Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: National Park Service celebrates 100 years | VailDaily.com

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: National Park Service celebrates 100 years

Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon. These were the primordial sites of our National Park Service.

John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Stephen Mather. They were the visionaries of our National Park Service.

Muir's elegant writing influenced presidents, congressmen and common folks to become inspired and moved to action by nature.

"The mountains are calling and I must go" still resonates over a century after Muir wrote that famous phrase in a letter to his sister about his journeys. Through his writings and advocacy, Muir went on to help create several national parks.

President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the parks system's biggest patrons. During his administration from 1901 to 1909, he was deemed the first environmentalist president. In 1906, he signed the National Monuments Act, which protected sites like the Grand Canyon and preserved countless wildlife sanctuaries, national forests and federal game reserves.

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Stephen Mather was a wealthy businessman who was gregarious in nature and used that personality trait to help him win over political and public support for the national parks system. Mather was appointed National Parks Service director in 1917 and worked endlessly to promote park access and development, oftentimes contributing greatly from his own personal fortune.

On Aug. 25, the National Park Service celebrated 100 years of preserving the natural beauty of our nation's crown jewels. Today, the National Parks Service operates over 390 national parks, monuments, battlefields, seashores and recreation areas.

If you are looking for a nice weekend getaway or even a day trip, Colorado is fortunate to have four national parks:

-The Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park near Montrose.

-Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Mosca.

-Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez.

-Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park and Grand Lake.

Colorado also houses other attractions like Colorado National Monument near Fruita and Dinosaur National Monument near the Utah border.