6:00am

Mon April 22, 2013
Parks & Rec

Celebrate Colorado's National Parks This Week

It’s National Park Week, the annual commemoration of America’s cultural heritage and tradition of preserving sites of natural beauty and early human civilization.

Many visitors are lured by the free admission to any of the country’s 401 national parks Monday, April 22 through Friday, April 26. Colorado knows that it's much more than that though - it's the chance to see an elk and the scenery in Rocky Mountain National Park. The ruins and history you find at Mesa Verde National Park. Or the chance to sled down an actual sand dune at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The National Park Service began in 1916 with a mission focused on preserving the country's historic, cultural and scenic resources. In 1966 the emphasis shifted from preservation toward making the parks accessible to the public. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns was inspired to produce The National Parks: America's Best Idea, which aired as a six-part series on PBS in 2009.

Entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park
Credit J. Stephen Conn / Creative Commons/Flickr

According to the National Park Foundation, the park system encompasses more than 84 million acres, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, and 12,000 campsites.

Find a searchable calendar of events for National Park Week, which runs April 20 - 28, here.