Seven Parks a Partying in 2017

Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Otter in a river in winter
Otter at Cuyahoga Valley — National Park Service

From community gatherings with snacks and hot beverages to bird counting with fellow citizens, national parks are anything but still during the holiday season. Experience the thrill of the dropping temperatures and holiday merriment as you take advantage of the many events hosted by the parks. Below is a list of just a few of the many types of programs happening around the country this holiday season.

Gathering as a Community

Yellow tall grass in front of the blue ocean with cliffs in the horizon at Point Reyes National Seashore
National Park Service

Come one, come all! Celebrate all parks with the community at Point Reyes National Seashore. This free event is one way to give thanks for all parks – local, state, and federal – before the new year begins. Come enjoy some light refreshments and drinks (compliments of the Point Reyes National Seashore Association) and stay for the chance to share good tidings with other park lovers at the 2017 Holidays Open House.

New England Festivities

Red Christmas bow on a fence post in front of a snowy yellow mansion at Longfellow House
National Park Service

Tucked within Cambridge, MA, you’ll find the Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarter National Historic Site, which sweeps visitors back to life in the 1800s from spring through fall each year. While the touring season closes each winter, you can stop by the Holiday Open House to experience the magic of the home illuminated on December 15, 2017. Or stop by the next day for the winter Holiday House Tours to see the house decorated on a 30-minute tour. Then head to the carriage house for crafts and refreshments!

A Different Kind of Christmas Tradition

Snow-capped Guadalupe Peak at Guadalupe Mountains
National Park Service

Be a part of a 100+ year old tradition – documenting bird populations. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is just one park that continues this annual event. Join your fellow citizens at the park for the 2017 Christmas Bird Count to help in counting the park’s many bird species – from golden-eagles to phainopeplas.

Wreaths Across America

Wreaths on the ground in front tombstones of unkown soldiers at Andersonville National Historic Site
National Park Service

Each year, parks like Andersonville National Historic Site participate in one of the most touching holiday events – placing wreaths on gravesites at national cemeteries countrywide. The Andersonville National Cemetery will have a short public ceremony to celebrate our nation’s veterans, before getting to work to ensure that all 20,000+ gravesites in the park are honored with a wreath. Find a park near you to help lay wreaths, or sponsor a wreath for a veteran.

Celebrating like Christmases Past

Canon in the snow with a colorful blue, pink, and yellow sunset in the horizon
Buddy Secor / NPS

Already watched “Little Women,” but still yearning for a holiday film that takes you back in time? Learn about Civil War-era Christmases and holiday traditions of the 19th century this season at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. During the “Christmas at Chatham” event, you’ll learn about what both soldiers and civilians experienced during the holidays. Best of all? Children will have the opportunity to visit with Santa!

A Post-Party Party

Steam rising above the Niobrara River at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
National Park Service

Is your calendar completely booked all the way through December 25? Then perhaps you’re better equipped to celebrate Boxing Day, December 26, with Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. The park has been celebrating this British holiday each year since the late 1970s, when the locals began this welcoming traditional party each year for their neighbors. Stop by to continue the tradition as you visit the Artist-in-Residence Art Gallery, listen to live music, and enjoy refreshments. Don’t forget to bring canned goods as part of a contribution to local food pantries!

After the Cookies

A group of hikers led by a National Park Service ranger through the woods at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
National Park Service

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a calendar filled to the brim with holiday activities – from an Ugly Sweater Holiday Ride to a reading of “A Christmas Carol.” A visit to Spicy Lamb Farm will transport you back to the manger as you see the sheep! Return to the park after the holidays for the “Cookie Burner” — a 7-mile hike on the unpaved trails of the park. This may be the perfect way to bounce back after all the holiday delights!

Looking for even more ways to get festive with in the national parks this December? Head here to find additional holiday events across the country, or contact a park near you to learn if they are offer any festive programming. Choose an event that fits your location and interests, bundle up in a festive sweater, and then go #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque!

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