• View of Square Tower House, seen along the Mesa Top Loop

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Enrichment Package: Activity 1 -- The Future Is In Your Hands: Part 1

Part 1 The National Park Service: For Future Generations

National Parks, like Yellowstone and Mesa Verde, were in existence before the National Park Service (NPS). In 1916, congress passed legislation creating the National Park Service. The National Park Service was given a dual (two-part) mission: To preserve and protect our parks and to provide for the use and enjoyment of our parks.

Thanks to the work of conservationists and preservationists such as Theodore Roosevelt, Horace Albright and John Muir, the idea of national parks became a reality in the United States. The oldest preserve now managed by the National Park Service is Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. First protected by the United States in 1832, it became a national park in 1921. The term 'national park' came into legal use in 1872 with the creation of Yellowstone National Park, which was the world's first national park. In 1906, the passage of The Antiquities Act allowed the President (the executive branch of the U.S. government) to create national monuments. The first national monument was Devil's Tower in Wyoming was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. In contrast to national monuments, national parks must be declared by an act of Congress (the legislative branch of U.S. government).


Today there are over 390 sites managed by the National Park Service. These sites range in size from 0.02 acre Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Philadelphia to the 13,175,901 acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. There are many types of National Park Service managed sites, including national parks, national monuments, national historical parks, national seashores, national trails, national lakeshores, national battlefields, national recreation areas, and many more. Their purposes are varied and include such diverse places as the Appalachian Trail, Mount Rushmore, California Redwoods, the White House, Gettysburg Battlefield, Cape Cod's beaches, Jimmy Carter's home, Grant's Tomb, and the birthplace of New Orleans jazz!


Unlike the U.S. Forest Service's mission of "multiple use" of resources (e.g., hiking, hunting, camping, timber sales) all National Park Service areas strive to uphold one ideal: that these sacred American places be kept "unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." This is the mission of all those who wear the National Park Service uniform. We need your assistance to ensure that this goal continues to be achieved.


Part 2 Mesa Verde National Park: The First Cultural National Park

Did You Know?

Zia Corn Dance

Descendants of Mesa Verde Ancestral Puebloans include the Hopi in Arizona, and the 19 Rio Grande pueblos of New Mexico: Taos, Picuris, Sandia, Isleta, San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Tesuque, Jemez, Cochiti, Pojoaque, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Zia, Laguna, Acoma, and Zuni.