National Park Service celebrates 100th birthday

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Thursday is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The service, charged with preserving 59 National Parks , was founded Aug. 25, 1916. But the first National Park – Yellowstone – was actually established nearly five decades earlier for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.

“No camera – especially one with me behind it – can fully capture the beauty and majesty of America’s national parks,” President Obama said earlier this week. “From Glacier and Denali to Gettysburg and Seneca Falls, our more than 400 parks and other sites capture our history and our sense of wonder.”

By 1916, the Department of Interior oversaw 14 national parks, but there was no formal parks organization to operate them. Congress passed the Organic act establishing the National Park Service.

More than 307.2 million people visited National Parks last year. People have the chance to visit free of charge from Aug. 25-28 in honor of the centennial. Here are some highlights from across the nation’s National Parks: