, and your national parks are certainly no exception! Wild Wednesday is the perfect day to learn what makes each park wild, from their wildlife to plant life to their histories. From wildflowers to whitewater to wilderness areas to pirates — this day will have you thinking about what makes your national parks wild.

Throwback Thursday

It’s hard not to love a good throwback, and that’s why parks will be opting in for Throwback Thursday! This is the perfect day for park lovers to share their past experiences and favorite memories in our national parks. Expect robust history programs and plenty of vintage photos! Want to join in? Share your own photos on social media using the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday and follow along to see what historic photos parks are digging up from their archives.

Friendship Friday

When it comes to partnerships and community, your national parks are quite lucky! So many people, organizations, and companies are proud supporters of your national parks. On Friendship Friday, we’re all coming together to tell stories about how we share in the responsibility of taking care of so many magnificent places. As the official nonprofit partner of NPS, the National Park Foundation has proudly supported your national parks for over half a century.

Bark Ranger Day

A small brown dog being held up next to a mostly closed pink lotus blossom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
National Park Service

Perhaps one of the most highly anticipated days of National Park Week 2019, Bark Ranger Day is all about learning what pet-friendly activities are offered in parks. While not all national parks welcome pets, many do! Learn about which ones are pet-friendly and what areas you can explore with your pet.

Park Rx Day

The links between nature and health are numerous and astounding. That’s why Park Rx Day exists! This day is a great reminder of all the ways our national parks and nature can help improve human health. Consider a new sport to improve physical health, a long walk in the woods to improve your spirit, or a tour of an important historic spot to keep your brain sharp.

We get it: one week seems like barely enough time to celebrate your 418 national parks. The good news is we can actually celebrate them all year long! Start planning how you’ll celebrate National Park Week this year, or simply use this year’s themes as inspiration for your next #FindYourPark trip.

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