“The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations … which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
– Section I of the National Park Service Organic Act, 1916
100 years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the National Park Service Organic Act, creating the National Park Service. The land that the NPS administers is part of our shared heritage, spirituality, and identity as Americans. The parks are a slice of our country to escape to, to embrace, to learn from, and to sometimes just kick back and have a nice cold beer in. They belong to all of us. Unfortunately, we can’t all make it to all the parks this weekend. America is a rather large country to traverse after all, and the NPS oversees 84,000,000 acres.
The Google Arts & Culture teamed up with the NPS to give those of us who can’t get to a (FREE!) National Park this weekend the chance to explore from our tablet or smartphone. The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks offers desktop adventurers deeply immersive views into the Kenai Fjords, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, and Dry Tortugas. Digging deeper, you’ll find more immersive exhibits, virtual tours, and videos covering parks from sea to shining sea.
If it’s a more intimate guided tour you’re looking for, then let the First Family show you around. National Geographic, Oculus, and Felix and Paul Studios teamed up with the Obamas on their Father’s Day tour of Yosemite National Park this summer. The result is a 360-degree interactive tour of the park with our President as your guide. We’ll leave you with the President’s words.
“We connect not just with our own spirit, but with something greater. It’s almost like the spirit of America itself is right here.” -Barack Obama, 2016