In honor of The National Park Service's 98th Birthday, they are waiving the entrance fees of the parks that charge them.
Established in 1916, the National Park Service was created to care for all of the national parks throughout the country. Each park represents an important part of our collective identity. Some parks commemorate notable people and achievements, others conserve magnificent landscapes and natural wonders, and all provide a place to have fun and learn.
If you can't make it to a US National Park in celebration (there are 401 of them), you might consider watching Ken Burns' series on PBS, The National Parks: America's Best Idea which is making an encore appearance September 2-7, 2014. You can also pick the DVD series up at your library or watch it stream for free on Amazon Prime.
Then for something a bit different, take some time to enjoy this timelapse astrophotography video created by Gavin Heffernan at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
When I first started researching King's Canyon (and Sequoia National Park), a location John Muir called "A rival to Yosemite," I found numerous daytime landscape photos of its stunning vistas, but very little night astrophotography. With the Giant Sequoia Trees and the impossibly steep cliffs of King's Canyon serving as beautiful-yet-formidable "obstacles" to an unobstructed sky, it seemed a worthy challenge to seek out some night skyscapes in the parks, while capturing the verdant beauty of the landscapes by day. This meant a lot of serious driving across much of the combined 1,353 square miles of the two parks (with a principal focus on the Mineral King and Zumwalt Meadows areas) but it paid off with some really amazing night skies, including the biggest meteor strike I've captured on camera (1:41 & 2:26), some epic summertime milky way passes, and more wild star trails experimentations.
Happy Birthday to you, National Park Service! Keep up the magnificent work preserving nature for us to enjoy for centuries to come!