About US National Parks
Visiting National Parks is a particular obsession and many a trip has been planned around visiting national parks and national monuments. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to see the diversity of landscape across this country and experience the great outdoors.
There are 59 officially-designated National Parks in United States and the system is administered by the National Park Service. It also includes areas in the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The mission of the National Park Service: to preserve the natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. In addition to the National Parks there are 100 National Monuments, National Preserves, Historical Parks, Historic sites, Battlefields, Military parks, Recreation Areas, Seashores, Reserves, Parkways, Historic and Scenic Trails and Cemeteries.
Meticulously designed visitor centers staffed with knowledgeable park rangers provide an excellent introduction to most NPS units. Upon entry you receive a beautifully produced park brochure. They are so informative and uniformly of very high quality that we have taken to collecting them as souvenirs of our visit.
A convenient way of keeping a record of each park visit is by maintaining a National Park Passport that looks much like a passport used for international travel. At nearly all NPS units, one or more cancellation stamps is available at the visitor center and we have been obsessively collecting NPS passport cancellations for years.