Posted by Dan Barry on

How our National Parks came to be (and one way you didn't know you could use them)

In the US, our National Parks are home to some of the greatest scenery in the country. Volcanoes in Hawai'i, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and Half Dome are just a few of the landmarks that call National Parks home. The lands they reside on are preserved for their natural beauty and so that each and every one of us can enjoy them.

But in a time of manifest destiny, how did National Parks even have a chance to become a thing?

Well, it all started out West with a few artists. 

William Henry Jackson, a photographer, and artists Thomas Moran and Henry W. Elliot, were all on the first federally funded geological survey of the area lead by Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden. Their photos, paintings and sketches would be brought back and shown to Congress. (And they didn't even have photoshop!) Nonetheless, these #nofilter images captured legislators' attention and helped them decide to preserve the area as a national park in 1872. President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law on March 1.

That's great and all, but you're here to find out how to maximize your National Park experience in the present day. Fair enough. 

So here's the deal: if you're willing to rough it, you can camp for free. Surrounding many National Parks are National Forests and public lands, which allow dispersed camping for up to 16 consecutive days in a 30-mile radius. That means no running water or bathrooms, but you can totally do it to reconnect with nature.

Still confused about the difference between all the types of public lands? Read up on their differences and know that these areas are protected for your use. Get out there and get your nature on!


Fired up about saving the beautiful landscapes of our earth? Us too. These blue Save the World undies from Marc Skid donate $4 to the environmental charity of your choice. 

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