A Brief HistoryIt takes an Act of Congress to establish a new National Park these days! I am having a little fun at our government’s expense, but actually it is true that Congress must approve any new National Park. This wasn’t always the case, in fact when Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872 there was no designated process and no assigned government agency to oversee the fledgling program. It wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson signed an act that created the National Park Service. At that time the act brought 35 national parks and monuments under control of the Park Service. Today the National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 417 sites, including national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There is at least one national park in every state. The largest unit is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres (53,000 km²), it is over 16 percent of the entire system. The smallest unit in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre (80 m²). Last year alone, 331 million people visited national parks spending $18.4 billion, which supported 318,000 jobs across the country and had a $35 billion impact on the U.S. economy. Why is this important? It’s important because our National Parks are an integral part of the fabric of our country, both economically and idealistically. As former National Park Service Chief of Public Affairs David Barna says, “Never in its  has this nation needed the National Park System more. It stands as a collective memory of where we have been, what sacrifices we have made to get here, and who we mean to be. By investing in the preservation, interpretation, and restoration of these symbolic places, we offer hope and optimism to each generation of Americans.”
It amazes me that nearly 150 years ago, when our fine nation was a much more wild and wide open space, some forward thinking folks decided we needed to protect and preserve our natural wonders from the “progress” marching steadily towards the horizon. Our National Parks have since come to be referred to in some circles as Americas Crown Jewels, and are often held up against the castles and cathedrals of Europe as historical wonders of the world. Even with the modest fee increase to visit many of our National Parks and monuments coming this year the memories made visiting these wonders will last a lifetime, and that is priceless. Now what if you could visit our National Park System for free? Well, you can on April 21st which marks the first day of National Park Week and is the next Free Entrance Day for 2018. “National parks connect all of us with our country’s amazing nature, culture and history,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds. “The days that we designate as fee-free for national parks mark opportunities for the public to participate in service projects, enjoy ranger-led programs, or just spend time with family and friends exploring these diverse and special places. We hope that these fee-free days offer visitors an extra incentive to enjoy their national parks in 2018.”
RVers – The Modern Explorer
While Guaranty is not designated as a National Park or monument, we have been a fixture in our community for over fifty years and in 1983 the giant American Flag that proudly flies over Guaranty Chevrolet was dedicated, by then Governor Victor Atiyeh,
“This flag is dedicated to the great people of Oregon in recognition of one of our freedoms. The freedom of mobility as part of America’s heritage”.
Oddly I think that the people responsible for our National Park Systems inception, well over a century ago, and the modern RVer share an explorers spirit and a reverence for the power of nature. Pretty amazing considering in 1916 cars were just becoming affordable to the masses. RVs and National Parks go together like peanut butter and jelly, and while the parks are experienced at handling a high volume of visitors we strongly recommend checking with your intended destination ahead of time to get the specifics of the Free Park Day and if there are any recommendations from the park staff. If you have any pre-trip needs for parts or service, or you need to an inviting campground to stay over on your way to or from a National Park, our Guaranty RV Travel Center and RV Park have you covered.
Thanks To Those Who Went Before
Touring our Amazing Nation in a motorhome or truck and trailer satisfies an age old wander lust that is a fundamental human desire. Thanks to the many brave explorers who happily risked life and limb to not only see what lies over the next hill, but bring the information back to the rest of us, we get to enjoy some of the most grandiose spectacles nature offers without any risk ourselves. Well, maybe there can be line for the bathroom but that is a risk I am willing to take to enjoy America’s Crown Jewels!