Wayback Wednesday

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History happened and memories are made in national parks. Explore the history preserved in national parks while also learning about the ongoing efforts of the National Park Service and partners to preserve America's cultural treasures in communities across the country. Maybe even share the history of your family and friends visiting national parks.

Wayback Wednesday in happening on April 21, 2021, during National Park Week, a nine-day celebration of the enjoyment and preservation of the nation's natural and cultural heritage. But you are encouraged to explore history in parks and your neighborhood any day of the year. Share your memories on social media using #WaybackWednesday and #NationalParkWeek.
National Park Week 2021 logo with an eagle flying near a mountain

National Park Week

There are even more ways to celebrate National Park Week this year. Each day has a special theme, find yours!

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Join the #RecreateResponsibly Movement

If you are heading to a park to celebrate National Park Week, keep some basic safety tips in mind while you embark on your adventure.

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Find Your Virtual Park

Stay connected with national parks across the country with online resources and virtual experiences.

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Black and white photo of a couple standing on an outcrop overlooking a valley Modern color photo of a couple standing on an outcrop overlooking a valley
Photo taken July 4, 1950 by A. Fawcett at Shenandoah National Park
Photo taken September 12, 2016 by Jen Johnson at Shenandoah National Park

Join in Wayback Wednesday

Here are a few ideas of how you can go "way back." Share your experiences and discoveries on social media using the hashtags #NationalParkWeek, #FindYourVirtualPark, #WaybackWednesday, and #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque.

  1. Make a Virtual Visit. Find history in more than 400 national parks across the country on their websites and social media channels. Kids can even earn an online Junior Ranger badge while learning about the past!
  2. Then & Now. Share a throwback picture of you or your family and friends visiting a national park in the past. Maybe even recreate the magic of the same image today putting them side by side, using recommended safety guidance for social distancing or from home. 
  3. Relive the Magic. Take a virtual walk down memory lane and share the stories of your favorite park memories. Whether taking a hike to a memorable spot, following a vacation route you made as a kid, or visiting a special place in history that made a mark on you, share an experience in a park that stood out in your memory. Maybe even duplicate it using park websites and social media channels.
  4. Understanding the Past and Celebrating the Present. Step back into the past to learn the histories of who we are as a diverse nation and the heritage shared in parks and communities today. Explore African American Heritage, American Indian Heritage, American Latino HeritageAsian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, European American Heritage, LBGTQ Heritage, and Women's History.
  5. Connect with Your Neighborhood. Explore historic places in your neighborhood that are on the National Register of Historic Places or are a National Historic Landmark
  6. Take Action. Learn how you can get involved in preserving historic places in your community.
  7. Preservation in Action. Meet the preservation rangers of the National Park Service and learn more about their projects in national parks and communities across the country.
  8. Teach the Next Generation. Check out lesson plans that help kids learn about special historic places in their neighborhoods.Teaching with Historic Places.

Featured Stories

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"Twenty & Odd"

Reflect on 400 years of African American experience through the lens of our nation's iconic places in this short film.

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Proud of Our Past, Embracing Our Future

National Park Service employees share their rich Hispanic and Latino cultural heritage and history.

Rainbow over a field of crops

"Oh, Nicodemus!"

A short film woven together by a poem explains the epic story of an enduring town founded by former enslaved Americans settling in Kansas.

A vegetated desert canyon

A Pueblo Perspective on Mesa Verde

Listen in while Ranger TJ Atsye gives an audio tour following the footsteps left behind by her Pueblo ancestors.

Black and white photo of Loren Yellow Bird with text reading

A Close-Up and Personal Focus

National Park Service employee Loren Yellow Bird shares history and heritage around Fort Union Trading Post NHS through his eyes.

Person holding a surfboard while standing in ocean waves, text reads

"Koa Talking to Me"

Follow Junior's love for one of the rarest and most threatened trees in the world that helps him stay connected to his Hawaiian heritage.

Illustration of a woman carrying a child during a storm with prehistoric animals nearby

Following Footprints in the White Sands

A recent discovery of fossilized human footprints gives a rare glimpse into family life in New Mexico during the Ice Age.

Several scuba divers communicating underwater

Travel Florida Shipwrecks

The Diving with a Purpose program and other underwater archeologists are part of an effort to document shipwrecks off the Florida coast.

Portrait of Michelle Duster

A Great-Granddaughter's Reflections

One hundred years later, Michelle Duster reflects on the life and legacy of prominent civil rights leader Ida B. Wells.

Model of a large factory weaving room

Lowell Talks

A podcast series discusses topics and the community identity throughout the history of the town of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Screenshot of river reading

Flowing through Generations

The Niobrara River was a unique and wonderful place for generations of people that lived near it and traveled on its currents.

Postcard featuring a collage of historic scenes from Alcatraz Island.

Park Postcards Podcasts

Hear the voices, memories, and experiences of rangers, partners, and visitors to step into Golden Gate National Recreation Area's past.

Spotlight on Women of the National Park Service

Women have played an important role in the in National Service since its creation in 1916. Take a look back at their experiences and how they shaped their roles over time.

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    Then & Now Galleries

    View these photo galleries of parks and communities to see how these places looked in the past compared to now.

    Illustration of prehistoric creatures next to a photo of a desert landscape

    Cenozoic Fossil Parks

    Compare landscapes and life in parks with what it once was according to the geology and fossil records

    Two meshed photos of a ranch house in the past and today

    Cultural Landscapes

    A growing collection of "then and now" photos of cultural landscapes gives insight into how these places have changed or stayed the same.

    Two meshed images of a fort gate during the Civil War and today

    Civil War Defenses of Washington

    Step into the past to explore a series of forts that protected the US capital during the Civil War now used as peaceful parks.

    Black and white photo of geologic desert features compared with a modern photo

    Arches National Park

    The red-rock arches and pinnacles of the park continue to draw visitors from around the world as they did decades ago.

    Meshed images of a park ranger riding a bike in front of a house next to a historic version

    Cape Cod National Seashore

    Get a glimpse of people recreating at the seashore in the past and how you can enjoy it today.

    Hand holding up a historic image of a building over top the current building

    Gettysburg National Military Park

    See the battlefield through a modern lens compared with famous historic post-battle photographs.

    Color photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge area compared with a historical image

    Golden Gate National Recreation Area

    The "Ghost of the Golden Gate" online exhibit reveals the hidden history of familiar locations in San Francisco.

    Two meshed photos of the ruins of a brick fort in the past and today

    Gulf Islands National Seashore

    Explore the forts and seashores of the Gulf Islands as visitors of the past saw these places and people continue to today.

    Two meshed images of a historic lighthouse on a cliff by an ocean in the past and today

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    Reveal the hidden history of familiar locations throughout the national seashore with a large collection of historic images.

    Black and white photo of historic cars next to a color photo of modern cars

    Shenandoah National Park

    Travel Skyline Drive and throughout the park to see how the classic trip to Shenandoah has changed—or hasn't.

    Modern color photo of a one-story building next to a historic black and white building

    Tumacacori National Historical Park

    Tour historic buildings and ruins from a time when the park was a cultural crossroads for many people to see preservation in action.

    Meshed images of a historic black and white photo and a modern color photo of a green house

    Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

    Take a look at the White Haven estate where the Grant family lived in the 19th century and how it looks today.

    For Kids (and Kids at Heart)

    Check out these games and activities to learn more about the past.
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    "The Magic Sash" Podcast Series

    "The Magic Sash" podcasts and lesson plans introduce kids to iconic heroes of the movement for women to vote.

    Screenshot of a black and white image of a kid milking a cow

    Classic Junior Ranger Videos

    A series of Junior Ranger videos shows how life as a kid homesteading in the 1800s was very different (or maybe the same) as life today.

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    Teaching with Historic Places

    Explore your own neighborhood through educational lesson plans about historic places throughout the country.

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      What We Do

      Learn more about National Park Service programs that work in national parks and communities across the country to preserve places of history and heritage.

      In Your Neighborhood

      The National Park Service's dedication to preservation of history and heritage expands outside the borders of our parks into every community across the country. Find resources or learn more about some of these programs.

      Last updated: April 14, 2021