The first national park, Yellowstone, was so designated 144 years ago, but the National Park Service as an organization will celebrate its centennial this week, 100 years after its creation with the signature of President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916.
For North Carolina, 1916 also was a special year, with the General Assembly creating the first state park at Mount Mitchell, making this year the centennial of the North Carolina State Parks.
Both actions are being celebrated throughout 2016 at various parks in the two systems. The National Park Service has a special theme for this year’s celebration, Find Your Park.
On Sunday, The Mount Airy News began a series called Find Your Park, in celebration of both milestones. Today, that series continues with four pages of our paper devoted to area national, state, and even local parks. Our sister papers — The Elkin Tribune, The Pilot Mountain News, The Carroll News, The Stokes News, and The Jefferson Post, join us this week in publishing these pages. Over the coming days and weeks we will continue publishing profiles of area parks and facilities, places that might be just down the street, or other facilities that would make a good day trip.
The theme isn’t just about finding state and national parks, as one National Park superintendent shared with one of our staff members. It is about finding any public park and taking the time to enjoy it, explore it and celebrate it.
That shouldn’t be difficult in our region, since there is a local, state or national park around nearly every bend in the road.
Our first story, which ran Sunday, focused on Mount Airy’s Riverside Park. Tuesday, we profiled Fisher River Park in Dobson. Today, a whole set of stories on pages A9 – A12 focuses on some of the national and state parks from across our coverage areas, which include Stokes, Surry, Yadkin, Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties in North Carolina and Carroll and surrounding counties in Virginia..
Local, state or federal, all of these parks have things in common, such as free admission; beautiful views; trails to hike, bike or horseback ride; nearby waterways or ponds; and multiple recreational opportunities.
Their enjoyment is open for the taking, and we encourage all of our readers to get out of the house and visit the parks in the area. Some you may have been to numerous times, some you may have never heard of, but we hope you find something in each one to relish and enjoy.
We hope you Find Your Park on this journey with us.