20 Ways To Celebrate National Park Week (2024)

This article is presented in partnership with Parks Project

Parks Project has a passion for the outdoors and believes it’s our responsibility to promote, protect, and preserve public lands. The brand is empowering the next generation of Park Champions to preserve the parks we love and leave them better than we found them. Since 2014, Parks Project has donated over $2.5 million to Parklands, all while building habitat and wildlife restoration, advocacy and education, and volunteer programs.

Check out Parks Project, where a portion of every purchase funds the protection and stewardship of public lands.

An illustration of a US Park Service ranger hat in front of iconic national parks and a golden sunset
This article is presented in partnership with Parks Project

National Park Week is April 20-28! This nine-day celebration is an opportunity to rejoice in the beauty of America’s national parks, protect the environment and all the public spaces we share, and look towards a climate-forward future together.

National parks — of which there are over 400 — are a uniquely special place for all who visit them.

Whether you just love the outdoors, are interested in the shared history of these landmarks, or embrace the feelings of adventure and discovery, these public parks provide a space for us to grow, explore, connect, and learn. 

National Park Week simply takes the everyday stewardship and appreciation of these places and turns up the volume, making way for an array of events, activities, and advocacy.

Of course, those who always seem to have a pair of hiking boots in the car, or have been eagerly awaiting the “super bloom” of wildflowers are already keen on getting out and exploring — but national parks are a place for everyone

To spark your park-going passion and give you some additional context into National Park Week, here are a few fun facts to get us started:

5 Facts About National Park Week

  1. National Park Week first started in 1991, when George H. W. Bush celebrated the 75th anniversary of the National Park Service. 
  2. National Park Week is always held in mid-April to coincide with Earth Day
  3. Each day of National Park Week includes a different celebration or theme, like tradition, inspiration, and discovery.
  4. Park entrance fees are always waived on the first day of National Park Week — so you go explore your favorite parks for free!
  5. National Volunteer Week is the week prior to National Park Week, celebrating all the volunteers who care for our national parks.

While it’s important to learn more about and protect our national parks every single day, it’s helpful to have somewhere to start. We’ve created a guide on how to celebrate National Park Week this year.

By the way, some of the links in this article (like books!) are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Activities and Ideas: How To Recognize National Park Week

Learn

Watch documentaries about national parks.

Even if you’ve looked out into the expanse of the Grand Canyon or hiked in the Rocky Mountains, there is still no way to see every inch of our beautiful national parks. 

Documentaries are a great way to learn more about these lands and landmarks, and the wildlife that inhabits them — and boost your appreciation for public lands

  • “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” (PBS)
  • “Our Great National Parks” (Netflix)
  • “America’s National Parks” (Disney+)
  • “Into The Grand Canyon” (Disney+)
  • “The Great Yellowstone Thaw” (PBS)
  • “Big Sur: Wild California” (National Geographic)

Looking for more specifically climate-related documentaries? We’ve got a whole list of those, too!

Read books about national parks.

A great way to celebrate National Park Week is to curate your library with more books about these vast, curious landmarks. 

Sorry to break it to you, but we’re adding more brilliant reads to your never-ending TBR list. 

  • “Atlas of the National Parks” by Jon Waterman (Bookshop) (Amazon)
  • “Sign My Name to Freedom” by Betty Reid Soskin (Bookshop) (Amazon)
  • “Campfire Stories: Tales from America’s National Parks” by Dave Kyu & Ilyssa Kyu (Bookshop) (Amazon)
  • “Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park” by Conor Knighton (Bookshop) (Amazon)
  • “The Power of Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Origin of National Parks” by Dennis Drabelle (Bookshop) (Amazon
  • “Engineering Eden: A Violent Death, a Federal Trial, and the Struggle to Restore Nature in Our National Parks” by Jordan Fisher Smith (Bookshop) (Amazon)
  • “Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America’s National Parks” by Mark Woods (Bookshop) (Amazon)

Listen to podcasts about national parks.

There’s nothing like an emotional support podcast that educates us and journeys with us to the gym, grocery store, or daily commute. Bonus points if it never makes you want to take off your headphones!

Here are a few podcasts to tune into during National Park Week:

Learn more about the history of the National Park Service. 

It was 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service (NPS)

The NPS would become the federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for the protection and management of the country’s established national parks and monuments. In the century following, a rich history has been built. 

Take some time during National Park Week to learn about the timeline of the establishment of the NPS, explore the collections, maps, and essays of the national parks through the Library of Congress, and learn more about what continues to be done to preserve the history of the parks themselves.  

Be intersectional in your national park studies.

Of course, we must spotlight and acknowledge the impact of national parks and public lands on our most marginalized communities. Long before our national parks were designated protected areas by the federal government, they were the lands of Indigenous communities

National parks and historic sites are also special places to honor Black history and women’s history. They tell the story of the United States — one of harm and colonization — as well as intersectionality and justice. It’s up to us to preserve these stories and uphold the lessons of liberty and justice they teach us all.

Visit a virtual park.

While there are certainly lots of state and public parks across the country, we also know that a very real nature gap exists in America, keeping access to nature inaccessible to many communities. 

If you live far from a national park — or even nature in general — a great way to still engage with these beautiful spaces is by taking a virtual visit to a national park right from your computer. 

Read and share quotes about national parks.

There’s a quote for everything. Explore our roundup of the best national park quotes from brilliant conservationists, environmentalists, and experts as you celebrate this special week. 

Learn how to #RecreateResponsibly and Leave No Trace.

The movement behind #RecreateResponsibly invites people to take better care of the natural environment and each other. Whether it’s learning how to camp, off-road, or play in water responsibly, there are guides and resources to make your experiences fun and safe for the world around you.

These ideas also lead into “Leave No Trace” principles, which provide a guide to having a minimal impact when visiting the outdoors. 

Take Action

Take good care of public lands.

What better way to practice your national park stewardship than cleaning up the public lands and waterways closest to you? 

Grab a clean-up kit and pick up litter, help spread the word about the importance of responsible park usage, or even reach out to your local parks department (or NPS) to inquire about improved recycling or waste management options. 

Donate to organizations that protect national parks and public lands.

When it comes to the specific environmental and conservation needs of our national parks and wildlife, we should leave it to the experts to do their jobs.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need support! 

Projects, nonprofits, and funds of all kinds exist to maintain and protect our national parks. Consider contributing to some of them during National Park Week — here are just a few to keep in mind:

Become a member of the National Parks Foundation.

The National Park Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the NPS and works to care for and safeguard these beloved parks. 

With programming in youth education, history and culture, sustainability, wildlife conservation, outdoor exploration, and more, a yearly membership with the National Parks Foundation contributes greatly to the spaces and initiatives we all know and love.

Urge your elected officials to protect public lands and national parks.

While lots of independent organizations maintain and uphold the beauty of our national parks, the federal government will always need a reminder from us as constituents that these public lands matter and deserve to be protected.

Contact your representatives to urge them to take action to protect public lands by resisting the construction of oil pipelines, holding corporations accountable, establishing robust sustainability and conservation laws, and more. 

You can also simply let your representatives know that you value national parks and want them to work to protect them.

Celebrate

Take the Find Your Park quiz.

Not sure which national park you should visit next? Kiss the decision fatigue goodbye and let the Find Your Park quiz help you determine your next destination.

The quiz will prompt you to think about your travel buddies, the kinds of activities you want to do, what you like to learn about, and more. 

Attend a National Park Week event.

Not sure how you want to celebrate? Never fear; the NPS has events planned for you all week long! 

Check out ParkRx Day to learn about the health benefits of nature, celebrate Earth Day at a national park, bring your little ones outdoors to celebrate National Junior Ranger Day, celebrate young conservation leaders, and more.

To find more events near you, visit the NPS website and peruse April’s event calendar.

Mark your calendar for this year’s Free National Park Days.

Every year, NPS announces a number of “fee-free days” to ensure that our national parks are accessible to everyone. But the good news is also that at least 310 national park destinations are already free! 

Either way, prepare for an adventure and tuck away your wallet for this year’s free national park days

Shop from brands that support the preservation of National Parks. 

Whether you’re shopping for a commemorative National Park Week treasure, or you’re in the market for some new gear for your next adventure, there are plenty of different brands and companies that donate proceeds to national park and public land preservation. 

Check out our full gift guide for national park lovers to get started! 

Read good news about national parks.

Part of the fun of celebrating national parks also means celebrating good news about national parks. 

We’re all about good news at Good Good Good — and we even create an Environment Edition of our Goodnewspaper every year! 

Plus, we have a whole library of good national park news stories to inspire you, too.

Share #YourParkStory on social media.

As part of National Park Week, NPS is encouraging folks to share their “park stories” on social media. By using the hashtag #YourParkStory or #MyParkStory, users can share their special connections to national parks in celebration of this week. 

Each day of National Park Week also has a theme to use when sharing these stories. They include: 

  • Discovery  (Saturday, April 20)
  • Volunteers (Sunday, April 21)
  • Earth Day (Monday, April 22)
  • Innovation (Tuesday, April 23)
  • Workforce (Wednesday, April 24)
  • Youth Engagement (Thursday, April 25)
  • Community Connections (Friday, April 26)
  • Junior Ranger Day  (Saturday, April 27)
  • Arts in Parks  (Sunday, April 28)

Consider the unique natural beauties of different parks.

Not only does National Park Week coincide with Earth Day; it also coincides with a number of seasonal transitions in nature. 

Use this as an excuse to explore national parks that are especially exciting during bird migration, waterfall, and wildflower super bloom season

Visit a national park.

Last, but certainly not least: Pay a visit to a national park!

In honor of National Park Week, Google unveiled some new updates to Google Maps which will help you identify all of the best “must-visit attractions” at each park, help you explore and navigate entire trails (not just track down the trailhead), and download an entire park area in case there’s no cell service.

Whether you visit a national park in your state or you decide to trek far away, the National Park Service has resources to help ensure you have a great trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is National Park Week?

National Park Week is an annual nine-day celebration of national parks, what they mean to us, and how we can protect them. This week of celebration gives us all an opportunity to explore, connect, and discover these public lands together.

When is National Park Week?

In 2024, National Park Week takes place April 20-28. National Park Week is held in mid-April every year to coincide with Earth Day.

When did National Park Week start?

National Park Week was started by George H. W. Bush in 1991 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Park Service. Since then, the celebration has continued to include annual events, fee-free days, and expanded advocacy and conservation efforts.  

What is the 2024 theme of National Park Week?

In 2024, there is not a set theme for National Park Week. Instead, the NPS is hosting theme days throughout the week, highlighting things like arts in the parks, youth engagement, the amazing national park workforce, and more.

What was the 2023 theme of National Park Week?

In 2023, the theme of National Park Week was #YourParkStory, which encouraged people to share their stories of connection and culture through their experiences at national parks. Social media users shared their national park stories online using the hashtag #MyParkStory.

Which president made the first National Park?

President Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone National Park as the first national park in 1872. However, it wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service, and subsequently paved the way for the development of all other national parks. 

Who owns the U.S. national parks?

All national parks are owned by the federal government, and the National Park Service is an agency of the federal government (within the Department of the Interior) that manages all 400+ national parks.

When is National Public Lands Day?

National Public Lands Day is celebrated on September 23 in the U.S. This holiday is dedicated to reveling in the splendor of nature, safeguarding our cherished natural parks, and championing a greener tomorrow. Through volunteer work, special events, or ongoing learning, this awareness day celebrates and cares for our public lands.

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