The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary on August 25, 2016, but the story of America's national parks starts a half century earlier. The conception of the park system parallels the evolution of the American ideal of equality of all people. In many places around the world, the locations of awe-inspiring natural wonders, the pristine wild lands full of curious creatures, and the shrines of local and national history had been held as the private possessions of the elite. But in America, the nation started early in its history making these places the property of everyone. When Congress established Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872, they proclaimed it "a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." This was the birth of "America's Greatest Idea."
Follow the links below to read more of the story of America's National Parks and the organization founded to preserve and protect them "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people": the National Park Service.