National Public Lands Day 2013

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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20 Years of Helping Hands Protecting Public Lands!

National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 28, 2013! For 20 years, National Public Lands Day has been at the forefront of improving our nation’s public lands. The annual event has grown from 700 volunteers in 1994 to 175,000 volunteers in 2012. Last year, volunteers worked at more than 2,200 sites across every state, the District of Columbia and many U.S. territories. They collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive species, built and maintained over 1500 miles of trails, planted 100,000 trees, removed an estimated 500 tons of trash and so much more! National Public Lands Day is a great opportunity to get outside and help spruce up the parks, community gardens, schoolyards, refuges and other public lands we all enjoy.

Viewer Tip: Want to find events happening where you live? Head over to the National Public Lands Day map and search events by state. No event listed nearby? Don’t hang your head! You can still make a difference by spreading the word about National Public Lands Day to friends and family who might be interested in volunteering. You can also visit a national, regional or local park – take a hike or bike ride and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Speaking of parks, check out these interesting facts and weather tidbits about the ten most-visited National Parks in 2012! (All temperatures are in Fahrenheit.)

Great Smoky Mountains
National Park – 9,685,829 visitors in 2012. Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers over 521,000 acres in North Carolina and Tennessee with 800+ miles of trails. In September, daily highs are in the 70s and 80s. September to November is the driest part of the year for the park.

Grand Canyon
National Park – 4,421,352 visitors in 2012. Grand Canyon National Park covers over 1.2 million acres in Arizona with over 500 miles of trails. Average September temperatures reach the 60s at the Rim with temperatures climbing to the 90s along the Colorado River. Summer thunderstorms and early winter storms can bring on sudden weather changes.

National Park – 3,853,404 visitors in 2012. Yosemite National Park covers over 747,000 acres in California and has 800 miles of trails. Average high temperatures in Yosemite Valley reach into the 80s in September, with lows falling to the 40s.

National Park– 3,447,729 visitors in 2012. Yellowstone National Park covers over 2.2 million acres – 96 percent of the park is in Wyoming, three percent is in Montana and one percent is in Idaho. There are over 1,100 miles of trails. Average temperatures in September are highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s. In the fall, be prepared for sudden changes in weather.

Mountain National Park – 3,229,617 visitors in 2012. Rocky Mountain National Park covers over 265,000 acres in Colorado with 355 miles of trails. Temperatures are often moderate below 9,400 feet, but at higher elevations there can be occasional snowfall – even in July! September and October see crisp, blue skies and generally dry weather.

Zion National Park– 2,973,607 visitors in 2012. Zion National Park covers over 148,000 acres in Utah with over 90 miles of trails. In the fall, cooler temperatures begin to arrive and make for comfortable hiking conditions. But, temperatures can differ by as much as 30 degrees between day and night, so be sure to check the forecast.

Olympic National Park
– 2,824,908 visitors in 2012. Olympic National Park covers over 922,000 acres in Washington with 611 miles of trails. July, August and September are the driest months, with average temperatures in the 60s for the month of September

Grand Teton
National Park – 2,705,256 visitors in 2012. Grand Teton National Park covers 310,000 acres in Wyoming with 242 miles of trails. The park sees sunny days and cold nights in September, with average high temperatures in the upper 60s and low temperatures in the low 30s.

National Park– 2,431,052 visitors in 2012. Acadia National Park covers over 49,000 acres in Maine with over 120 miles of trails. There is variable weather in the fall in the park, with temperatures ranging from 30-70 degrees.

Valley National Park– 2,299,722 visitors in 2012. Cuyahoga National Park covers over 32,000 acres in Ohio with over 125 miles of trails. Average temperatures reach highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid-50s.

All photos courtesy of National Park Service.

(Sources: National Public Lands Day,; National Park Service, “NPA Visitation 2012.”;National Park Service, “Great Smoky Mountains National Park,”, “Grand Canyon National Park,”, “Yosemite National Park,”, “Yellowstone National Park,”, “Rocky Mountain National Park,”, “Zion National Park,”, “Olympic National Park,”, “Grand Teton National Park,”, “Acadia National Park,”, “Cuyahoga Valley National Park,”; Image courtesy of the National Park Service)