‘Tis the season! From Alaska to Georgia, there are countless holiday activities to enjoy in America’s national parks.
The National Park Foundation and National Park Service kicks-off the holiday season in Washington, D.C.’s President’s Park with the National Christmas Tree Lighting. This annual event can be seen LIVE December 1, beginning with the pre-show at 4:30 pm ET.
In addition to this 89 year-old tradition, the National Park Foundation reveals some of not-to-be-missed holiday festivities for national park visitors around the country this holiday season:
Alaska – Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
December 2, 2011: Join in the holiday cheer with performances by local talent, sing along carols, stories, poems, and refreshments at the Yuletide Christmas Concert in the National Park Service Auditorium.
Colorado – Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
December 2-3: Witness the joys, pleasures, and pastimes of the 1840s at an isolated trading post with candlelight tours of the fort.
Georgia – Fort Pulaski National Monument
November 27: Fort Pulaski will commemorate the 149th anniversary of the Grand Thanksgiving Fete and Festival of 1862 by recreating the 48th New York Infantry first Thanksgiving in the fort with activities for all ages including foot, sack and wheelbarrow races, demonstrations, and a Civil War garb burlesque parade.
December 10: Visitors can take part in Holiday Traditions in the Dunes including activities in four different park locations, tree decorating, and a live performance from Nordic Kids.
Iowa – Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
December 2-4: The birthplace of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, will host A Christmas Past.
Louisiana – Cane River Creole National Historical Park
December 10: Stop by the Magnolia Plantation Overseer’s house for Christmas crafts and live music by the LaCour Trio. The entire plantation complex will be open for self guided tours.
Missouri – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
December 3, 10, 17: Enjoy the 2011 Historic Holiday Traditions Weekend Series. The Historical Old Courthouse will feature music and activities that will take place in the rotunda, which will be adorned beautifully with Victorian decorations. Complimentary cookies and juice will be served during all weekend events.
Montana – Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
December 4: Explore the elegant Kohrs’ family ranch house. It will be decorated to reflect a Victorian Christmas.
Nebraska – Homestead National Monument of America
November 25-December 31: The Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures celebrates the winter traditions of people who lived on the Great Plains during the homesteading era.
New Mexico – Petroglyph National Monument
November 26: Visitors can celebrate the beginning of the 2011 winter season at a Holiday Open House in the Visitor Center. Light holiday refreshments will also be served. A traditional horno oven Pueblo Indian bread baking demonstration will take place.
New York – Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
November 25-December 21: Visit the Vanderbilt Mansion to view the holiday decorations; or kick off the holiday season at the special Holiday Open House on December 4.
Ohio – Cuyahoga Valley National Park
November 17-December 20: Journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express Children’s Holiday Train. Enjoy hearing a reading of The Polar Express en route to the North Pole. Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas. Cookies and hot chocolate are served.
Pennsylvania – Steamtown National Historic Site
November 23, 24, December 1: Join in the merriment and festivities aboard the steam-powered Holiday Express rides to Moscow, Pennsylvania. Enjoy holiday songs, stories, and other fun activities for the children at both the former passenger station and freight depots.
Utah – Golden Spoke National Historic Site
December 28–30: Visitors can take part in the annual Winter Steam Festival and watch one of their locomotives in action at the same spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed over 142 years ago.
Washington – Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Friday evenings through mid-December: Visitors take park in a guided lantern tour through the Fur Store, the Counting House, and Bake House. You will learn what activities would have occurred once the sun set at Fort Vancouver
National Parks Service
84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites are protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.
National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation is the national charitable partner of the National Park Service.
We didn’t inherit the earth; we are borrowing it from our children.
—Native American Proverb