In the mid-1800s as pioneers expanded Westward they discovered wide vistas, amazing mountain rangers, and breathtaking beauty that they knew must be preserved for future generations. That is how the National Parks System got its start.
The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 (decommissioned in 1895), and then Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. There are currently 407 National Parks/Monuments/Lands in the United States. NPS has a map showing where all of the National Parks are located. Is one in your state?
What better place to start learning about our great National Parks then their official website! If you do not live near a park there are many things you can learn online through their Web Ranger program or via the NPS Junior Ranger program. This program is activity based conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national. There is also a program called the Traveling Trunk program that allows teachers, families, or scout groups to borrow a trunk filled with historical artifacts about a specific historical event, place, or person.
Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
Each year there are a handful of days that offer free entrance to the parks. Only 127 of our country’s 407 national parks usually charge an entrance fee. National Park Week is coming up with free days being April 18-19!
I have compiled materials for you to use to learn more about the National Parks in the United States. Most of them are free but some do require a cost and have an affiliate link. I hope you enjoy your adventures learning and seeing the beautiful wonderful outdoors.
National Parks Books
- National Parks Coloring BookPaperback by Peter F. Copeland (Illustrator)
- Where Is the Grand Canyon? by Jim O’Connor
- Where Is Mount Rushmore? by True Kelley
- National Parks: A Kid’s Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments and Landmarks by Erin McHugh
- America’s National Parks, a Pop-Up Book by Don Compton
- Yellowstone: Wonders of America by Marion Dane Bauer
- Preserving America: Grand Canyon National Park by Nate Frisch
- Ranger Trails: Jobs of Adventure in America’s Parks by Lori Yanuchi
- Search and Find National Parks by Maud Lienard
National Parks Videos
- Elmo, Murray, and Ranger Amala Explore National Parks on YouTube
- National Parks by Finley Holiday Films
- The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (PBS & Ken Burns)
- Movies about wildlife, Science and History (NPS)
National Parks Games
- Professor Noggins National Parks Trivia Card Game￼ (at Amazon)
- FREE National Park Landmark Cards (printable)
- Play and learn about the National Parks (online)
National Parks Lesson Plans
- National Memorials, Monuments, and Parks Notebooking Pages (CurrClick)
- PBS The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (A Ken Burns Film)
- Color 20 National Parks (Education.com)
- National Parks Unit and Webquest (NPS)
- Yellowstone Website Scavenger Hunt (NPS)
Tidbits of Trivia
Did you know what the National Parks are the site of many movies? Here’s an alphabetical list just in case your curiosity is peaked!
Another great installment of the ABC’s of American History series. Have you missed a few? Check out the entire series below: