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National Park FAQ

Information on the National Park Service


National Park FAQ
© National Parks Service

What is the National Park Service?

It is a United States federal agency that manages all national park, many national monuments, and other conservation areas.

When did the National Park Service start?

The National Park Service was created by an Act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916.

Who is the Director of the National Park Service?

Jonathan B. Jarvis

Does any agency oversee the National Park Service?

Yes. The National Park Service is a bureau of the Department of the Interior. The Department's Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks directly oversees its operation.

What is the National Park System comprised of?

The National Park System is made up of 392 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state (except Delaware), the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and even the White House.

What was the first National Park?

Thanks to an Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the country’s first National Park.

What is the largest/smallest national park unit?

The largest national park unit is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK - 13.2 million acres. The smallest national park unit is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA - 0.02 acres.

How many employees are in the National Park Service?

According to the National Park Service, there are approximately 20,500 professionals working, including permanent, temporary, and seasonal. There are also 145,000 volunteers working in the parks.

How can I get involved with the National Park Service?

Volunteering at a national park is a great way to give back to the environment and meet new people.

Working for the NPS is also a great way to explore the country and interact with people and wildlife. Do the research on what appeals to you and what you may be looking for. Keep in mind, the park employs full-time, part-time, temp, and seasonal positions. For employment resources, read about getting a job at a national oark.

How many people visit the national parks?

In 2009, the total number of recreation visitors to the national parks was 285,579,941. The official NPS reports have more detailed informtaion.

What is the National Park Service Budget?

FY 2010 Enacted - $3.16 billion
FY 2011 Request - $3.14 billion

How do I obtain a national park pass?

Visitors can obtain park passes simply by visiting a national park. Most sites have passes available, but it is recommended to call the park before your visit to be sure. Passes may also be purchased online and range from senior passes and disabled passes to annual passes and more! Learn more about the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

How do I make reservations for camping/lodging in the national parks?

Not all parks offer camping or lodging, but many do. Be sure to contact the specific park you wish to visit for detailed information on reservations and fees. Many campgrounds are first come, first served. You can find detailed information on each park's profile page!

What are concessions?

You may have heard the term when reading about a park or a job within a park. There are more than 630 NPS concessionaires which range in size from small, family-owned businesses to national/international corporations. Concessionaires provide park visitors with lodging, transportation, food services, shopping, and other services.

For any other questions, be sure to contact your Guide to National & State Parks!

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