National Park Service (NPS) rangers care for and protect some of America’s favorite places. They help visitors enjoy and appreciate the nearly 400 national parks, monuments, memorials, seashores, and historic sites across the country.
Yellowstone became the first national park in 1872. For a number of decades afterward, U.S. Army soldiers protected Yellowstone and other new national parks from illegal hunting and trespassing. But as the parks became popular places to visit, a new kind of protector was needed. The parks needed workers who could do more than simply stop troublemakers. Staff was also needed to lead backcountry hikes, study wildlife, map out trails—as well as educate visitors about the nature and history of the parks. Park rangers were the answer. By the time the National Park Service was created in 1916, civilian park rangers worked in most national parks. They became the first NPS rangers.