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National Park System map, 2013

The National Park Service operates more than 400 scenic parks, monuments, and historic sites throughout the United States and its territories, ensuring that the country’s natural beauty and historic heritage can be enjoyed today and preserved for tomorrow.

National Park Service

National Park System map, 2013

The National Park Service

As settlement of the West depleted natural resources, conservationists urged Congress to preserve some of the nation’s most scenic and fragile environments. Congress authorized the first national park, Yellowstone, in 1872. In 1916 Representative William Kent of California and Senator Reed Smoot of Utah sponsored legislation establishing a National Park Service to oversee Yellowstone and other wilderness areas conserved by Congress. The National Park Service now maintains over 400 parks and historical sites nationwide for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

The parks do not belong to one state or to one section. . . . they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.

Stephen T. Matha, Annual Report of the Director of the National Park Service, October 14, 1920