Why Do We Have National Parks?

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National parks exist to preserve the natural environment and provide a chance to see both historic and natural sites for years to come. National parks can include landmarks, historic sites and large tracts of undeveloped land, all of which are protected for people to visit now and in the future.

Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world and was established in 1872. At the time, its purpose was to protect the area for the enjoyment of future generations. Forty-four years later, in 1916, President Wilson officially signed the National Parks Service into law, establishing the agency to conserve the land surrounding important sites.

Today, there are 400 National Park sites across all 50 states, encompassing a total of 84 million acres of land. Although these parks have entrance fees, they are usually quite small and well worth the cost. National parks can provide full days of fun, and the entrance fees go directly to maintaining and preserving them.

As of 2014, over 280 million people visit national parks annually. Since these parks contain beaches, glaciers, volcanoes, tunnels and peaks, it is no wonder that so many people attend. In fact, the National Parks System even includes two tropical rain forests and a coral reef.