When the U.S. Congress established Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872, it was “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Its founding marked the birth of the U.S. National Park System and eventually launched a worldwide movement to protect outdoor spaces and historical landmarks. Since 1904, some 15 billion visitors have explored the wild wonders of the U.S. parks.
In 2016, inspired by the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, photographer Jonathan Irish visited every U.S. national park over 52 weeks.
“[National parks] are sacred and cherished places—our greatest personal and national treasures,” says Irish. “It’s a gift to spend a year adventuring and capturing incredible images and stories in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.”
Since Irish’s journey, the National Parks Service has designated four additional parks: the Gateway Arch in St. Louis; Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan; White Sands in New Mexico; and New River Gorge in West Virginia. There are now 63 spaces to explore across the country. Celebrate National Park Week with images of these priceless national treasures, from the crystalline waters of Dry Tortugas in Florida to the deep, dark recesses of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave.