The National Park Service is turning 100 this year—the official date is Aug. 25—and will be celebrating a century of conservation and development by hosting events to commemorate the progress made. And though our country has changed considerably since the beginning of the National Park Service in 1916, the mission has not.
The NPS’ A Call to Action rallies both partners and employees to advance a shared vision. The Centennial Goal of the Call to Action is to create, and connect with, the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.
Scott Hill, the chief of interpretation at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument and the Thomas Stone National Historic Site, explains the importance of these events: “We go into our second century, and we want to know how we can connect with the new generation of park visitors. We know every visitor has a different reason to come.”
Nationally, the park system oversees more than 400 sites, including monuments, battlefields, parks, lakes, seashores and even the White House. And Northern Virginia is blessed to have a plethora of these beautiful parks, with many of them participating in the Centennial Celebration.
Centennial Weekend Celebration
To mark the historic birthday of the NPS, Wolf Trap will present a talent-filled weekend of performances by artists Ricky Martin (Aug. 24 and 25), Aretha Franklin (Aug. 26) and Bonnie Raitt (Aug. 27).
The Dream Rocket Project: An Art Show
George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Until Aug. 3
Students from several Virginia schools will be showcasing their art at George Washington Birthplace Visitor Center, using the theme of “A Good Piece of Land.”
“We wanted to have young people in the area tell what this land and George Washington meant to them,” Scott Hill says. “We think it will be a good way to connect.”
Geocaching the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail
Multiple Virginia locations throughout the Chesapeake Trail
Throughout August, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Advance sign-up is required.
Capt. John Smith played a pivotal role in the 17th-century exploration and settlement of America, as he created the first detailed map of the Chesapeake Region.
GPS devices will be available for patrons to use to search the trail, which has geocaches at more than 40 sites on five different rivers throughout the areas John Smith adventured through more than 400 years ago.
In Northern Virginia, some of these trails include the Occoquan Water Trail, Kings Landing Park and the Rappahannock River Water Trail.
Founders Day Event
National Battlefield Park
You will be able to join park staff and learn the latest on the preservation projects of Richmond’s Civil War sites through the National Battlefield Park.
Richmond hosts the Confederacy’s largest hospital and miles of detailed original fortifications. Through the Founders Day Event, you will get a special behind-the-scenes look.
Rededication of Hawksbill Viewing Platform
Shenandoah National Park
There will be a rededication of the Historic Hawksbill Observation Platform on Aug. 20 to celebrate the reconstruction of this important park feature by youth crews learning historic preservation skills.
Middle Street Gallery Exhibit
Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge; Shenandoah National Park
Aug. 4-Oct. 31
The Middle Street Gallery will join with Shenandoah National Park in a series of special exhibits to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NPS. Photographers, painters, sculptors and other artists will show new works inspired by national parks from all over the country.
These are just some of the events to celebrate this historic birthday. To find more, visit the NPS website. All national parks are also going fee-free Aug. 16-28 to celebrate National Park Week and NPS’ birthday.