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Parks will be 50 in 2022…

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Of course, the big anniversary of the national park system celebrated this year is at Yellowstone National Park, which celebrates its 150th anniversary. But there are 11 other units in the system turning 50 this year.

Now 1972 was not a watershed year for the growth of the national park system – 1978 saw 29 units added to the park system – but there were various attributes introduced to the system that year, from the first national river from the country and a national seaside to two national recreation areas at opposite ends of the nation.

Here is an overview of these parks:

The sun sets over stunning views of the Ponca Wilderness from a narrow cliff ledge / Aaron Bates via NPS

Buffalo National River, Arkansas, established March 1, 1972

Once established, the Buffalo River became the first “national river” in the park system. It flows 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. Former National Park Service Director George Hartzog, who loved to fish, lobbied for the river to be added to the park system. Writer John McPhee captured Hartzog in his element when he joined the director on the Buffalo River for a profile he was developing on Hartzog.

For two hours now, Hartzog has been sitting in a boat on the Buffalo River, doing the closest thing to anything at all. He is fishing. Fishing is his only hobby. The Park Service stocks bass and bream in Prince William Forest Park near Washington, and Hartzog sometimes goes there for what he contemptuously calls “put and take,” but the Buffalo, Arkansas, in his idea of ​​the real thing, and there’s almost nowhere he’d rather be.

… “We must have this river,” said Hartzog. He wants to make his entire one hundred and fifty miles a national river, which means the Park Service would buy the river and all necessary river land to — as he puts it — “protect his overview.” The opposition consists of the Army Corps of Engineers, who would like to stop the Buffalo with flood barriers, and private owners who are against government intrusion in any form; but Hartzog thinks he can get the river for the park service, and he’ll work to get it as long as he needs it. “It’s just untouched,” he says. “People haven’t found it yet.”

The Pu’ukohola Heiau/NPS Temple Site

Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaii, established August 17, 1972

This site preserves a temple built around 1790 during the reign of Kamehameha I, who was able to unite the Hawaiian Islands.

Pu’ukohola Heiau was designated a historic landmark by the Hawaiian territorial government in 1928. In the 1960s, the Queen Emma Foundation and Queen’s Medical Center, Waimea and other Hawaiian civic clubs, and local community groups played a instrumental in getting Pu’ukohola Heiau designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The Queen Emma Foundation donated 34 acres of land in 1972 encompassing Pulukohola Heiau and the John Young Homestead made possible the creation of the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

The Ranch House at Grant-Kohrs/NPS Ranch National Historic Site

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana, established August 25, 1972

When the brutally cold, snowy winter of 1886-1887 swept through the Rockies, it crippled many western cattle ranchers. For Conrad Kohrs, however, his banker in nearby Butte, Montana gave him a $100,000 loan that allowed him to rebuild the biggest cattle empire the country had ever seen.

The trade deal was perhaps the shrewdest and boldest that Conrad Kohrs has executed, but it has given him the ability to restock his herds while other breeders – some who have lost 95% of their herds to of this terrible winter – went bankrupt. The move was so successful that the cattle baron repaid the loan in just four years.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway, Wyoming, created August 25, 1972

This walk provides a scenic connection between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. To put a finer point, the parkway features a two-lane paved road that connects the South Entrance of Yellowstone to the South Entrance of Grand Teton. The 24,000-acre boardwalk is more than just a road with great views of the Tetons, Snake River, and other scenic delights. As in the two parks it connects, the parkway passes through the habitat of an impressive assortment of wildlife, including grizzly bears, black bears, moose, elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep.

The Longfellow House Library/James P. Jones Photography|RI

Longfellow House Washington Headquarters National Historic Site, Massachusetts (renamed Longfellow National Historic Site 2010), established October 9, 1972

From July 1775 to April 1776, during the Siege of Boston, General George Washington and his family lived in a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which also served as his headquarters during this time. The house was later the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a popular 19th century poet and scholar. The house remains intact until the time of the Longfellow family, including the many artifacts they collected related to Washington and the Revolution. A bust of Washington still stands inside the front door, serving as an unofficial welcome to visitors. Longfellow himself poetized the former occupant of the house in “To a Child”, noting that “Once, within these walls… The father of his country dwelt”.

Hohokam Pima National Monument, Arizona, established October 21, 1972

The Hohokam Pima National Monument recognizes the significance of Snaketown, a Hohokam village inhabited from around AD 300 to around AD 1200. This ancient village, which may have had as many as 2,000 residents, is on the Gila River Indian Reservation near Sacaton, Arizona.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko's bedroom preserved at the National Historic Site/NPS

Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s bedroom preserved at the National Memorial/NPS

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, established October 21, 1972

Polish freedom fighter Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who designed many of the fortifications used by settlers during the American Revolution, lived in this house in Philadelphia. Inside you can see the room where he received notable visitors such as Chief Little Turtle and Thomas Jefferson.

A dark brown fossil turtle on a pale beige stone that is only slightly larger than the fossil. The turtle has a fairly long neck and tail, each about as long as the legs/NPS

Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming, established October 23, 1972

Fossil Butte in southwest Wyoming is home to an amazing collection of fossils from when this part of the country was humid and tropical. Gar, herring and even sunfish (ancient relatives of many freshwater species today) swam in three lakes (Goshute, Uinta and Fossil) that shimmered here 55 million years ago . While the lakes have disappeared, the sediments they left behind have long since been compressed into stone, locking many of these aquatic species in place. Visit the monument’s visitor center and not only can you tour a room full of incredible specimens, but you can also watch a preparator clean the matrix surrounding a fossil.

Dungeness Mansion Ruins / NPS

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia, established October 23, 1972

Georgia’s southernmost barrier island offers visitors history, nature, and beauty in a setting as peaceful and uncrowded as any National Park Service unit. Wandering the grounds of Thomas and Lucy Carnegie’s fire-damaged mansion will likely result in an encounter with grazing wild horses, descendants of generations of animals that have populated the island for hundreds of years.

One of America’s finest Atlantic beaches, often with no one else in sight, rewards walkers with an abundance of sand dollars and seashells. Tours to the northern part of the island offer visitors the opportunity to step inside the intimate First African-American Church where, one day in September 1996, John Kennedy, Jr. married Carolyn Bessette.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse, over 250 years old/NPS, Jesse Blatter

Gateway National Recreation Area, New York, established October 27, 1972

Spanning the greater New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, this park features a wildlife refuge, a popular New Jersey beach, historic structures that housed officers protecting New York Harbor, and a lighthouse more than 100 years old. 250 years. The NRA’s Jamaica Bay unit has been envisioned by the Park Service as America’s largest urban campground, with public transportation connections to greenways and bike paths, kayak trails in the bay , an environmental education center for schools and community groups that develop stewards for the bay and restore landscape features that reflect Floyd Bennett Field’s aviation heritage.

Point Bonita Light at Golden Gate NRA / Kurt Repanshek

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California, established October 27, 1972

Golden Gate is a wonderful collection of sites centered around San Francisco. Within its grounds are Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz Island, Point Bonita Light, San Francisco Presidio, Fort Point National Historic Site, Crissy Field, and more.

The NRA encompasses over 80,000 acres with 37 distinct park sites and 1,200 historic structures. There are beaches and over 130 miles of trails.

If you’re looking to avoid the park crowds this summer, you can do so at some of these sites.