In 1872 Yellowstone was established as the United States’ first national park. This area was intended to be used as “a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and set off a worldwide national parks movement. As the United States continued to authorize national parks and monuments, it became clear that a unified management system was needed. (In those early years, different parks were overseen by the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, and even the War Department.) So in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into existence the National Park Service, a new federal bureau designed to protect and manage the country’s national parks.

A century later, the National Park Service (NPS) continues to look after some of the United States’ most beloved locales. More than 20,000 NPS employees care for America’s more than 400 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

Already looking ahead to its next century of service, the NPS will enjoy celebrating the past 100 years this summer. August 25, 2016 marks the NPS’ 100th Birthday and there are a number of things being done around the country to help celebrate. The U.S. Postal Service will be honoring the NPS with 16 new postage stamps featuring national parks and the U.S. Mint will be unveiling three commemorative coins. A new IMAX film is also being released to show off the beauty of our country’s national parks.

Of course, the best way to help the NPS celebrate is to get out and enjoy the parks first hand. Montana is home to nearly a dozen national parks and NPS managed sites for you to explore. Throughout the summer, there will be numerous events happening at these locations (all of which can be found online).

For more information about the National Park Service and about parks in your area, visit nps.gov.

Designated National Park Sites in Montana

Big Hole, Wisdom, MT
This site was designated a National Monument on June 23, 1910. It was redesignated a National Battlefield on May 17, 1963. The trail system was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1977. A year-round visitor center is located in the park.

Bighorn Canyon, Fort Smith, MT, WY
The vast, wild landscape of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world, and experience the wonders of this extraordinary place in over 120,000 acres.

Fort Union Trading Post, MT, ND
Between 1828 and 1867, Fort Union was the most important fur trade post on the Upper Missouri River. Today, Fort Union interprets how portions of the fort may have looked in 1851.

Glacier, Northwest MT
Experience Glacier’s historic chalets, lodges, pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude.

Grant-Kohrs Ranch, Deer Lodge, MT
Once the headquarters of a 10 million acre cattle empire, Grant- Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site preserves these symbols and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history.

Crow Agency, MT
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserves the site and memorializes the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian’s last armed efforts to preserve their way of life.
Nez Perce, MT, ID, OR, WA
This was established in 1965 to tell the story of the Nez Perce. Spread out over four states, following the route of the 1877 conflict, this park offers something for everyone. The history and culture of the Nez Perce surrounds the park.

Yellowstone MT, WY, ID
Yellowstone is the world’s first national park. Marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers. Explore mountains, forests, and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold.

Lewis & Clark, MT, ID, IL, IA, KS, MO, NE, ND, OR, SD, WA
Between May 1804 and September 1806, the Corps of Discovery traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In their search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean, they opened a window into the west for the young United States.