Saturday is National Public Lands Day, and parks across the country are gearing up for their yearly tradition, volunteering while connecting with nature.
National Public Lands Day, established in 1994, is known as the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) created the day in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, Department of the Army, and Department of Agriculture.
The day, and even the weekend, brings out thousands of volunteers to help improve, preserve, and restore national parks and public lands.
NEEF says that this day celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages the use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits.
As an effort for people to get outside to help, there is free entry at national parks and public lands.
This year's efforts are more critical than ever because of the recent overcrowding at national parks.
Michael Reynolds, Regional Director for Interior Regions 6, 7, and 8 for the National Parks Service, spoke in front of Congress in late July to talk about the impacts of overcrowding at the national parks.
Reynolds focused on the "significant crowding congestions" in the most popular 12 to 15 destination parks and addressed strategies to help with preserving these lands.
There are 423 parks in the National Park System encompassing more than 85 million acres across the country. The National Park Service and NEEF are urging anyone and everyone to join in these efforts to help preserve our national parks and public lands.
Top 10 most visited national parks
Below are descriptions from the National Park Service about each park and a FOX Weather forecast for each location for National Public Lands Day.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World-renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park. Forecast: Sunny with highs in the middle 60s.
- Yellowstone National Park – On March 1, 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park for all to enjoy the unique hydrothermal and geologic wonders. People from around the world have been drawn to Yellowstone to witness these wonders for themselves. Now, millions of people come to Yellowstone each year. Forecast: Sunny and breezy with highs in the low to middle 70s.
- Zion National Park – Utah's first national park! Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present-day adventures. Forecast: Sunny and hot. High temperatures will be in the middle 90s.
- Rocky Mountain National Park – Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet, including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top! Forecast: Sunny and breezy. High temperatures will be in the low 50s.
- Grand Teton National Park – Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park, where you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River, and enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place. Forecast: Sunny with highs in the low 70s.
- Grand Canyon National Park – In Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. The park is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon, a mile (1.6 km) deep and 18 miles (29 km) wide. Layered bands of colorful rock reveal millions of years of geologic history. Grand Canyon is unmatched in the vistas it offers visitors from the rim. Open 24 hours. Forecast: Chance for isolated showers, but otherwise mostly sunny with highs in the middle to upper 70s.
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Forecast: Showers and storms are expected, with highs in the middle 60s.
- Acadia National Park – Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States, an abundance of habitats, and rich cultural heritage. At 3.5 million visits a year, it's one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States. Visitors enjoy 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads. Forecast: Rainy and breezy. High temps expected in the middle 60s.
- Olympic National Park – With its incredible range of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline. Forecast: Sunny with highs in the middle to upper 70s.
- Joshua Tree National Park – Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Forecast: Chance of storms in the afternoon with highs in the low 90s.