America’s National Park Service, which has enabled millions to marvel at the country’s natural wonders, commemorates 100 years of stewardship in 2016. Home to more national parks than any other state, California is celebrating the centennial with special events and activities throughout the year.
More than 37 million visitors explore California’s 27 national parks and monuments each year, ranking it among the top three activities reported by overseas visitors to California.* These outdoor adventurers seek inspiration, renewal and excitement in the state’s diverse landscapes —from the snow-capped Sierra and dramatic deserts to remote island sanctuaries and redwood forests.
“The centennial celebrations happening in our parks make this the perfect time for nature lovers to take a California road trip,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “No other state matches California’s abundance of natural and historic wonders, from the iconic Yosemite, Redwood and Joshua Tree national parks to Death Valley, Channel Islands and America’s newest national park, Pinnacles.”
California’s national parks will be explored in the Feb. 12, 2016 debut of National Parks Adventure, a film for IMAX® and giant-screen theaters launched in honor of NPS’ 100th birthday. Robert Redford will narrate the film, which includes scenes from California’s Yosemite, Redwood, Joshua Tree, Channel Islands, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Death Valley National Parks.
Click here to see a list of California centennial festivities and packages, which range from guided hikes, wildlife exploration and junior ranger programs to film premieres, sunset yoga, art exhibitions, star parties and special hotel discounts. Here are just a few highlights:
Yosemite National Park
National Park Week (April 16-24) will offer free entry andhonor the NPS Centennial with special events including family activities such as guided walks and educational booths as well as kid games with the park’s Education Rangers. Other celebrations throughout the year include the Yosemite Museum – the first museum in the NPS – 90th Anniversary Commemoration (May 29) and a special event to commemorate the Centennial (Aug. 25).
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Volunteer to work on trails or just explore them on National Trails Day (June 4) and learn about the contributions of African American soldiers to the development of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and other national parks on Buffalo Soldiers Day (June 18).
Redwood National and State Parks
The Centennial Festival (June 25-26) will feature talks and activities celebrating the park’s heritage and contribution to the region’s culture, including a speech by Michael Muir, the great grandson of “Father of National Parks” John Muir.
Death Valley National Park
MarsFest (April 9-10) celebrates NASA’s use of Death Valley landscapes as an analog for studying Mars. Scientists from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and the SETI Institute will lead field trips and demonstrate analog studies such as testing for Mars rover vehicles.
Joshua Tree National Park
Attend the 24th Annual Art Festival (April 1-3), which celebrates NPS’ 100th birthday by showing works by 30 local and regional artists who will be on hand to share their personal interpretation of Joshua Tree National Park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
The park will host a series of special events such as the free Lassen Summer Film Festival (July 16-17); Day in the Park Festival and Volcano Adventure Camp Ribbon Cutting Celebration (Aug. 6); Dark Sky Festival (Aug. 12-14); and Art & Wine of Lassen (Sept. 24), which celebrates the local art, wines and music at Lassen with free admission on Public Lands Day.
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Golden Gate National Parks
Golden Gate National Parks will offer Find Your Park programs and work to grow community access by expanding shuttle programs, the Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative, SF Library reading programs, and community trailhead programs. The parks will also participate in “Every Kid in a Park” as part of the national program which offers free access for participating fourth graders. The program will work with the YMCA to bring 100 kids a day into the parks for several weeks in 2016.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
The park will host special events such as Festival of the Sea (Aug. 20) and the 2016 Sea Music Concert Series (Sept. 17 and Oct. 15), as well as ongoing activities such as weekend ranger-guided historic waterfront walks.
Channel Islands National Park
Visitors to Channel Islands National Park, often called the “Galapagos of North America,” can learn more about this fascinating park and wildlife in the From Shore to Sea Lecture Series, with lectures taking place throughout the year. Activities on Junior Ranger Day (April 16) and Kids to Parks Day(May 21) will celebrate the next generation of park stewards.
Pinnacles National Park
The ongoing Centennial Day of Service invites volunteers to help improve the park — which was created by volcanoes— from litter abatement, non-native plant control, seed collection and trail work.
Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument, which commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay, will celebrate the NPS Centennial in 2016 with ongoing programs such as sunset yoga, guided moonlight walks, open Lighthouse Tower Days, WW2 bunker exploration every 4th Saturdayof the month; free guided nature walks Monday through Saturday; and free Living History programs every weekend.