“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” - Theodore Roosevelt, Osawatomie, KS, August 31, 1910
Every year the National Parks Service offers ten entrance fee-free days to all public lands and every year thousands of people hit the trails. Those free entrance days for the National Parks include:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (The third Monday of January)
- President’s Day (The third Monday of February)
- National Park Week (Two weekends in April)
- National Park Service’s Birthday (August 25th)
- National Public Lands Day (Last Saturday in September)
- Veterans Day Weekend
In celebration of these days we thought we would share some facts about our public lands and their founder, and our guide, President Theodore Roosevelt:
That’s almost 1/3 of this great nation that serves as public land! That includes national parks, wildlife refuge, marine sanctuaries, and city squares all of which have their own unique beauty. You see, entrance-fee-free days are not just days were the National Park Service waves entrance fees and promotes outdoor activity, they’re also days dedicated to protecting and preserving the public places we love most. Sure, you can cross off another park on your bucket list, but don’t forget to pick up some plastic bottles along your way.
Today, the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt can be found across our great country through millions of acres of mountains, woods, and wildlife. Often considered as the conversationalist president, Roosevelt made public lands one of his top concerns while in office. As president, he established the United States Forest Service, the first Federal Bird Reserve, and passed the 1906 American Antiquities Act. All in all, he established 150 forest, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments.
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune." -Theodore Roosevelt
Did you know that there are six national parks, either in part or whole, dedicated to our nature-loving president? These include:
- Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace: New York City
- Sagamore Hill National Historic Site: Oyster Bay, NY
- Theodore Roosevelt inaugural site: Buffalo, New York
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park: North Dakota
- Theodore Roosevelt Island: Washington, DC
- Mt. Rushmore National Park Service: South Dakota
Also, did you know that the Teddy Bear was invented in honor of President Roosevelt? Yep! A Brooklyn candy shop owner named Morris Michtom created the stuffed bear after learning about Roosevelt’s refusal to kill a bear on a hunting trip. He called the toy Teddy’s bear.
When Roosevelt first visited the Grand Canyon, shortly after John Wesley Powell’s Grand Canyon expedition, he could tell it was in danger. It was becoming a “must-see-before-you-die” destination and people were traveling from all over to see it. However, with tourism also comes development and Roosevelt knew something needed to be done. So without any support from Congress, he made the Grand Canyon a national monument. It wasn’t until 1919 that Congress officially outlawed all private development in the Grand Canyon.
“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” - Theodore Roosevelt at the Grand Canyon, May 6, 1903
"It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man." - Theodore Roosevelt camping in Yosemite National Park
In 1903, the most significant camping trip in conservation history took place between President Roosevelt and John Muir. For three nights, they camped at different sites throughout Yosemite National Park and together admired the park’s remarkable beauty. By the end of the trip Muir convinced Roosevelt to help him add Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to Yosemite National Park and together they made Yosemite National Park what it is today.
So in honor of President Roosevelt and his work; get outside, explore, learn, grow, volunteer, and conserve. Whether you take advantage of the National Park fee-free days or are becoming an annual member, honor Roosevelt and Honor your Wild.