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President Obama and his family visited New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns for the National Park Service centennial.

Melissa Locker
June 21, 2016

This past weekend, President Obama did something that no sitting president has done in over 50 years — he went to Yosemite National Park.

Like many dads across the country, the president packed up his family and took them for a Father’s Day road trip (does flying in on Marine 1 count as a road trip?) to New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite National Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The last sitting president to visit Yosemite was John F. Kennedy, in 1962, according to NBC News.

Related: The Birth and Life of Yosemite's El Capitan

The president used Yosemite as a backdrop for a speech calling for continuing efforts on conservation and preventing climate change, which he has said is the greatest threat facing future generations.

“This park belongs to all of us, this planet belongs to all of us, it's the only one we’ve got. And we can't give lip service to that notion but then oppose the things required to protect it,” he said. “On this issue, unlike a lot of issues, there's such a thing as being too late.”

The First Family spent the day hiking around Yosemite admiring the sequoias, rocky outcroppings, and waterfalls that inspired Ansel Adams.

“You can't capture this on an iPad, or a flatscreen, or even an oil painting,” Obama said in his speech. "You've got to come in and breathe it in here yourself."

Like every other vacationing dad, the president even posted some pictures on his Facebook page, where he wrote: “They call the valley walls here at Yosemite 'cathedral walls,' and I understand why. There’s something sacred about this place. At places like this, we connect not just with ourselves, but with something bigger — with the spirit of America itself.”

Touting the administration’s Every Kid in a Park project, which gives out free passes to National Parks to every fourth grader, the president wrote: “We hope you'll join in the celebration of our nation's parks, forests, and cultural and historical sites. We want all Americans to 'Find Your Park' and spend a weekend — or more —in the great outdoors.

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