Happy Birthday, Glacier National Park!

On this day in 1910, Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana was established. Created from ancient upheavals and the artistic whittling of glaciers, its magnificent peaks and valleys are revered by local Native American tribes and are an awe-inspiring experience for visitors.

Named for the glaciers that sculpted the landscape more than 10,000 years ago and for the Little Ice Age glaciers there today, Glacier National Park preserves more than a million acres of rugged peaks, panoramic valleys, flowering alpine meadows, sparkling rivers, spectacular lakes, and great wooded forests in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

The park’s Triple Divide Peak straddles the Continental Divide. From this location, the water that falls west flows to the Pacific Ocean, while the water that falls northeast and southeast flows to the Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Ranges in elevation and the variable climatic conditions created by the park’s location yield a patchwork of habitats enjoyed by biologically diverse plant and bird communities.

More than 1,800 species of plants have been identified in the park to date. The park is a haven for wildlife with 277 species of birds and 67 species of mammals, including bald eagle, wolverine, lynx, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and wolf. The park is also home to one of the largest remaining grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states.

Issued earlier this year, the 85-cent Glacier National Park stamp is part of the Scenic American Lanscapes series. On June 23, the Postal Service will release a second set of Scenic American Landscapes stamped cards featuring 10 stamp images from the Scenic American Landscapes series, including Glacier National Park.

America’s Landlocked Rain Forest: The Great Smoky Mountains

Encompassing approximately 800 square miles of mountainous terrain in both North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life. Scientists believe that the 12,000 identified species of wildlife account for only one-tenth of the organisms that flourish there. Also found in the park are structures that represent the Southern Appalachian Mountain culture of the settlers who once lived in the area.

The mists that enshroud the Great Smoky Mountains are the result of evaporation and incredible downpours that qualify the park’s highest peaks as rain forests. Those who follow the park’s hundreds of miles of hiking trails find that in the Great Smoky Mountains, nearly every stream or river leads to a waterfall. Established by Congress in 1934 and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, the park receives some 10 million visitors annually.

To celebrate National Park Week, we’re holding a daily contest here on the blog centered around our love of national parks. Each day’s single winner will receive a set of the Scenic American Landscapes stamped cards, which showcase photographs from parks across the country.

To enter the contest for today, simply answer the following question:

How many acres does the largest national park measure?

Submit your answer to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com and remember, spelling counts! The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. Deadline for entries is 12 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 29. Good luck!

The Majesty and Splendor of the U.S.’s Oldest National Park

Ninth in the Scenic American Landscapes series, this stamp features a photograph of the Gates of the Valley in Yosemite National Park in California. Established on October 1, 1890, the park encompasses 747,956 acres in the Sierra Nevada. With the impressive Yosemite Valley as its centerpiece, the park includes a breathtaking range of geographical features, such as waterfalls, lakes, glaciers, expansive meadows, groves of giant sequoias, and granite monoliths such as El Capitan and Half Dome.

Each year nearly four million people enjoy the spectacular sights of Yosemite. Approximately 800 miles of marked trails can be found in the park. Nearly 95 percent of Yosemite has been designated wilderness.

To celebrate National Park Week, we’re holding a daily contest here on the blog centered around our love of national parks. Each day’s single winner will receive a set of the Scenic American Landscapes stamped cards, which showcase photographs from parks across the country.

To enter the contest for today, simply answer the following question:

How many acres does the smallest national park measure?

Submit your answer to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com and remember, spelling counts! The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. Deadline for entries is 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, April 28. Good luck!

The Mystery and Wonder of Zion National Park’s Sandstone Formations

Originally established in 1909 as Mukuntuwean National Monument, Zion National Park in Utah was expanded and designated a national park in 1919.

Now encompassing more than 229 square miles, Zion National Park is characterized by high plateaus and mesas with deep sandstone canyons carved into towering cliffs. Bare expanses of sandstone reveal artifacts and layers of rock that showcase the park’s geological history. Diverse environments within the park include deserts, canyons, slickrock, hanging gardens, and plateaus.

Zion Canyon, one of the park’s largest and most visited sites rises more than 2,000 feet above the canyon floor. One hundred sixty miles of rivers, streams, and waterfalls support a remarkable diversity of plant and animal life, including more than 270 species of birds. One hundred twenty miles of hiking trails are available to the approximately 2.5 million people who visit the park annually.

To celebrate National Park Week, we’re holding a daily contest here on the blog centered around our love of national parks. Each day’s single winner will receive a set of the Scenic American Landscapes stamped cards, which showcase photographs from parks across the country.

To enter the contest for today, simply answer the following question:

What was Mission 66?

Submit your answer to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com and remember, spelling counts! The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. Deadline for entries is 12 p.m. EST on Friday, April 27. Good luck!

The Grandest Things in Our National Parks

In 2010, the Postal Service, in conjunction with the National Park Service, released The Grandest Things, a 166-page book that combines history and nature in a brand new way. With breathtaking images of sites throughout the national park system coupled with corresponding stamps, the book enlivens the senses and illuminates an indispensable service in our country.

Though seemingly unrelated, parks and stamps tell intertwined stories and frequently share a common goal: to preserve what Walt Whitman called “the grandest things” for future generations. From the inception of the National Park Service to the now more than 84 million acres of federally protected land,The Grandest Things takes you through time with fascinating images, stamps, and stories.

Perhaps the most striking element of the book is its visual tour across America—with more than 75 national parks, monuments, and memorials, and amazing photographs of just some of the sites that make these places so incredible. From the volcanoes of Hawai’i to the deciduous forests of New England, The Grandest Things covers the nation, coast to coast.

In addition to the rich, image-based history detailed in the book, The Grandest Things also includes nine mint-condition stamps and a special collecting section for mounting, as well as background information on each of the stamps. Eight of the stamps come from the Scenic American Landscapes series, which began in 2001. The ninth stamp is the Old Faithful, Yellowstone stamp, issued in 1972 to commemorate the nation’s first national park.

To celebrate National Park Week, we’re holding a daily contest here on the blog centered around our love of national parks. Each day’s single winner will receive a set of the Scenic American Landscapes stamped cards, which showcase photographs from parks across the country.

To enter the contest for today, simply answer the following question:

The name for this magnificent book comes from the following Walt Whitman quote:

We see that while many were supposing things established and completed, really the grandest things always remain; and discover that the work of the New World is not ended, but only fairly begun.

In what Whitman piece does this quote appear?

Submit your answer to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com and remember, spelling counts! The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. Deadline for entries is 12 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 26. Good luck!