The National Park Service was first established by President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916.

By Alison Fox
August 25, 2020
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The National Park Service is celebrating its 104th birthday on Tuesday with free entry to parks around the country, providing a great opportunity for visitors to really soak in the country's history.

“As we celebrate the 104th birthday of the National Park Service, we are also recognizing the centennial of the [19th] amendment that strengthened the public position of women in American civic life, empowering them to be stronger advocates for the places that became part of the National Park System over the next 100 years," the NPS said in a statement. "From nature’s wonders in the Florida Everglades, to the Washington, DC, home where abolitionist and suffragist Frederick Douglass did some of his famous work...many of America’s important places are protected because women used their civic voices in their communities and nationwide.”

The NPS was first established by President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916, and now welcomes more than 318 million visitors each year, according to the NPS.

And this year, there’s no better way to celebrate than with a visit to the New York’s Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, which is commemorating the centennial of the passing of the 19th Amendment with a virtual celebration on Women's Equality Day on Aug. 26, the day the amendment was finally added to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

Nearby is the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY. Visit for a look into what life may have been like for some during the gilded age. The building itself remains closed due to COVID-19.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Other ways to celebrate around the country include a drive through Denali National Park in Alaska or hike among the towering red cliffs in Utah’s Zion National Park. And while there are great and challenging hikes in all 50 states, the country’s national parks go even beyond that, preserving historical sites in addition to the expansive landscapes.

If you missed Tuesday’s free day, don’t worry, there are two more scheduled for this year: National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 and Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

Park enthusiasts can also experience the best the NPS has to offer from home with virtual tours, exploring Hawaiian lava tubes and coral reefs off the Florida Keys from the comfort of your own living room.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alisonwrites.