• Cheré Dastugue Coen

Happy Birthday National Parks

This Thursday (Aug. 25, 2022) marks the 106th birthday of the National Park Service. The collection of hundreds of natural, historical, recreational, and cultural areas throughout the United States began on June 30, 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed an act of Congress granting inalienable protections to the Yosemite Valley as a place of public use and recreation. So many incredible parks followed that pronouncement, including Yellowstone, Zion and Acadia. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service.

yosemite
Yosemite (NPS)

Today, the 423 individual units exist in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. There are 85 million acres of unique American landscape, historic sites and wildlife habitats set aside for public use. There are 63 national parks.


Check out the birthday events below happening in the South, then share your “park scrapbooks” on social media using the hashtags #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque.


National Park Birthday Events

Naturally, Founders Day will be celebrated at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky.


A free Founder’s Day Concert with the Zydeco Crawdaddies will be from 6-7 p.m. at the Bauvais-Amoureux House lawn in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

George Washington Carver National Monument outside Diamond, Missouri, will host its sixth annual “Storytelling Day” event on Saturday Aug. 27, 2022. This free event focuses on stories about American culture and history. Other events include:

11 a.m. African American Composers (performed by Cherry & Jerry).

Noon Buffalo Soldiers: From Slave to Soldier, as portrayed by George Pettigrew, John “JR” Bruce, Donna Madison. Educational messages include researched stories of how the black soldiers became Buffalo Soldiers and little-known contributions to settling the western frontier. Meet Cathy Williams the only woman to serve with the Buffalo Soldiers.

1 p.m. Beyond the Circle Native American Stories and Dance representing Navajo, Ottawa, Ojibwe, Zuni, and Apache tribes.


The Shiloh National Military Park Birthday Bash will celebrate on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, with a night of music on the battlefield starring rhythm and blues artists The King Beez from Beale Street in Memphis. The opening act will be The NPS Arrowhead Jazz Band from New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park in New Orleans.


A little National Parks trivia…

That Jean Lafitte Historical Park and Preserve consists of five units, one of which is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Every week this unit offers a French Quarter History Talk on selected days. From 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, rangers discuss the rich cultural history that makes New Orleans such a special place. Jazz performances also take place in the courtyard of the French Quarter visitor center at 419 Decatur St. Check the park’s website for more information.


Can you name the most visited national park?

Most will say the Grand Canyon, but it's actually the Great Smokey Mountains National Park of North Carolina and Tennessee. The incredibly diverse park named for the mountain range attracts 12.5 annual million visitors, more than double the next most-visited park.


The Everglades National Park in Florida has been designated a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and is protected under the Cartagena Treaty.

denali national park
Denali National Park, Alaska

At Vicksburg National Park, where Confederate and Union troops fought for days, a memorial arch marks the Great Peace Jubilee of 1917, a gathering of veterans at Vicksburg in the hopes of reconciliation after the Civil War.


Denali National Park in Alaska is named for North America's largest mountain. At 20,000-plus feet, the mountain owns its own weather system, which is why only about 30 percent of visitors see the mammoth mountain. Most of the time, it's obscured by clouds.


The twin national parks of Sequoia and Kings Canyon contain the world’s largest living trees by volume. Some sequoias may be more than 3,000 years old.



Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by travel journalist Cheré Dastugue Coen, who also pens Southern-based novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire. She loves national parks and recently visited four remote parks in Alaska with a John Hall's Alaska tour where she hiked on a glacier in Kennecott-St. Elias National Park (left), touched the Arctic Ocean outside the Gates of the Arctic and watched humpback whales perform a "bubble feed" in the Kenai Fjords National Park (below). National Parks are an American treasure!





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