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15 Stunning Vintage Photos of U.S. National Parks

AFAR Logo By Alina Polishuk of AFAR | Slide 1 of 17: These windswept rock formations in <a href="">Arches National Park</a> just beg to be climbed, as demonstrated by these visitors in 1972.<br><br>Courtesy of <a href="">National Archives</a>

Before there was the National Park Service, there was just Yellowstone. In 1872, Congress declared the wild and vast territory, scattered with spewing geysers and wandering buffalo, as a “public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” By 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed an act officially establishing the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior had extended protection to 35 more parcels of land.More than a hundred years later, 59 U.S. parks are under the protection of the NPS. And they are parks meant for marveling at, playing in, and exploring. But their preserved presence also acts as a humbling reminder of the beauty of the natural world. Celebrate that beauty with free park admission every August 25th.

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