On August 25th the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary, a milestone that is indelibly inked into most Americans lives.

Who hasn’t visited a National Park?  If you haven’t visited one of them, you are in TheStoneHouseManassasluck because the Washington, D.C. region is chock full of National Parks.  Be it Manassas National Battlefield, Great Falls, Wolf Trap, George Washington Memorial Parkway, or the National Mall, the National Park system offers up a treasure trove of our history, unparalleled natural beauty, world-class performing arts, a great trail system and the central focus of the Nation’s Capital, all within close reach to every residence in Northern Virginia.

However, prior to the establishment of the National Park Service (NPS), Congress designated Yellowstone Park as the first federal parkland.  According the NPS website “By the Act of March 1, 1872, Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and placed it under exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior. The founding of Yellowstone National Park began a worldwide national park movement. Today more than 100 nations contain some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves.”

Subsequently, in August of 1916 Congress had the foresight to establish one of the great institutions of government, the National Park Service (NPS).  Influenced by numerous letters from landscape artist, John Muir, President Woodrow Wilson created the NPS, and transferred stewardship of  35 national parks to it as well as responsibility for those yet to be established. As residents of the greater Washington, D.C. area, we can avail ourselves to the oldest parks of the National Park System, simply by visiting D.C.

According to Wikipedia, the National Capital Parks are the oldest parks in the National Park System. These parks began with the founding of the District of Columbia in 1790. The President appointed three Federal Commissioners to design a district ten miles (16 km) square on the Potomac River for the permanent seat of the Federal Government. The current National Capital Parks office is a direct lineal descendant of the original office established by the first commissioners of the District of Columbia in 1791.

President George Washington engaged Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant to design the new capital city. The L’Enfant Plan proposed a city of beauty. The plan was designed around a series of boulevards, parks and The Mall. Additionally, L’Enfant envisioned: a Congress Garden and a President’s Park embellished with statues, columns, or grand obelisks; fountains; an equestrian statue of Washington; a Naval Column; and a zero milestone.

Rock Creek Park was authorized on September 27, 1890, two days after Sequoia and three days before Yosemite. Congress carried over some of the language of the Yellowstone Act into all three acts. Like Yellowstone, Rock Creek Park was “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States,” where all timber, animals, and curiosities were to be retained “in their natural condition, as nearly as possible.” Though not a “National Park,” Rock Creek Park is a major urban park of the nation.”

In corresponding articles in this edition of @livemore, we note that the Trust for Public Land ranks this region quite high in its accessibility to parks and recreation, due in major part to the proximity of so many National Parklands.  As one can see in the highlight box, our region is home to more than 50 National Parks, Monuments or Historic Sites.  Each is obviously unique in itself and represent either a place of national historical significance, unabashed beauty or is representative of our wonderful culture.

As mentioned previsously, most are within biking or walking distance of your homes.  Just about every park will be doing something special on August 25th, so take the day and go experience your National Parks.  Learn more at www.nps.gov.


The greater National Capital Region is home to these National Parks:

Antietam National Battlefield (MD)

Catoctin Mountain Park (MD)

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (DC, MD, WV)

George Washington Memorial Parkway (DC, MD, VA)

Arlington House – The Robert E. Lee Memorial (VA)

Clara Barton National Historic Site (MD)

Claude Moore Colonial Farm (VA)

Glen Echo Park (MD)

Great Falls Park (VA)

Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove
on the Potomac National Memorial (VA)

Theodore Roosevelt Island (VA)

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (WV, VA, MD)

National Mall and Memorial Parks (DC)

African American Civil War Memorial (DC)

Constitution Gardens (DC)

Fordís Theatre National Historic Site (DC)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (DC)

George Mason Memorial (DC)

John Ericsson Memorial (DC)

Korean War Veterans Memorial (DC)

Lincoln Memorial (DC)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (DC)

National Mall (DC)

Old Post Office Tower (DC)

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site (DC)

Thomas Jefferson Memorial (DC)

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (DC)

Washington Monument (DC)

World War II Memorial (DC)

Rock Creek Park (DC)

Civil War Defenses of Washington (DC)

Meridian Hill Park (DC)

Peirce Mill (DC)

Old Stone House (DC)

National Capital Parks – East (DC)

Anacostia Park (MD)

Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD)

Capitol Hill Parks (DC)

Carter G. Woodson Home (DC)

Fort Dupont Park (DC)

Fort Foote Park (MD)

Fort Washington (MD)

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (DC)

Greenbelt Park (MD)

Harmony Hall (MD)

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens (DC)

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House

National Historic Site (DC)

Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm (MD)

Piscataway Park (MD)

Manassas National Battlefield Park (VA)

Monocacy National Battlefield (MD)

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (DC, MD, PA, VA)

Prince William Forest Park (VA)

White House / Presidentís Park (DC)

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (VA)