Today the National Park Service officially turns 100. Obviously, the best way to celebrate its centennial is to spend a little time with the parks — maybe a river hike through Mount Zion’s red canyons or a steep incline run at Grand Teton National Park to truly pay tribute to their existence. But if you can’t get out to play until the weekend, we get it. There are a few ways to properly honor the parks today, even from your desktop. Here are nine of the best tributes to our country's greatest natural wonders.
Google Doodle: Today’s Google Doodle pays homage to the 84 million acres of protected land that make up the National Park Service. So when you go to the landing page to search something like “best national parks vacations,” you’ll be greeted by a short video featuring monuments, seashores, and other iconic sites. (Oh, and here are some epic vacation rentals by national parks. But, still, go Google something.)
National Park Stamps: The U.S. Postal Service is picky about what goes on its stamps. Every year, they field 40,000-some pitches. But the National Park Service must have pulled the “it’s my birthday” card this year, and it got an entire collection. Artists contributed to the 16-stamp set, which shows off the landscapes and the animals that roam freely in the parks.
Google 360-Degree Tours: Until you officially retire and can put “visit every national park” on your bucket list, you can tour the parks from your computer. You can virtually follow rangers through the “Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” in this video including the icy fjords in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords or see the Milky Way sparkling from Utah’s Bryce Canyon, one of the darkest places in North America.
Vintage Parks Photo Gallery (via Quartz): The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, is celebrating the National Park Service centennial with a photo exhibit that’s open through October. Can’t make it? Quartz does it justice by featuring some stunning photos of the parks and monuments throughout history, including a vintage photo of the Hot Springs and Geyser Castle at Yellowstone National Park.
This Litany of Love (via Outside): Not like you need any convincing that the National Parks are awesome. But here are 100 reasons to love them, courtesy of Outside Online. Reason No. 47, according to the magazine: “In Saguaro, visitors can see an actual coyote chasing an actual road runner through cactus.” We’ll co-sign that.
National Park Whiskey Glasses: Huckberry has a handsome collection of National Parks T-shirts and hats designed by artists. But you can actually toast to the National Parks, too, with a set of Huckberry's Whiskey Peaks Rocks Glasses, which are hand-blown and feature raised topographic impressions of some of our country’s best peaks, like Denali, Mount Rainier, Half Dome, and Whitney. Plus, the company will donate 5 percent of its profit to Keep Tahoe Blue, a preservation nonprofit.
Park Tours With President Obama: The First Family spent its summer vacation exploring Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite National Park. Didn’t bump into them? It’s cool, because you can do the next best thing and go on a virtual-reality journey with President Obama through Yosemite. You’ll hear his remarks as you see sights like El Capitan, the Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Falls, and more. The experience is created by National Geographic, Felix & Paul Studios, and Oculus. This is the first time a sitting president has been seen in VR.
Pendleton Pale Ale: More specifically, a Pendleton Pale Ale brewed by Oregon’s Rogue Ales. The specialty beer celebrates Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park and is brewed with hops and malts grown on Rogue Farms in Oregon. The brewers collaborated with Pendleton Woolen Mills, and the can features Pendleton’s park-inspired Glacier stripe.
Catch an IMAX movie: You’ll probably have a hard time sitting still in your seat, but you can take in the national parks on a really big screen. The National Parks Adventure movie, narrated by Robert Redford, is playing in IMAX and giant-screen theaters. For the movie, filmmakers visited more than 30 national parks looking for imagery to blow them away. The 3-D documentary shines the spotlight on sandstone cliffs in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, close-ups of prairie dogs in Devil’s Tower in South Dakota, along with more recognizable footage in Yellowstone and Yosemite.
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