A screenshot of Badlands National Park, one of the many national parks featured in the new IMAX film, National Parks Adventure.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created a new federal bureau, the National Park Service (NPS), to manage and protect the country’s then 35 national parks.

This year marks 100 years of the NPS managing and protecting the natural areas that have grown in number to 58, and the organization is celebrating with a red carpet event and screening of the new IMAX film, National Parks Adventureat the Santikos Palladium on Thursday, August 25. Prior to the screening, which will begin at 6:45 p.m., cake and refreshments will be served from 9 a.m. until it runs out at the Visitor Center at Mission San Jose to celebrate the centennial, courtesy of Los Compadres de San Antonio Missions, the nonprofit fundraising arm of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Starting at 6 p.m., attendees will be able to walk the red carpet and talk to park rangers from the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and Padre Island National Seashore in the theater lobby before the premiere of the IMAX film narrated by Robert Redford. Thursday’s event will be the only screening of the film in San Antonio.

Attendees will be admitted on a first come, first serve basis until the theater’s 449 seats are filled.

“The goal on this particular day is to celebrate what is actually the 100th birthday (of the NPS),” said Lauren Gurniewicz, chief of interpretation at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Raising awareness and drawing the community’s attention to NPS and national parks are among further objectives. “Parks aren’t just places like the Missions or Padre Island, but all the public places in San Antonio that people can enjoy,” Gurniewicz added. 

The National Park Foundation and NPS wanted the centennial to be more than just a birthday party. Earlier this year, they launched the Find Your Park website, which allows users to connect to national parks online through videos and personal testimonies. The Find Your Park initiative as well as the event on August 25 are geared toward reaching new audiences, particularly families.

“Anyone from the general public (is welcome to the event),” Gurniewicz said. “What we are trying to do with the centennial of the national parks is really try and make sure that everyone understands that the parks’ stories (on the Find Your Park website) are for everyone and everyone feels welcome (at our events).”

Activities leading up to the premiere include opening remarks from San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Superintendent Mardi Arce and Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) as well as a group stretching exercise led by local traveling yoga school Mobile Om, which regularly teaches yoga classes in city parks and atop the Hays Street Bridge. NPS, REI and the San Antonio River Authority will also have booths in the theater lobby with information and activities and REI swag bags for the first 100 attendees.

(Read more: Mobile Yoga Stretches Around San Antonio)

City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) will also be in attendance.

In 2015, more than 307 million people visited a national park, according to the NPS. They service 14 locations across Texas and brought in more than five million visitors in 2015 alone, a 7% increase from the previous year. In the same year, visitors spent an estimated $16.9 billion in areas near parks known as “local gateway regions,” while visiting areas around the world serviced by the NPS. That $16.9 billion supported 295,300 jobs and $32 billion in economic output into the national economy.

National Parks Adventure is one of many efforts NPS has made in an attempt to highlight the importance of our parks and push for more community engagement, particularly with our country’s youth.

Filmed in more than 30 national park locations, MacGillivray Freeman‘s film follows the spectacular journey of mountaineer Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe, and artist Rachel Pohl through Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches, and Glacier National Park.

(Watch the trailer for National Parks Adventure, below)

YouTube video

“National Parks Adventure captures the stunning beauty of our wild places and reminds us these landscapes are an essential part of the human spirit,” narrator and Academy Award winner Robert Redford stated in a news release.

Two-time Academy Award-nominated director Greg MacGillivray said in a news release that the film celebrates national parks as well as emphasizes the importance of protecting them.


“There are 408 national parks in our country that many families have not been able to explore,” MacGillivray stated. “Our hope is that National Parks Adventure will encourage our audiences to discover the beauty and sanctuary of these American treasures, which belong to every one of us.”

Update: Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park park rangers will no longer be in attendance at the event. Also, Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) will be speaking at the event instead of City Manager Sheryl Sculley or Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5), who will both still attend the event but won’t speak. The article has been updated to reflect that. 

Disclosure: The Rivard Report is a sponsor of this event.

Top image: A screenshot of Badlands National Park, one of the many national parks featured in the new IMAX film, National Parks Adventure.

Related Stories:

San Antonio: America’s City With its Own National Historic Park

San Antonio Missions Miss Out on $236k Vote Your Park Grant

History, Culture, Celebration to Collide at Inaugural World Heritage Festival

Council Stresses Preservation of ‘Authenticity’ in World Heritage Work Plan

Avatar photo

Katie Walsh

Katie Walsh studies journalism and English at the University of Texas at Austin and will graduate in May 2017.