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Happy 100th Birthday National Parks! Admission To All 450 Parks, Sites And Areas Free On Thursday

National Parks Service

That National Parks Service is 100 years old today.

The government agency was created on Aug. 25, 1916, but a slew of celebratory events have taken place all over the country since January.

And today, it’s free to visit any of the 450 national parks. Locally, the service maintains several heritage, historical and memorial sites, including the Rivers of Steel, Oil Region, Allegheny Portage Railroad, Friendship Hill, Johnstown Flood, Flight 93 Memorial and Fort Necessity.

“While none of them carry the title 'national park,' they carry a whole bunch of other titles that really tell us why and what they’re protecting,” said Flight 93 Memorial Park Ranger Brendan Wilson.

A new program called “Every Kid in a Park” also kicked off as part of the centennial celebrations, where fourth grade students can enter the parks for free for a year by taking a short quiz online.

Parks officials have said they’re also trying to increase diversity among park visitors.

“Some of the ways that we do this is to just raise awareness of the national parks,” Wilson said, “that we’re everywhere. There are national parks in New York City, Boston. You don’t have to go to the wilderness to be able to find a local national park.” 

In total, there are 19 sites throughout the state maintained by the National Parks Service. A full list is available at findyourpark.com