Mother Nature has produced some of the most extravagant and mouth-dropping sights known to humans—and plenty of those are found within the National Park System. From the majestic curves found in the Grand Canyon to the bright night sky over Denali, there are so many sights to see and plenty of natural events to experience when you visit our parks. And on this Earth Day, we’ve collected a number of fun and interesting activities to take part in at national parks in celebration of the planet.
- Become a steward. Jump in and help protect the nation's natural resources by volunteering or becoming a citizen scientist at a national park! With more than 400 parks across the country, there are countless opportunities to lend a hand with environmental projects, such as cleanups, planting native species, inventorying plants and wildlife in a bioblitz, teaching visitors about natural resources, and more.
- Learn about nature and science in parks. Follow along with science projects in parks by National Park Service scientists and other professionals in earth science fields as they work to understand the Earth's past and present and plan for the future. From the discovery of new prehistoric species, engineering along coastlines, and monitoring dramatic geological features, there's a lot of research happening in parks. Catch up on issues of Park Science to stay current year round.
- Find out why the National Park Service rocks! Visit any number of parks that contain astonishing rock formations you wouldn’t believe possible. Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona features a landscape that is out of this world, while Acadia National Park in Maine, Colorado National Monument in Colorado, and Badlands National Park in South Dakota feature just as many stellar rocks looking to be photographed.
- Dip your feet into lakes and oceans along our shorelines. The summer’s almost here and there’s no better way to kickstart that fun than by heading to some of our national park coastlines. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin features breathtaking views of caves, while New York’s Fire Island National Seashore offers beautiful scenic beaches for a swim.Learn about the beginnings of the National Park Service and the history of conservationThe National Park Service wouldn’t be here without the vision of John Muir. Visit his home at John Muir National Historic Site in California. At Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Massachusetts, you can explore how several generations of landcape architects influeneced incorporating the natural world to urban landscapes.
- Spring is here, but winter is not that far behind us. There’s still time to enjoy a number of our winter activities in our parks. Go ice climbing or snowshoeing in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan or join the 100-Mile Challenge before April 30 in Saratoga National Historical Park in New York.
- Keep track of the stars as they go whooshing by. There’s nothing that can top a natural phenomenon like the first picture of a black hole, but luckily shooting stars surrounded by wildlife sure comes in at a close second. Lie down and watch the stars in a number of our parks that offer camping at night, like the aptly named Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, or Lake Roosevelt Recreation Area in Washington.
- Discover your inner artist. Who says you need to paint inside? Surrounding yourself in nature is one of the best ways to get creative. Welcome spring by painting blooming flowers at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, where impressionist painter J. Alden Weir spent most of his time exploring nature and producing paintings of his environment. And surely, visiting the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Pennsylvania will get your creative writing juices flowing!
- Remember, above all, to stay active. The National Parks are a great resource for people to enjoy—they offer a whole range of activities and encourage you to get up on your feet and start moving. Take a hike on our trails to see something new, like fossils at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado, the tallest mountain in Texas at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, or the landscape that influenced many pivotal battles of the Civil War at Fredericksburg & Sportsylvania Military Park in Virginia.
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Last updated: April 16, 2019