At 100 years, U.S. national parks still inspiring visitors

World Today

FILE – In this undated file photo, the sun sets as Denali casts its reflection on Reflection Pond at the west end of Denali National Park Road a few miles east of Camp Denali in Denali Park, Alaska. In August, 2015, the government changed the name of North America’s tallest peak from Mount McKinley to Denali. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

The U.S. National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday on August 25th with events across the nation, including a giant, human version of it’s emblem in Washington, D.C., a naturalization ceremony on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and an outdoor concert at Yellowstone National Park.

President Barack Obama also teamed up with National Geographic and released a 360-degree virtual reality video at Yosemite National Park.

On Wednesday, Obama also created the Katahdin Woods and Waters monument on 87,000 acres in Maine’s North Woods donated by the founder of Burt’s Bees, Roxanne Quimby. The land, which includes stunning views of the state’s tallest mountain, Katahdin, is cherished by Native Americans, and its history includes visits by naturalist Henry David Thoreau and President Theodore Roosevelt.

The creation of the agency’s 413th property was opposed by state lawmakers and critics fear that it will hinder efforts to rebuild a forest-based economy in the region. Quimby’s son said many parks in the service’s system have been criticized upon creation but “when we look to the future, we see huge amounts of success.”

The park service is offering free admission to all its sites through Sunday. They’re among 16 free days scheduled throughout the centennial year. Some parks are serving birthday cake and offering ranger talks for the occasion.

The park service’s Instagram account has also captured more than 260,000 followers with awe-inspiring shots of the national parks. Here are some of their most memorable photos:

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Another view of Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The view from Saddle Pass at @BadlandsNPS #FindYourPark #SouthDakota #Badlands #nofilter

A photo posted by National Park Service (@nationalparkservice) on

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia

Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska

Just shy of the Arctic Circle lies a land literally frozen in time: Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve Its history and culture live on through those who have come, gone, and still remain. If you #FindYourPark here, you'll retrace the routes of ancient nomadic hunters, dog-team mail carriers, and supply-laden steamboats through one of the great North American geologic faults that bore the 1890s gold rush. Solitude awaits also awaits, as only a handful of hearty souls still call this 160-mile stretch of the Yukon River their year-round home, making it wilder than it was one hundred years ago. See the link in our bio for more information about this month's National Park Getaway #Alaska @AlaskaNPS #NationalParkGetaway #nationalparks #nofilter #solitude #travel ⛺❄?? NPS?/Joshua Spice

A photo posted by National Park Service (@nationalparkservice) on

Story by the Associated Press and CCTV America.