Happy 100th Birthday! US National Parks in Photos

Happy Birthday!

Yellowstone hot spring

(Image credit: "Windows into the Earth," Robert B. Smith and Lee J. Siegel)

The National Park Service has joined the centenarian club. Today (Aug. 25), the park system turns 100. It was 100 years ago that the service was entrusted with taking care of U.S. national parks. All told there are more than 400 national parks, monuments and historic sites. Live Science decided to focus on the 60 amazing parks in the United States that range from the gorgeous Yellowstone dotted with its rainbow-colored hot springs and Denali whose land holds North America’s tallest peak, to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon and the magical Big Bend whose canyons are carved into ancient limestone.

Let’s get started: Here’s a look at our national parks. 

Arches National Park

national parks, arches

(Image credit: U.S. Department of the Interior)

President Herbert Hoover created Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah in April 1929.

The textured landscape of Arches began forming some 65 million years ago. Long ago, "geologic forces wrinkled and folded the buried sandstone," explains the National Park Service. The sandstone continued to warp and tear until patterns of the rock sculptures that would grace the park emerged. The park's namesake, the arches, have the hand of erosion to thank for their shapes. During the winter, snowmelt accumulates in cavities, freezes and expands, causing chunks of sandstone to break off. Over time small recesses develop and grow bigger. "Little by little, this process turns fractured rock layers into fins, and fins into arches," according to the NPS. "the same forces that created these arches will continue to widen them until they collapse."

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park NPS Archive

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Set near beautiful Bar Harbor Maine, Acadia National Park was established by President Woodrow Wilson in July 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument. It wasn't until January 1929 that it received its current name.

Badlands National Park

national parks, rainbow

(Image credit: Joan Wallner/U.S. Department of the Interior)

An area in southwestern South Dakota was chosen to be a National Monument on March 4, 1929, and established on January 25, 1939. It was reclassified as Badlands National Park on November 10, 1978.

Big Bend National Park

A sunset at Sierra del Carmen in Big Bend National Park.

(Image credit: NPS Photo/Cookie Ballou)

The State of Texas gifted the area of land known as Big Bend to the U.S. Government and it was established as a National Park on June 12, 1944.

Biscayne National Park

national parks, mangrove forests, biscayne national park

(Image credit: Matt Stock/U.S. Department of the Interior)

After a 30-year journey, Biscayne National Park was established in the Florida Keys on October 18, 1968.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

(Image credit: Paul A Avery / Shutterstock.com)

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, in Colorado, was established October 21, 1999.

Bryce Canyon National Park

A strange-looking hoodoo with snow at Bryce Canyon National Park.

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Bryce Canyon, named after a homesteader named Ebenezer Bryce, was made a National Monument in 1932. The stunning area in south-central Utah was redesignated as Bryce Canyon National Park in 1928.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands and Sky

(Image credit: Tunc Tezel / The World At Night)

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Canyonlands National Park into existence September 12, 1964. The park, found in Utah, was expanded by nearly 80,000 acres in 1971.

Capitol Reef National Park

capitol reef, habitats, diversity

(Image credit: NPS)

Capitol Reef National Park, in the State of Utah, was designated a National Monument on August 2, 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was in 1971 that it became part of the National Parks Service.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park


(Image credit: NPS.)

On May 14, 1930, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, officially became a national park.

Live Science Staff
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