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RMNP Centennial: The History of Our National Park Service

As we celebrate the 2016 National Park Centennial, we thought a history lesson might be right for the occasion considering the prominent presence of Rocky Mountain National Park for so many Winter Park visitors.

What you might not know is that although the National Park Service (NPS) was created by President Woodrow Wilson 100 years ago (August 25, 1916), ten National Parks actually predate the creation of the NPS. Yellowstone National Park was the first to be protected, 44 years prior to the creation of the NPS, and our local gem, Rocky Mountain National Park was named a National Park by President Wilson in 1915.

When it all comes down to it thought, it was really President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 who had the vision to preserve a place for peace and respite (on the heels of the Civil War) when he signed the Yosemite Land grant into law to protect the valley of enormous, ancient sequoias that we now know as Yosemite National Park.

Regardless of the history and long, storied past of the NPS, celebrating a centennial for anything is truly epochal and it’s a wonderful time to celebrate the second century of stewardship for some of our most incredible lands.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) protects 415 square miles of spectacular mountain scenery that encompasses 77 mountains of more than 12,000ft in elevation, as well as one of the most technically challenging 14,000ft peaks, Longs Peak. The park is home to 280 types of birds, including eagles and hawks, and 60 species of animals such as bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, elk, mule deer, and moose.

More than four million people visited Rocky in 2015, up 21 percent from the previous year, making it one of the busiest national parks in the United States. Total park acreage is 265,795, with 252,085 acres designated as wilderness, making it one of the largest national parks in the United States.

Trail Ridge Road is also North America’s highest, continuous paved road. Opened to the public in 1932, the road follows an old Ute Indian trail through thick forests, across tundra decorated with glorious flowers, and brings the traveler eye-level with snow-covered mountain peaks.

Fishing, hiking, road biking, mountaineering/climbing, horse back riding (with a permitted outfitter), camping and just taking in the awe inspiring vistas make a trip to Rocky a bucket list must. Come be part of history in the making and help celebrate one of the many things that makes America unique: Our vast and varied National Park system. Use our free Rocky Mountain National Park map to plan your trip!

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