That's why Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act of 1916 into law one hundred years ago, creating the National Park Service in order to preserve the nation's most extraordinary scenery and the wildlife that inhabit it. The crucial goal of the NPS is to leave these awe-inspiring landscapes and physical formations unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
In other words, without the NPS, nothing would prevent a Wal-Mart or McDonald's from setting up shop next to Old Faithful.
With that said, the NPS turning 100 years old is a monumental occasion—not just for outdoor enthusiasts, but anyone who believes in the conservation of flora and fauna—and they're throwing a yearlong party to celebrate.
In addition, many companies, organizations and individuals are finding ways to pay homage to the great work our National Park Service has done the past century.
Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate:
Hike or Paddle 100 Miles Challenge1 of 7
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has challenged its park goers to hike 100 miles of the park's extensive network of trails over the course of 2016. Florida's 11 national parks are also presenting their visitors with a similar challenge: Paddling 100 miles in the year of NPS' centennial celebration.
Those who log 100 miles of hiking—while taking selfies and posting to social media along the way, of course—receive a commemorative pen and an invitation to a Smoky Mountains celebration. Similarly, those who paddle 100 miles will receive a commemorative patch. With one month in the books, you better get walking (or paddling).
Airstream's Limited-Edition Trailer2 of 7
Can you imagine a more perfect way to celebrate the NPS centennial than riding through our nation's vast land—and hitting up all 59 national parks in the process—in this limited-edition trailer specially designed for the NPS' 100th birthday? Iconic trailer maker Airstream teamed up with Pendleton Wollen Mills to create a trailer that pays homage to the history of our national parks while continuing Airstream's reputation for making high-quality trailers.
Pendleton Wollen Mills also has announced a special line of clothing, blankets and accessories to mark this historic occasion.
The REI Co-op Guide to the National Parks3 of 7
There's no doubt this year will be an enormous one for national park attendance. Interest in national parks and a desire to visit these astonishing landscapes has been added to the travel plans of millions of Americans. In preparation for this heightened interest, outdoor retailer REI has partnered with the National Park Service in an effort to create park guides, digital content, live coverage and even an app available for iPhones and Androids.
This app, called the REI Co-op Guide to the National Parks, contains trail maps, history lessons and descriptions of all 59 national parks, along with first-hand information provided by the app's users.
16 Days of Free Admission4 of 7
Perhaps the most exciting development for those looking to celebrate the centennial by actually visiting a national park is the NPS announcing free admission to all national parks for 16 days this year.
While national parks usually charge an entrance fee between $3 to $30, you can pocket your wallet on the following days and enjoy the parks' majesty free of charge:
April 16 through 24
Aug. 25 through 28
National Park-Themed Legos5 of 7
While the NPS centennial might matter little to kids who require touchscreens, videogames and, well, more than just scenery to capture their imaginations, Legos has an answer.
The classic block-on-block toy company has proposed national park-themed Legos to celebrate the centennial. The idea has already generated 10,000 supporters at ideas.lego.com and has moved on to the third and final stage of review. The company already has 20 vignettes you can view on their website. If chosen for release, this limited-edition Lego set will make national parks fun and more engaging for the kiddos.
More Than Just Parks6 of 7
The coolest job in the world? Yeah, pretty much. Outdoor enthusiasts, filmmakers and brothers Will Pattiz and Jim Pattiz have taken on the monumental task of producing stunning films for all 59 national parks. With six down and 53 left to go, this is a journey anyone with an adventurous bone in their body should follow.
While this is an excellent way to get to know all of our nation's national parks, we should warn you, the videos will only make you want to see these awe-inspiring lands for yourself. You can see the videos and make donations to this amazing project at the link below.