Help The National Park Foundation Fill Its Summer Scrapbook For A Chance To Win A National Park Adventure

Now that summer is officially here, the National Park Foundation is opening up its Summer Scrapbook and they’re asking us to help them fill it. The NPF is inviting the public to share their favorite photos, videos and travel tips from America’s national parks and in exchange, they’re giving us a chance to win one of two trips to two of the country’s most iconic national parks.

The contest is a simple one. All you need to do is visit the Summer Scrapbook page and share your photos in one of several categories that includes such subjects as sunrise/sunset, wildlife, history and culture and more. There is also a category for short videos and one for posting helpful tips for visiting the parks. You can enter as many as ten items between now and Sept. 8 with each entry increasing your chance to win. On Sept. 10, the Park Foundation will announce ten finalist in each category and the general public will be asked to vote for their favorites. Voting closes on Sept. 30 and everyone who casts a vote will be automatically entered to win a trip through the Grand Canyon by train.

The person who wins the overall popular vote for the best photo, video or travel tip will also win a trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the most spectacular destinations in the entire U.S. park system. Meanwhile, the individual winners of each of the categories will also receive a National Park Explorer Pack that includes outdoor gear from L.L. Bean and Marmot, as well as gifts from the National Park Foundation and several of the parks themselves.

So, if you’ve got some great park photos in your collection, add them to the Scrapbook and see if you can’t win a trip to make even more great national park memories.

‘Sesame Street’ Explores The National Parks

The creative minds behind the long-running PBS children’s television series “Sesame Street” have joined forces with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation to produce a series of videos designed to connect young children with nature. The six videos, which can be found on YouTube, star popular characters Elmo and Murray who are joined by Park Rangers from Grand Canyon National Park and Gateway National Recreation Area. Those rangers help teach viewers about such topics as natural habitats, seasons and animal families.

The videos are obviously aimed at small children but if you’re a fan of the national parks you’ll probably still find them enjoyable as well. They offer a nice glimpse inside the two featured parks while also providing some good information about the natural world around us. So, gather up the kids, crowd around the computer and load up the clips. Who knows, you might even learn something while watching them too!

National Park Week Begins Tomorrow!

The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will kick off their annual spring celebration of the parks tomorrow, as National Park Week officially gets under way. The event will run from April 20-28 and will feature a number of special activities throughout the parks, including free entry Monday through Friday of next week.

The national parks have long been favorite destinations for travelers who enjoy exploring the natural and historical settings that have earned the designation. All told, here are 401 total units that have been given the title of national park, monument, memorial, historic site or recreation area. They represent more than 17,000 miles of trails and 12,000 campsites spread out over a combined 84 million acres. Each of them has something unique to offer visitors and many of them are free all year long. There are so many park units in fact that every American lives within 100 miles of some type of national park experience. To find one near you, check out the complete list of parks here.As a big fan of the parks – and what they have to offer travelers – I am a major supporter of National Park Week and anything else that acknowledges these amazing places. But I do have to take the Park Service to task for skimping out on the fee-free days this time around. While I love that they’re allowing anyone to enter the parks without having to pay Monday through Friday, couldn’t they have found it in their hearts to extend the fee-free days to one or both weekends as well? After all, school is still in session and the summer vacation season hasn’t started yet, so how many people are actually going to get the opportunity to take advantage of the free entry? Perhaps they simply don’t want to give up the funds they bring in on weekends in the face of budget issues due to sequestration. Considering the NPS may even start charging seniors more for their lifetime passes, we may actually be on to something.

Regardless, spring is a great time to visit the national parks as everything is starting to come alive. In Yellowstone it will soon by calving season for bison and elk, while the wildflowers are already in bloom in the Great Smoky Mountains. In Yosemite, the spring thaws will swell the numerous waterfalls that dot the landscape and in Death Valley the cooler weather makes for a more comfortable experience all around.

Enjoy National Park Week and be sure to take advantage of any opportunity to explore “America’s best idea.”

[Photo Credit: National Park Service]

National Park Foundation Launches 2012 Photo Contest

The National Park Foundation has launched its 2012 photo contest giving aspiring photographers an opportunity to show off their skills while helping the organization spotlight America’s spectacular public lands. The competition, which is now in its 12th year, draws more than 14,000 entries on an annual basis.

The contest is open to amateur photographers 13 years of age or older. All images submitted for consideration must have been taken on U.S. public lands, such as national parks and forests, between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012. Submissions are being accepted through the end of this year at

The winner of the competition will be awarded a $15,000 cash prize, an annual Federal Recreation Lands Pass and have their photograph featured on that same pass in 2014. More than 500,000 of the passes are sold each year, which means that a large audience will have exposure to the winning image. Second and third place winners will receive $10,000 and $2500 and an annual pass respectively, while honorable mention winners will receive a two-night stay at a variety of hotels across the country. For more information about the prizes, click here.

If you’re a fan of the national parks and have taken some great photos over the past couple of years, you can enter your images here. If you don’t have any images to submit you still have plenty of time to visit a national park before the deadline.

Help build the Flight 93 national memorial

On 9/11, 40 people died on board United Flight 93 when the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. We don’t know exactly what happened during the plane’s final minutes, but we do know that a number of the passengers worked together to prevent hijackers from taking over the aircraft and crashing it into another building, saving who knows how many lives at the expense of their own.

Now, that National Parks Foundation is working hard to build a memorial for the heroic passengers that were on Flight 93, but like all projects in this struggling economy, it has been difficult to raise the necessary funds. Between now and July 4th, the organization has set a goal of raising $93,000 for the memorial, and thanks to the seemingly ubiquitous Facebook, and a little help from a corporate sponsor, we can all help the cause as well.

Energy company Range Resources has generously pledged to match, dollar-for-dollar, all online donations to the memorial between now and July 4th. They’ve also committed themselves to donating $1 for every new fan of the project on Facebook, up to $46,500. Donations can be made directly to the cause online by clicking here, and remember each of the donations is tax deductible. If you have a Facebook page, you can become a “fan” of the memorial by going here, and pushing the “Like” button located at the top of the page.

It really is that simple to contribute to this very worthy cause.

[Photo Credit: National Park Foundation]