The first national park was designated 144 years ago with Yellowstone, but the National Park Service as an organization will celebrate its centennial this week, as it was enacted with the signature of President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916.
For North Carolina, 1916 also was a special year, with the General Assembly creating the first state park at Mount Mitchell and it opening that year, making this year the centennial of the North Carolina State Parks.
Both actions are being celebrated throughout the year at various parks in the two park systems, but beginning this week, the newspapers in our region are beginning a celebration of our own.
The National Park Service has a special theme for this year’s celebration, Find Your Park. So our staffs have worked on a series of stories which are kicking off this week following the national Find Your Park theme.
The theme isn’t just about finding state and national parks, as one National Park superintendent shared with one of our staff members. It is about finding any public park and taking the time to enjoy it, explore it and celebrate it.
That shouldn’t be difficult in our region, since there is a local, state or national park around nearly every bend in the road.
The first set of stories focuses on some of the national and state parks from across our coverage areas, which include Stokes, Surry, Yadkin, Wilkes, Ashe, Alleghany in North Carolina and Carroll and surrounding counties in Virginia.
But the series of stories which all of the papers will be running in the coming weeks includes much more than that, it also includes a number of municipal and county parks.
All of these parks have things in common, such as free admission, beautiful views and natural aspects, trails to hike, bike or horseback ride, nearby waterways or ponds, multiple recreational opportunities.
Their enjoyment is open for the taking, and we encourage all of our readers to get out of the house and visit the parks in the area. Some you may have been to numerous times, some you may have never heard of, but we hope you find something in each one to relish and enjoy.
We hope you Find Your Park on this journey with us.