Yosemite Valley was one of the places considered as the U.S. was developing a plan for national parks. Today, Yosemite National Park is one of the most-visited parks in the system.

Photograph by Kirsten Nisula, MyShot
  • On April 5, 1916, the U.S. Congress heard testimony supporting the creation of a National Park Service. Conservationists, civic leaders, and government officials debated the management of parks and recreational areas. The positive testimonies resulted in the establishment of the National Parks Service Act as well as the right to create a National Parks Service, which was made official on August 25. Stephen T. Mather was named the first director.
     
    Today, the National Parks Service covers more than 34 million hectares (84 million acres) of land and includes nearly 400 locations. Attracting millions of visitors each year, sites include not only national parks and monuments, but historic areas, recreation areas, lakeshores, seashores, rivers, trails, and even battlefields. National parks are known for their ability to preserve history and culture, revitalize communities, and provide an atmosphere for active living. The most-visited national parks are the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Yosemite in California.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    civics Noun

    study of the rights and responsibilities of citizens of a nation, state, or other form of government.

    Congress Noun

    legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    conservationist Noun

    person who works to preserve natural habitats.

    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    National Park Service Noun

    U.S. federal agency with the mission of caring "for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage."

    preserve Verb

    to maintain and keep safe from damage.

    recreational Adjective

    having to do with activities done for enjoyment.

    revitalize Verb

    to give new life to something, or renew interest.

    testify Verb

    to offer evidence in court.