Inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir, Congress created the National Park Service in 1916. The purpose was to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life” in areas such as Yellowstone in Wyoming, Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Yosemite in California. The National Park Service was also tasked with leaving these areas “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Today, a century later, there are over 400 natural and cultural areas protected by the National Park Service across the United States, including 59 National Parks and sites such as Mount Rushmore, Fort McHenry National Monument, and Gettysburg National Military Park. Each year, about 290 million people visit National Park Service sites.
2016 National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coins
To mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the U.S. Mint struck three commemorative coins in 2016: $5 gold coin, Silver Dollar, and clad Half Dollar.
The National Park Service $5 gold coin depicts portraits of Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir, with the colossal granite formation known as Half Dome at Yosemite National Park in the background. Muir and Half Dome also appeared on the California State Quarter in 2005, while Roosevelt appeared on North Dakota’s 2016 Theodore Roosevelt National Park Quarter and the 2013 Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Dollar. The reverse includes the National Park Service arrowhead logo featuring a mountain, a buffalo, and a sequoia tree to represent the diversity of natural beauty in the National Parks.
The National Park Service Silver Dollar features one of the most famous National Park scenes: Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful geyser, together with a buffalo. Old Faithful and a buffalo were also shown on Wyoming’s 2010 Yellowstone National Park Quarter and the 1999 Yellowstone National Park commemorative Silver Dollar. A Latina Folklórico dancer and the National Park Service logo on the reverse represent the various cultural experience found in America’s National Parks.
The National Park Service Half Dollar design highlights a hiker in the wilderness and a small child discovering a frog in a natural setting. The reverse is the National Park Service logo.
Like all commemorative coins, the 2016 National Park Service 100th anniversary commemoratives are issued in limited editions and are made available for only a short period.